Teen dating often leads to depression, say experts

Teen dating often leads to depression, say experts

This is because youngsters are not emotionally mature to handle heartbreak and rejection

Researchers from the University of Georgia have found that teens who do not date or are not in a romantic relationship, have low depression.
While it is a common belief that dating during teenage years can help them build self-identity and grow socially and emotionally, the research found that teens who don’t date have similar or better interpersonal skills. 

Bengaluru experts decode the findings. 

Kala Balasubramanian, counselling psychologist and psychotherapist, Inner Dawn Counselling and Training services LLP, says that the research comes from a western point of view where dating is sort of considered a norm for teenagers.

“There is a stigma that if one isn’t dating, there is something wrong with them and they don’t belong to a particular group. However, even teens who don’t date have equal or better relationships. They are also better in social relationships,” says Balasubramanian. 

In teenage, a sense of belonging is more important than anything else and it is but natural that one would want to do what their peers are doing. Even in India, teen dating is on the rise now, she says.

“There is a tendency of school-going students to have a partner but it hasn’t reached a point where one is discriminated on the basis of their relationship status,” she observes.   

While dating gives you an experience of a relationship, it has its own pitfalls.  

Experiencing a heartbreak or jealously can be an emotional turmoil for a teen. And at that age, they are not geared to handle such profound feelings, says Balasubramanian. 

“Being in a relationship means you are focussing on one person; it brings down the focus and quality of other relations like friends and family. This reduces your social and friend circles. Thus, the probability of getting into depression goes up,” she notes.  

Parents as support system

Many children still can’t openly discuss their relationship with parents in India due to a fear of reprimands or loss of freedom. They feel the safest thing for them is to hide their relationship. This builds up huge pressure on them and when they face problems in the relationship, the lack of a support system can lead to depression.

Parents can play a significant role in lessening this possibility. “With easy access to Internet and information, parents should know their children learn everything about dating and related matters at a very young age itself. They should be duly prepared and open a channel of communication on various subjects like age of consent, sexual safety or being able to say ‘no’. They can also provide their child with professional help, if needed.”  

Dates and expense

There is always the pressure to take a partner out on dates. It is complicated for a teenager without the financial resources required to do so. As both the partners lack mental maturity, not taking someone out becomes one of the common reasons for a break up.      

Dr Vinod Kumar, psychiatrist and head, Mpower - The Centre, Bengaluru, says teenagers are ‘work-in-progress’ both emotionally and physically. 

“Getting into a romantic relationship and being emotionally attached to a person is a big deal for most of us. Unless there is enough emotional maturity and strength of mind, dealing with a romantic relationship can be quite a task for young people,” says Kumar

Pressure to get intimate

Given the access to porn and knowledge of sex and sexuality, physical relationships have become common among young kids. There is a curiosity to experiment sexually.

“However, the body might not be ready for an intimate relationship. And emotionally and psychologically, they haven’t judged the intensity of it nor do they know how to manage those feelings. One should never end up feeling that they are ‘being used’, which is a very common thought,” he says. 

Many teens are also pressured by their friends to ‘do it’.    

Balasubramanian adds that since sex is still a taboo topic in India, it might be a traumatic experience for the youngsters when they try it for the first time.   




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Pros of not dating

Get to focus on other important things in life.

Get to develop close and strong friendships. Friendship at a young age can be very strong.

Social relationships and skills are far better because you are not focussing one just one person.

Concentrating on studies at an age when it is the building block of the future.

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