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Teens and Dating

Teens and Dating

By Chris Jordan

Alternate titles I considered for this post: Why I Still Practice My Lamaze Breathing. Why I Often Need A Stiff Drink. Why I Sit on My Front Porch Fondling My Shotgun. Why you Should Lock Up Your Toddlers Now.

When my kids were younger and the subject of them dating would come up I would say that I wasn’t going to allow dating until they were married. I was only somewhat joking.

My only experiences thus far in the teenage world of dating has been as the mother of boys. My daughter, at age seven, is still far too young. THANK GOD. And my hope is that having six brothers takes the mystery out of boys and that she won’t want to date, knowing that they are gross, farting, burping, smelly creatures. Either that or her brothers will scare off any boy that dares to come near her. What? If that is wrong I don’t want to be right.

Typically we think of boys as being the aggressors in dating situations. They are the ones pressuring the girls to go further. Remember the tv show The Facts of Life when Blair was in the back of a van with a boy who was trying to force himself onto her, that was the message I grew up with. I had watched that show, all the while cringing with embarrassment, with my mother, who told me that was the reason you always made sure you had a dime with you. So you could use a pay phone to call for a ride and a get away from the boy.

Times have changed.

And not just because our children have no idea what a pay phone is. More and more as I witness the teen boy-girl relationships I am surprised at how aggressive the girls seem to have become, compared to what I remember  when I was a teenager. One son was dating a girl for a short time who said that for Christmas she didn’t want a present. Nope all she wanted was him. Yes, that means what you think it can not possibly mean. After I recovered from my shock and fantasies of driving over to her house and breaking both of her legs in the hopes that she’d be encased in a full body cast and therefore desiring a more appropriate present, my son revealed that he just wasn’t interested in doing that with her. Yet. I’ll admit the word yet made me die a little inside.

They broke up soon after.  Upon hearing the news I think I managed not to do a fist pump in the air until I was in the next room alone.

In talking with my friends who are also mothers of teenage boys, this is not uncommon. Every single one of them has stories of girls being the pushy and demanding ones, not just in a sexual way, but in a controlling, bordering on stalking way.  One mother told me of the explicit text messages her son was receiving from a girl at all hours of the night. Admittedly I am not friends with anyone who has teenage girls,  for all I know they see boys behaving in the exact same manner.  I don’t think it is acceptable behavior for either sex.

My 13 year old son had a girlfriend for a few months, let’s call her Glenn. Not because that is her name but because she morphed into the character Glenn Close played in Fatal Attraction. I use the term girlfriend loosely because really they did very little together outside of school. I liked her a lot, at first. She was smart and I would overhear my son talking to her on the phone every day and he was happy. But I began to notice a change.

What is the line when a parent should intervene? At first the constant phone calls seemed harmless. Along the lines of, “Oh that’s so cute how smitten she is!” Then they reached the place of being intrusive. Glenn would yell at my other kids if they answered the phone and didn’t immediately disclose his whereabouts.

I noticed that my son was apologizing on the phone a lot. I asked him about this and he said that Glenn was always mad at him and he had no idea why.

She would call my cellphone looking for him, even though she had been told repeatedly not to call my phone. She would call my other sons. One of my sons was forced to turn his phone off after she called 12 times in less than an hour. We began joking that we needed to hide the bunnies!

I worried about it and wondered what I should say to him. I didn’t want to forbid the relationship thereby making it seem even more enticing. But I also didn’t want to let it slip by, for my son to think that this is what relationships are like. In this area I suppose it helped that his siblings kept telling him that his girlfriend was mean and sort of scary; at least I wasn’t the only one.

The final straw came when I picked him up from school one day and saw Glenn scowling standing with her back deliberately turned to my son. He said goodbye and she didn’t even acknowledge him.

What was that about?
Oh, nothing she’s just mad at me. Again.
Why? Did you have a disagreement about something?
No. I was supposed to meet her afterschool by the back door, but I was late.
Oh?
I had to talk to one of my teachers. I was only five minutes late. Now she won’t even talk to me.
What do you think?
I don’t know. I can’t do anything right.

My 9 year old pipes up from the back of the van,
Man, you have to dump. that. girl.

My teenager sighed and looked out the window.

We hadn’t even pulled out of the school driveway when my phone rang. It was Glenn.

She screamed at me to put him on the phone. I would not tolerate my own children talking to me in such a disrespectful manner and I certainly would not take it from one of their friends. I told her as much and hung up. Then I ignored the next 8 calls from her as we drove the 2 miles home.

