Is single dating okay?
Q⁄A on Human Sexuality for Teenagers

John Ooi Peng Lee
Master of Engineering, University of Singapore
Master in Education, University of Manchester
Reproduced with permission.

Dating and Going Steady

Question 18:

I am sixteen. Do you think single dating is to be encouraged at my age? If not, at what age would be all right to single date and to go steady?

Answer 18:

The problem with single dating is that you tend to ask one person out most of the time. Many teenagers who single date tend to enter into "steady" relationships early, because they see each other so regularly. Some of these relationships that start early survive and lead on to happy marriages. But the vast majority of steady relationships between teenagers break up after some time, causing a lot of heartache and pain. Going steady implies some degree of commitment to another person. Most teenagers are busy with their studies, and are not really ready or able to keep any commitments they make. Furthermore, if you commit yourself early to a steady relationship with another person; you will tend to miss out on getting to know other people. This is because most of your friends will feel uncomfortable "disturbing" the two of you and will leave you alone. Nowadays, many people also tend to marry in their late twenties or even thirties. If you go into a steady relationship while you are studying for, say, your 'O' level exams, how long would it be before both of you marry? With national service, further studies, and a period of settling into your career, it could be as long as ten years. It is very unlikely that you can maintain a steady relationship for so long. You are more likely to grow apart.

Remember that the purposes of dating are to get to know yourself and others better, and to develop social and communication skills. At your age, these purposes are best achieved by group dating. When you are a few years older, you can go on single dates occasionally as you are then more ready to get to know individual persons better. As for entering into steady relationships, it would be advisable for you to wait till nearer the age when you would like to marry. Then when you do go steady, it is with the intention of later making a total and life-long commitment to that person in marriage.