Dating in middle school: it’s worth it to wait

Dear middle school girls,

I know how you are feeling right now. I know how it feels to like someone and want them to like you back. Ever since kindergarten I have had crushes on boys, spying on them during recess or getting a drink from the bubbler so that I could pass their class. Even though I wanted to date someone in middle school, I did not have a boyfriend until I was a senior in high school. Looking back, I am glad things turned out that way.

Girls, your middle school and high school years are precious opportunities for you to make and grow friendships. The older you get, the less time and access you have to bond with friends, even less time if you are dating someone. I can honestly say my best friends from high school are still my best friends, and I cherish my memories with them more than anything else.

Moreover, it is important to be comfortable being alone before you are in a relationship. Don’t rely on a someone to make you feel pretty, wanted, important, etc. You can be and are all those things without him or her. Feeling comfortable with who you are—or even fully understanding who you are—is difficult all throughout life, but it is especially difficult in middle school and high school. You might not even realize how easily influenced you are right now by what other people think you should be. One of my favorite books that has helped me be comfortable with who I am is The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown.

Now, I am not saying that you need to wait until you are 18 to date: I am saying that you should ask yourself if you are ready. Right now, you can’t drive, so your parents would have to take you on dates, which is probably super awkward. Plus, you don’t have money for dates.

I saw in a Newsweek article “Wait Before You Date: The Risks of Romance in Middle School” that those who date in middle school are risk takers. The article reported on a study at the University of Georgia, which found that people who dated in middle school were “four times more likely to drop out of high school and reported twice as much substance abuse as those who were dating less.”

Ask yourself, “Is dating important right now? Why am I choosing to date this person? What am I hoping to get out of the relationship? Is this person mature enough to handle a relationship? Is this someone I could see myself marrying?” Remember, girls, you will have plenty of time to date when you are ready. Focus on enjoying life while you are young and becoming the best person you can be.