I was going to have to call Glenn’s mother. This was beyond the boundary of normal behavior. It was over the top crazy.

My son called her when we got home and “broke up” with her. He basically told her that she was not nice and he didn’t really like her anymore. Glenn didn’t take it well.

I have been closely monitoring to see if Glenn continues her controlling and mean ways. So far my son says she isn’t bothering him and the phone records support this. I haven’t called her mother, but wonder if I still should. I would want to know if my child was behaving that way. At least I think I would.

What do you think about teen dating? Has it really changed in the past couple of decades? Or is it just my vantage point that has changed? If I had teenage daughters would I be seeing it from a completely different perspective?

Chris Jordan
About the Author

Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she wrote about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children. Yes, they...

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she wrote about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children.
Yes, they are all hers.
No she’s not Catholic or Mormon. Though she wouldn’t mind having a sister-wife because holy hell the laundry never stops.
Yes, she finally figured out what causes it. That’s why her youngest is a teen now.
Yes, she has a television.

She enjoys referring to herself in the third person.

 

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Melissa
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Melissa

Um..wow. I have three boys and you just scared the crap out of me. My oldest is 11 so we haven’t hit the girlfriend thing yet. I think I would have called the mother after the constant calling and nasty behavior to siblings.

Carrie
Guest
Carrie

I have 3 daughters and 2 sons.  Oldest is 26, youngest is 10 for perspective.  This isn’t an issue about boys vs. girls.  There are plenty of domineering boys out there too – you just happen to have a son with this issue.   I honestly don’t think speaking to the parents of the girl would matter one hill of beans.  It doesn’t appear they are watchful of her behaviors and most likely wouldn’t be kindly to you for pointing out their failings.  Good job to you for taking the back seat while your son figured it out on his… Read more »

Yve
Guest

I heard about those girls from my girl and thought she was over-exaggerating, then my boy got a bit older and suddenly not only were they real- they were texting him at midnight! Sad because these girls are so dominant (and scary) I feel that my son never even sees those sweet girls who i would MUCH prefer him to date! Scary scary, things once got so intense that i did call the parents- and they were much more inclined to believe that my big scruffy rugby player was the monster, not their sweet princess. (and suggested maybe he should… Read more »

Katherine @ Grass Stains
Guest

Chris, as always, I find your post so compelling. I’m several years behind you in terms of the dating thing, as my three boys are 8, 6 and 3 now (and we have a baby on the way). But I’m already petrified of what’s coming … and the behavior you detail in this post is part of the reason why. I’m 37, and when I was younger and began to date, that kind of behavior would have seemed like something out of a sci-fi movie to me. My parents — and the parents of the boys I dated — would… Read more »

Ashley
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Ashley

Um, Glenn acts that way because that’s probably how mom treats dad. Dad can’t do anything right, and mom gives him the cold shoulder. So sad. Your son made a good choice.

Natalie
Guest

I can’t wait to read everyone’s responses. My oldest is 11 and just now his first girlfriend, which is way too soon for me, but I’m pretty unsure as to how to stop it, or if I should. At a school event, she asked him if he wanted to kiss. He said yes. Last week she invited him to a movie (in the afternoon). She called the house a few times to set up the movie. In the end, my son’s cousin and my youngest son were also in the theater (small town, one theater, you can’t avoid it) so… Read more »

Amy
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Amy

at 11 i was firm with no dating.. too young. My son will be 14 in 2 months and just admitted he has a “girlfriend”. he is a football player and she is a cheerleader. I have a no dating rule in my house until older however, you are very correct that what we refer to as “dating” is not the same for them. I advised him i would allow it at this point as it didnt have the “i’m looking for a wife” meaning. I met the mother of the girl. i informed the mother i was raising him… Read more »

Cyndi
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Cyndi

I have experienced something similar with my 15-year-old son. A girl he wasn’t interested in pursued him relentlessly all through 8th grade. He finally gave in and agreed to go to the 8th grade formal with her after she indicated she’d do ANYTHING for him. Fortunately we got wind of their plan to have friends watch the bathroom door while they (in her mind) consummated their love, and we contacted the guidance counselor who nipped the plan in the bud. I also caught them in a very inappropriate Facebook chat and warned her that I would contact her mother next… Read more »

Navhelowife
Guest

I’m of the same mind as Katherine. Hard to do, of course, but maybe, just maybe, you’ll save the family years of heartbreak down the road.  
Oldest has a GF now, but things seem fairly calm. Of course, that has been helped by the fact he lost his cell phone for a week! 

