Around their mid-teens, adolescents’ interest in dating tends to grow more, explaining why 15 years olds are dating more and more these days. But is 15 an appropriate age to start dating, and what are the benefits and consequences of teenage dating?
Dating is a natural, healthy, and crucial component of the emotional development of any young person. However, some may start dating at a very young age, and parents often fear that their child will get hurt, manipulated, or heartbroken.
Even if there is no such thing as a ‘right’ age to begin dating, many people believe that the best ages to start dating are between 15 and 16. However, it usually is entirely dependent on the adolescent’s level of maturity.
Since boys grow later, some argue that 15 is a suitable age for girls and 17 for boys. Others may also argue that starting to date at the age of 18 or above is preferable. But whether people think that 15 is an appropriate age to date or not, one thing that everyone agrees with is that dating at the age of 12 or 13 is far too early.
Benefits of having a boyfriend or girlfriend at the age of 15
1. Formation of Identity
Adolescents can learn more about themselves through dating. It can help them discover what is acceptable to them and what is not, what they enjoy and dislike, and what most appeals to them. Dating can help teenagers figure out if they want to be in a relationship, what gender they prefer, or simply want to focus on academics.
2. Improve interpersonal skills
Studies have found that dating can help adolescents learn how to negotiate, compromise and express empathy. They can also explore the experience of vulnerability by investing an intimate degree of confidence in someone that is something that they are often unwilling to do with others, including their friends.
3. A source of emotional support
Teenagers often have difficulties expressing their feelings and emotions with their parents and getting emotional support from them. Boyfriends or girlfriends can therefore be a source of emotional support for teenagers. For instance, if a teenager is unsure about their sexual orientation and is afraid to discuss it with parents, other family members, or even friends for fear of being rejected, their partner may be the primary source of support.
4. Prepare them for future relationships
Having a boyfriend or girlfriend at 15 can help teenagers acquire critical skills and experience that will assist them to have healthy relationships later in life. For instance, they can learn how to face and deal with disputes and breakups. The experience of dating at a young age can also help them become more mature in their love lives.
Consequences of having a boyfriend or girlfriend at the age of 15
1. Negative impact on academic performance
Being in a relationship necessitates a significant investment of time and energy typically. Thus, instead of focusing on their studies, adolescents may spend all their efforts on their relationships. Also, they may get a hectic schedule while trying to divide their time between studying and spending time with their romantic partners. They may have difficulties obtaining enough sleep at night, impacting academic performance.
2. Affect relationship with parents
Many parents disapprove of their children dating at a young age. Because of this, adolescents may hide their romantic relationships from their parents, resulting in disputes once the truth is out. Teenagers may also sacrifice family time to spend time with their boyfriends or girlfriends.
3. Affect relationship with friends
Having a boyfriend or girlfriend at a young age can also negatively impact friendships. Due to a lack of maturity, adolescents may have difficulties managing all their relationships. They may prioritise their romantic relationships and may thus spend less time with their friends.
Therefore, there is no ‘ideal’ age to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Depending on their level of maturity, dating at the age of 15 can be a good experience and comes with many benefits. However, dating may also have some drawbacks if they are not mature enough. Thus, there is nothing wrong with adolescents attempting and entering a romantic relationship at such a young age if they are mature enough.
Mansi Thaneswari Hursahye, YUVA Intern and Psychological Science student at Curtin University (Mauritius)