Are Middle Schoolers Ready for Romance?

It’s the season of love. Although Valentine’s Day has passed, dating and romantic relationships remain as perplexing aspects for middle school students. But the question remains: Are middle school students mature enough to enter that world at such a young age?

“It’s really hard to give a specific answer for when kids or teens are old enough to start dating,” said Carmon Griffin, 8th grade guidance counselor. “You see little kids all over the internet holding hands or kissing each other’s cheeks. It’s cute that they show an interest with each other, but it’s not the full magnitude of what a relationship is.”

Griffin explained that as people get older, they can pinpoint when they have feelings for another person. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they should start something super serious.

“You shouldn’t be ready to walk down the aisle,” she added. “I feel like elementary and middle school is a little early to start a serious relationship.”

Griffin said that you’re not going to be with this or that person forever, and that you’re still learning about yourself and what’s good for you. Exploring is a part of growing up.

“I think everyone develops at different rates, some people will start having serious relationships before others,” said Vicki Welton, a guidance practicum student.

Welton said you should start exploring when you feel a connection with someone, spend time with them, get to know them. It teaches you about yourself, and it teaches them about themselves.

She added: “It’s good practice to learn about yourself and your wants –to learn what’s okay with you and what isn’t okay. I do think serious relationships are better later in life, but as I said everyone develops differently.”

Welton said that even if you’re not in a serious relationship, it can still be healthy or unhealthy at any age.

“I think it’s so important to understand what is or is not healthy,” Welton said. “Just because it feels good doesn’t mean it’s healthy.”

Welton added that once you know what the actual characteristics of a healthy or unhealthy relationship are, that “you can have those stronger and more serious relationships with people that fit you.”

According to Youth.Gov, healthy relationships have mutual respect, trust, honesty, compromise, individuality, good communication, anger control, fair fighting, understanding, self-love and confidence, and/or being understanding.

On the other hand, unhealthy relationships have one person having control of the other, hostility, dishonesty, disrespect, too much dependence on the other person, and/or physical violence.

Griffin gave some advice to Nipher kids who want to start dating.

“There will always be ups and downs in any relationship,” Griffin said. “It’s not always easy. Life won’t always go in ways you planned.”

Welton agrees and added: “Your commitment should be to yourself. When you have a great relationship with yourself and think you’re awesome, then you’re ready to find the person who’s going to compliment who you are.”

To summarize what both Griffin and Welton have said, you are young and still growing, and learning what is and is not healthy for you. As you’re navigating through life, dating and love are part of that. There isn’t a definite age when to start dating, but there are boundaries. They advise Nipher students to remember that.