Angie
Guest
Angie

Oh my goodness. I would want to know if it was my daughter. PLEASE don’t ever let that be my daughter (she’s only 5 now.)

Half Hearted Hippie
Guest

As my partner and I begin this whole process of trying to conceive and start our family, THIS RIGHT HERE is what I am scared of. I am a doula and childbirth educator. I am not scared of pregnancy and labor. I have been a professional nanny for over a decade. I am not scared of infants or small children. I know all of those stages — from pregnancy to preschool — can be incredibly frustrating and difficult. But I am not scared of them. I am SCARED of the teen years. I have absolutely no clue how to handle… Read more »

Deputy's Wife
Guest

I have three younger boys and I am thoroughly frightened after this post.  My two youngest (7 and 9) are girl crazy.  My seven year old has set his sights on a classmate and declared to everyone in the first grade that she was his.  Everyone thought this was cute, everyone but me.  I explained to him that she was not his property, therefore she could not be his.  I also explained he was living with me until he was 35, so there would be no time for girls. A friend of mine had a daughter who was stalked by… Read more »

KMac
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KMac

I’d say that many girls have been too aggressive for a long time, it’s just that now they have so many other means with which to be the aggressor. When I hit my teens I had guy friends, but my parents laid down pretty strict rules about my relationships with them–and these were just friends! Once, I remember wanting to buy my best guy friend a cool t-shirt for Christmas, but my mom said clothes were too personal and I wasn’t allowed. I thought that was ridiculous at the time. And I thought she was soooo mean and old-fashioned with… Read more »

Kristie
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Kristie

Its just weird and different than when we were young. The rule, absolute and unbreakable, when I was growing up, was that I was not allowed to call boys. Ever. For any reason. If I needed homework help, call a female friend. Need a ride? Call a girlfriend. No excuse EVER for a girl to call a boy. If he is interested in you, *he* will call *you*. Now, cell phones and texting have put a whole new spin on this situation. I tell my 14 yr old daughter she is not allowed to call boys, and she doesn’t. But… Read more »

Starfire
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Starfire

Well, I have 4 kids, ages 16, 14, 11 and 9. I do not believe kids under 16 should be dating. I don’t allow it. I get really annoyed and eye roll at the parents of my sixth grade daughter’s peers, who think it is so cute to let 11 yr olds go on “dates”, dropping them off at the movies/malls all prosti-tot’d up in club dresses and heels. I believe kids should be kids and feel like 13 yr olds in no way, shape or form are ready to deal with the emotional baggage of dating. My oldest daughter… Read more »

Dregina
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Dregina

I taught healthy relationship skills to teenagers for two years a few years ago, and I was horrified at the misperceptions so many of them had about love, commitment, and how to behave in a relationship. Stalkery behavior (obsessive calling, anger over opposite sex friends or even conact with anyone else from the opposite sex, needing to know where your bf/gf is 24 hours a day, etc) was seen by most of the kids I worked with as romantic and appropriate. If kids don’t have parents at home talking to them about what love looks like and doesn’t look like,… Read more »

gem
Guest

I have 2 boys 14 and 16. Neither have had “serious” relationships as yet although various names have been on the go for a few weeks at a time. My older boy did have a somewhat serious relationship over Christmas which did have me a little concerned that he was going to go where I was not yet to see him go! (As you say, when he is married, ideally if he waits until about 40 to get married! I jest, but is is my baby!) Ironically she broke up with him, so my concerns re her getting too serious… Read more »

AngelB
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AngelB

Intervene.  People need to get over the myth of “if I forbid it, it will be more enticing.”  In high school I was in an obsessive relationship.  I didn’t know how to get out.  There was very real danger.  My family knew the relationship was unhealthy although they probably didn’t understand the stakes involved.  I asked my mom for help.  She told me that I had to deal with it.   The sick relationship went on for another year because I didn’t have the tools to “deal with it.”  Sometimes the kids are asking you to forbid the relationship because… Read more »

Jenny B
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Jenny B

Wow, am I glad my kids are 27 and 24 and not mature enough for a relationship. I would definately call Glenn’s mother. If my daughter we acting like that, I would want to know. Makes you wonder what kind of role models she has. Make the call for your own peace of mind!

kate
Guest

Oh My. My sons are 11 and 5. I am so glad that neither one of them is interested in anythiing but reading and XBox. I remember when I was in 5th grade and all the cool kids started going steady. Nobody wanted to be my boyfriend and one of my sisters told me that I was not the kind of girl you date, but I was the kind of girl you marry. When I was in college and people were starting to get serious about life, I had more interested boys than I could handle. I think that aggressive… Read more »

