Teenage dating etiquette

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Perhaps the thought of all those sweet young couples slow dancing under paper streamers coaxes a nostalgic sigh or two. If you’re the parent of a child who has recently started middle school, get ready for a decidedly new dating scene.

Yes, the prom as we knew it still exists, but even its drama pales in comparison to today’s boy-girl relationship issues.

If you like a guy or he likes you, it’s perfectly OK to ask him not to post things about you online, including pictures.

Some things don’t have to be shared with the whole world.

We’re learning this at the same time our children are navigating through it.” What follows is a teen dating primer to help your child — and you — forge the valley between child and young adult.

It’s not unusual for sixth-graders to say, “I have a boyfriend/girlfriend.” Often these relationships develop through texting.

“Girls need to feel good about themselves before they start to date,” says Charles Wibbelsman, MD, chief of adolescent medicine at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco.

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Most experts and parents consulted for this article say group “dates” to the mall, movies or even a friend’s house are fine as long as they’re supervised, even if it means just being in the same shopping center.

“It’s not your parents’ dating anymore,” concedes Robin Gurwitch, a clinical psychologist at the Duke Center for Child and Family Health.

“We don’t have the vocabulary and we don’t have the experiences to be able to help.

Jennifer*, a junior at Sanderson High School in Raleigh, notes that while it’s not cool to “talk” to more than one person at a time, some people go from one talking “relationship” to another without actually dating anyone, which tends to explain the relatively low numbers of actual couples.

For instance, among Megan’s circle of about seven close girlfriends, only two have boyfriends.

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