What Is the Right Age to Start Dating?
In today's world, it's easy to see why so many young people feel the need to "grow up" all too fast.
Between the fact that we are constantly surrounded by social media and the concepts (not to mention products) that it tries to sell us and the fact that teens in our favorite films and television shows are all played by fully grown adults who probably have their own personal trainers, it's no challenge to see why we've ended up in a toxic culture of constant comparison. This exists on just about every level, from physical appearance to academic success and, in this case, your love life.
Dating culture is culture these days, with a bombardment of dating reality shows on our screens and romantic novels on our bookshelves. Most of us crave love in one form or another, especially as young adults. This can lead to the burning question of when someone is "ready" to date—and typically that's something we quantify with age. Okay, so what exactly is the right age to start dating? Let's talk about it.
Age Doesn't Always Equal Maturity
Let's kick off this conversation with a little bit of cynicism. You can't really throw one specific age out there—whether it's 13 or 31—and say that that is the right age to start dating because, frankly, people mature at different times and at different paces. You might think you're super mature at the age of 14, but you look back only a few years later and see just how wrong you were. Similarly, being deemed "young" by others doesn't necessarily mean that you don't have a good head on your shoulders or that you can't handle the hardships of life.
Also read about: Dating Advice We Wish We'd Known Sooner
Dating Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be
Another note on this topic is the unrealistic nature of how dating is projected in our society. We throw out terms like "love at first sight," "soulmates" and "high school sweethearts" all the time, deeply romanticizing something that might actually be pretty toxic at the end of the day. Are you "high school sweethearts" experiencing "young love," or are you settling for the first person who wants to date you because you're too afraid of starting over or getting out of your comfort zone? Are they your "soulmate" or are you just addicted to the way they keep your nervous system engaged because you're always worried about what they're doing when they aren't with you? These questions probably won't cross your mind while you're dating at a young age, but they really can have an impact on your readiness to date.
So, Is There a Right Age to Start Dating?
While we wish it was as easy as throwing out one specific number and saying that that's the right age to start dating, that just wouldn't be realistic. Maybe for one person, it's 15, while for another it's 19 or 21. The real answer to when someone is ready to date comes down to one thing: that individual. Are they happy with their life, feel fulfilled and confident in who they are? If so, there's a good chance they're ready to date. Are they insecure and feeling pressure from friends, stressed that they haven't had their first kiss yet when "everyone else" has or always comparing themselves to other people their age? If that's the case, it's safer to say they should probably focus more on falling in love with themselves before worrying about the wild world of dating.
So, while there isn't one specific age that makes someone ready to date, that might just be a good thing. Maturity can't be quantified by a number, and love shouldn't be looked at that way either. With all that said, you might need to shake off a few dating clichés that you've probably had engrained into your head for years—and you can click HERE to read our list of the main ones you need to stop believing.