Adrienne
Guest
Adrienne

I have just done the fist pump myself, as my 13 year old’s first girlfriend dumped him in front of her friends a couple of weeks ago, telling him that she “lost interest” in him. I assured him that I thought that was probably her issue, since I’ve been around him for 13 years and I have yet to lose interest in him. He laughed and told me that I had to like him, I was his mom. (I assured him that I know lots of moms who don’t really like their kids, hence their social lives that take up… Read more »

suzie
Guest

But this is not “girl behavior.”  This is an individual who is exhibiting extreme behavior, and I believe her parents (or the school, if parents aren’t responsive) should be told.  The girl needs help.   I have girls.  My younger daughter is about to turn 13, and has started with these young-person “relationships.”  This means they text, they dance at a dance, and MAYBE they go with other friends for pizza after school.  I was shocked a couple of weeks ago when we had a meeting of our self-created parenting community group (for all parents of 7th graders in her… Read more »

Emily
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Emily

I was an aggressive little girl. But I didn’t want sex.. just lots and lots of kisses. It does scare me for my little girl. but she probably seriously won’t date until she’s out of high school. I don’t see the point in it at all. I stopped dating for a bit in college because I knew my education was more important and I was being distracted. My friend’s kids are not allowed to date until 18 and now 3 of them are over 18 and only 1 is dating while in college, the other 2 are not. It’s not… Read more »

Jamie
Guest
Jamie

Holy cow. Yet another topic I hadn’t considered in the whole parenting arena.  Thank goodness I don’t have kids yet.  But I do remember being a teenager, and never went through or even witnessed this type of insanity (Glenn thing).  I feel for kids these days…so much pressure to look like the hyperbolic, sexually pigeonholed, cartoonish people on television – particularly reality tv.  I hope to have as balanced an outlook someday as you do, Chris.

Sue
Guest

Oh holy crap! My oldest is just about to turn 13 and so far, he’s had a few girlfriends, all of whom told him that they were “dating.” As far as I can tell, he didn’t have any say in the matter. It sort of makes me laugh because “dating” just means they change their Facebook status to “in a relationship” and then mostly ignore each other. But apparently things don’t stay that innocent. The thing that encourages me is your other kids’ input about the relationship – my kids will listen to each other long before they would listen… Read more »

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

I have two sons, 20 and almost 17. Luckily, they are both pretty non tolerant of ANYONE bossing them around (including me which is another subject), but I DO see the girls being very aggressive and available and willing and obsessed. Cellphones and Facebook make their ability to keep tabs on one another WAY too easy, if you ask me. And I wouldn’t call the mother. I’ve found that doing that did nothing but further ostracize my own kids. I never thought I’d be the kind of parent who didn’t call other parents when kids are acting out (because I’d… Read more »

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[…] was a great post by Chris Jordan at Alphamom recently about her son of a similar age who was truly dealing with […]

Deb
Guest
Deb

We had a rule that our kids couldn’t date till they were 16. I can’t tell you how often my kids now look back on that and said it saved them, because they had to tell someone their parents wouldn’t allow it. It took the pressure off of them. It’s really an arbitrary number, you can pick whatever you want, but it worked for us. Fourteen seemed too young, fifteen, they aren’t driving yet, sixteen just seemed to fit. I think about whether you should have told the mother and I think yes, I would have wanted to know about… Read more »

angie
Guest

I have a teenaged daughter and son, and we don’t condone dating at all. The world has changed since we were kids, but I think it started then, and this is the nightmare offspring of dating when we were kids–the whole going together thing, people being possessive, obsessive, the sexual pressure, etc., all supported in tv and the movies, etc. There are aggressive boys and girls, but the girls are the ones who stand to lose a lot more by that behavior. There are so few of my daughter’s peers that don’t have kids I can count them on one… Read more »

annmarie
Guest
annmarie

Kids dating is just bizarre and weird to me. What’s the point? I’m honestly not trying to be a wise guy, I honestly do not understand the point of having meaningless relationships that will most always end in breaking up. I always encourage my daughters to make meaningful friendships, ones that will last and that are based on making them better people and for the life of me I do not see how introducing dating relationships into their lives at such a young age will do that. It’s like you are giving a little piece of your heart away everytime… Read more »

Marnie
Guest
Marnie

Wow. A note to Cyndi – the girl who texted naked pictures of herself was spreading child porn. And your son, as the reciepient, is also party to child porn. Deleting them doesn’t completely erase the information. I don’t know how long it’s been, but if it happens again with her or anyone else, I would recommend contacting the police department immediately to report that it was sent to him, so that it doesn’t appear to be initiated by him. There are horrible repercussions for kids who are convicted, like having to register as a sex offender, or being turned… Read more »

Futureblackmail
Guest

I was just telling my husband the other day that I think the teenage years is why I learned lamaze. I worry about this as well – my stepson broke up with his girlfriend because she wanted to have sex and he didn’t. Am I proud? Absolutely. Am I still worried? Absolutely.

