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A teenager's scoop on dating... it's waaay more boring than you think.

Updated: Aug 27, 2023

Look, all you nice people out there writing about how teenagers and young adults date, I hope you can remember when you were that age too.

Because if you’re thinking it’s like a guy and a girl (or any other combination) going on “A Date” to some little Italian restaurant, then off to a movie theater, you’re pretty much way off. Which means you’ll have a reader like me eye-rolling, page-flicking, and quickly putting your great novel at the bottom of my bedside pile of books.

Let’s start with early high school. Dates aren’t really real, because dating isn’t really real at that age. It’s a bit of texting, some handholding, not a lot of talking, a bit of joking. The dating pair hang out together, but hang out with their friends along too – each of the pair probably has at least two of their friends in tow. And it’s hanging out at someone’s house watching a movie or streaming something. It’s not very exciting.

By the time it’s late high school, it’s all changed. Relationships are starting to get more long-term, but it’s largely dating people in your outer friend group (friends of your closer friends), or people you meet more randomly at parties. And everything’s a big deal when you date someone because word spreads quickly, everyone knows, everyone’s interested. If the relationship turns more serious, maybe there would occasionally be a casual dinner, or maybe something cute like hanging at a scenic spot by the river. But generally, it’s still hanging out at someone’s house watching a movie or streaming something.

I live in an urban area where there are students from about six different high schools. That’s a pretty big pool to fish in, which discourages longer-term relationships; which in turn means there’s less dating activity in the traditional sense. I can’t speak for suburban and rural, but with a smaller pool I guess maybe they have more longer-term relationships. Plus, maybe there’s less to do; I’ve heard that some weekend nights everyone drives to a Walmart parking lot to hang out. Sounds like fun.

Finally, there’s college. Add drinking, add new social ladders, remove parents. There aren’t any of the Nerds versus Jocks versus Goths categorizations and groupings that some people assume; it’s all about who’s cool, and where the best parties are. I tell you, all you writers out there, the drama and the antics goes up like a million-fold. And as a final helpful hint, if you want to get a sense of college Greek life, check out the discussion boards at

Elizabeth S was until recently a teenager, and lives in the DC area.

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