Prior research identified four distinct dating trajectories from 6th to 12th grade: Low, Increasing, High Middle School, and Frequent. In a new study published in the Journal of School Health, researchers found that adolescents who were not in a romantic relationship had good social skills and low depression, and fared better or equal to peers who dated.
The study included 594 10th graders. Investigators compared the four dating groups using teacher ratings and student questionnaires.
The results refute the notion that non-daters are maladjusted. Efforts in schools that promote health should include non-dating as one option of healthy development.
“In the end, school health educators, mental health professionals, and teachers should affirm social norms that support adolescents’ individual freedom to decide whether to date or not, indicating that both are acceptable and healthy options,” said lead author Brooke Douglas, of the University of Georgia.