Tara
Guest
Tara

It is no recent anomaly that the girls can be aggressive. Many of us weren’t close to those girls, or didn’t know the boys they dated well enough to hear the stories. I only had one female friend when I got to high-school and very few after, my friends were the guys. Way back in the early 90’s… there were girls who’d manipulate and threaten, spread untrue rumors, sleep with other guys for jealousy / revenge, physical assaults, and emotional abuse that I could go on about for days. There is and has been abuse and ‘pushy behavior’ perpetrated by… Read more »

Jessica
Guest

I think the mother should know. Would you tolerate it if it was a boy screaming and being obsessive? No. We would not. But there are different standards for girls, and that’s not right.

I’m TERRIFIED of the dating stuff. TERRIFIED of it. And my little guy is only 17 months old.

Amanda
Guest
Amanda

I think 13 is far too young for “dating”, as innocuous as it may be. I’d also call the mother, even after the “break-up”.

Rebecca
Guest
Rebecca

I am a school counselor, and sadly this is becoming more and more common.Statistics are now showing that teenage boys are more likely to have been hit by their partner than teenage girls and less likely to see this as abuse. Girls think this behavior makes them “empowered.”

Caitlyn
Guest

oh my heavens.  That can’t be normal at any age.  At least I hope it can’t.  That’s just scary.

As far as I know, dating hasn’t changed that much.  My sister in college had a perfectly normal, non-stalker relationship with her last boyfriend.  My 13-year-old sister isn’t really interested in boys quite yet, so I don’t know what she’s dealing with, but I’m pretty sure she’d never be that controlling

hennifer
Guest

I’d just like to say that more than ever I’d love to read all these comments. I have one boy, one girl and my son is quickly approaching this age range. I myself was very sexually aggressive as a teen and for all the wrong reasons. I think you might still call Glenn’s mother but fear she is probably where Glenn is learning it from. Sadly kids at this age really do confuse jealousy/obsession with love. I’m glad your son has other siblings that see he deserves better. So much to think about!

Jana
Guest
Jana

I have an 18 year old son who is a senior in high school and he has a 16 year old girlfriend. She and my son have had sex, she was his first, he was her 11th (information via Facebook)…girls today are just much more promiscuous than we were in high school. The thing I hate most is there is no real “dating”, just getting together to have sex. That is not a relationship to me, but he assures me this is the norm in 2011. If that is true, all I can say is thank God I grew up… Read more »

GG
Guest
GG

It isn’t dating anymore, it’s more like being married. The expectations and obligations that these kids place on each other is ridiculous. Most kids in High School think that asking a person out on a date is crazy, you have to “like” the person enough to be a couple, then you enjoy their company. The boundaries of that enjoyment seem to have expanded to all forms of sex, and having that sex is okay, ’cause you’re a “couple”. Talk about skewed….. I thank my lucky stars each and everyday that my two sons never fell for this ridiculously twisted version… Read more »

Katie
Guest
Katie

I am so glad to have found this post. My son and I thought it was a freak thing with him. He had his first date at 18 because every girl he ever started to talk to at school would latch onto him as if they were an instant couple and because he did not reciprocate their attention and feelings they would knock him down and then he’d avoid them and they would start gossiping about him and say he has “issues”. He asked a girl to the prom he thought would not act like this and told her upfront… Read more »

Shelli
Guest
Shelli

*thank you for sharing*
My son is just starting to get messages at all hours of the night from girls and I’ve been wondering how to patent to this. It’s SO different in today’s world with technology and social media.

Unfortunately I have also experienced the mother’s of young girls soliciting my son for his contact info for their daughters! Definitely scary to know there are parents encouraging this inappropriate behavior.

Erin Boutilette
Guest
Erin Boutilette

I’m late on this discussion, but my son is 12, he’s had a couple of aggressive girls as well, I put a stop to it everytime. I let them know, that they are a guest inside MY family, and as long as they were a guest of someone living in MY house, they will follow my rules just as those that live here do, and I list the rules, and also let them know, that I KNOW EVERYTHING that goes on in my house or with my family, if my rules aren’t followed, they will no longer be welcome, and… Read more »