How to know if you're ready to start dating
Today, there is *so* much pressure to be in a relationship. Every time you turn on the TV, read a magazine or just head to the mall, you're confronted with images of couples. It makes being single feel pretty awful sometimes, and when you watch many of your friends start dating, it's easy to want to follow in their footsteps. But, how do you know when you're ready to enter the dating scene? To help answer this complicated yet commonly-asked question, we've created a list of things to know before you couple up.
1. There's no perfect dating "age." Your age doesn't determine if you're ready to start dating. Think about the people in your grade. Chances are some are more mature than others. By the time they're 15, some teenagers have already started their own businesses, run organizations or worked to support their family members. There are other 15 year-olds who are still getting used to staying home alone or doing homework without their parents' help. Neither situation is wrong. People mature at different rates and value different things.
2. Think about your reasons for wanting to date. What's motivating you to start dating? Be honest with yourself. If you've found someone you really like and respect, and you want to be in a relationship, then maybe you should consider dating. However, if your main reasons are external (your friends are pressuring you, all the "cool" people are doing it, etc.), then it's probably not the best time. Remember, when debating whether or not to start dating, your own thoughts and feelings are key.
3. Consider your expectations. How serious do you want your relationship to be? Are you just looking for someone to share your popcorn at the movies, or do you want someone who'll be able to support you through your worst moments? Although it varies from person to person, most early relationships are pretty informal or relaxed and as you get older, they typically become more emotionally involved. Know what you want before you jump into something.
4. Ask yourself how dating will affect all the other parts of your life. Even the most relaxed romantic relationships will have some impact on your life. Do you have time to spend on a relationship? Even if you two only go out once a week, that's still time that you could be dedicating to hanging out with your friends, enjoying your extracirriculars or boosting your GPA. Make sure being in a relationship is really worth it.
5. Talk to a parent. When you're younger, it can feel like your parents won't let you do anything. Usually, though, they're just trying to do whatever is best for you in the long-run. If you feel like you're ready to date, speak to your mom or dad and explain how you're feeling. If they think it's okay for you to start dating, a few things will probably happen. They will want to meet the person you're dating, speak to your date's parents and go over a couple rules. Even if their rules seem overwhelming, respect them. The fact that you're allowed to date is a compliment; it means that your mom or dad feels like you're mature enough to handle a relationship.
When did you know you were ready to date? Let us know in the comments section below!