We look back on our teen dating days with large amounts of chagrin. We were awkward and clumsy, we had no idea what we were doing, and often, things blew up in our face. Truth is though, in a lot of ways we’re not doing all that much better in adulthood — and there’s a lot we can learn from those just starting out!
They Relax And Have Fun
As adults, we’re trained to look at the bigger picture — are they right for me? Where is this going? For teenagers, they are better at living in — and enjoying — the moment. “Teenagers realize that dates are supposed to be fun — not work! They tease and flirt without worrying if they’ll have a future with their date. This doesn’t mean they’re not nervous; but they’re not in their heads so much,” says Andrea Syrtash, Relationship Expert and author of It’s Okay to Sleep With Him on the First Date: And Every Other Rule of Dating, Debunked.
They Are Excited To See Each Other
When we were teenagers, we’d spend all week looking forward to our date, gushing with excitement. And we weren’t afraid to show it. How many of us do that now, when we’re consumed with advice books telling us to play hard to get, and not give too much too soon? Maybe we have the wrong idea. “My 16-year-old son’s girlfriend came into the office and surprised him. When he walked from the back of the office, she became excited and started jumping up and down and yelled his name while running to jump on him.
My husband heard this ordeal so I asked him, ‘Do I greet you that way?’ He looked up from his computer and sternly said, “Never!” I’m not a teen but I do suggest that women act like cheerleaders when their man comes home from work. I can assure he will have a more anticipating outlook of going home to his wife!” says Shannon Battle, LCAS, LPC, CSOTS, Clinical Director, Family Services of America.
As adults, we may go out with another couple now and again, but for teens, group dating is the norm! “One thing that teens do on dates that adults should do is go out with a group. The stars are great about networking and going to parties as a group. They have a crowd and they easily meet more people. I think adults often want to go out in pairs or individually. I think adults should phone a friend and go with a group,” says Lisa Niver of WeSaidGoTravel, who worked as a set teacher on Nickelodeon’s new show, Bella and the Bulldogs.
They’re Sneaking Around
As adults, if we want to take a date home — and, obviously, if they are into it as well — we just do. When we were teens, we had to be more creative— and that effort was part of the fun! “Most teens don’t have a warm, comfortable, private bedroom to which they can retreat at the end of the night, so they get creative. From cars and theaters to parks and even roller coaster rides, they’re up for almost any challenge — are you?” says Astroglide’s resident sexologist, Dr. Jess.
They Make Out – A Lot
For teenagers, “simply” making out is still a very big deal, and for many, it is the main event. “Remember how exciting messing around first was, when you made out feverishly while sliding your hands everywhere, trying to find a vulnerable zone in her clothing before coming in your Wranglers? So do we girls, and we miss it,” says dating coach and sex expert Laurel House.
While you may think it’s logical to toss your T-shirt, drop trou and get naked once you’re ready, women prefer to be seduced — or at least get a simulation of it. As a bonus, the more work you put in laying the foundation, the more she’ll be primed to get buck wild by the time you do get her panties off. “Studies show the average man can get off in less than three minutes, while it takes women at least 20 minutes — foreplay is the fuel that starts the motor,” says House.
They’re Carrying Condoms
We tend to paint the younger generations as immature and irresponsible, but when it comes to safer sex, they’re ahead of the game. “A recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine reported that young people are more likely to use condoms: among 14 to 17 year olds who are sexually active, 80 percent of males and 69 percent of females reported condom use at last intercourse, which is far higher than the figures for adults engaging in casual sex!” says Dr. Jess.
They Try To Impress Each Other
Remember how you use to fuss over your clothes or hair to make sure you looked “cute” to your boyfriend/girlfriend? That same behavior should still apply sometimes, says Dawn C. Reid, owner of Reid Ready Life Coaching, located in Clementon, NJ.
They Love Adventures
Teenagers and young adults are more likely to have physically active dates than older adults. And we’re not talking about motion below the belt. “Rarely do you see older couples/dates spending time at the batting cages, miniature golf, 5k’s, riding jet skis, etc.
Physical activity results in the release of endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that improve happiness. Combining physical activity with dating may be more likely to result in a pleasurable dating experience,” says Jared Heathman, MD, a psychiatrist. Go on an adventure; you’ll have a lot more to talk about at dinner after.
They Are Selfish
Teenagers are known to think that the world revolves around them, but that’s not always a bad thing. “We call teenagers selfish because they want what they want and are quick to say what they like and do not like. In working with men and women getting back in the dating scene, I have found that they do not ask for what they want for two primary reasons. The first reason is that they do not know what they want,” says Dr. Arcella J. Trimble of Peak Development Group, Inc., Executive Director and Licensed Psychologist.
Trimble says one interesting thing about teenagers is that they figure out what they want by doing what feels good to them. Unlike teenagers, adults end up abandoning their wants and replacing them with more practical thoughts. “The second reason why daters do not ask for what they want is because they somehow believe that they cannot get it. Teenagers believe that they can do or have anything and that they are invincible. Adults lose this belief generally due to negative experiences or others telling them that it is unrealistic to get what you want,” says Trimble.
Never dismiss your basic likes or wants when dating. First figure out what you want. If you do not like Chinese food or do not want to go wine tasting on a date because you do not drink, then say so up front. If you express your desires in a respectful manner, most people will understand and you give them permission to express what they want as well, says Trimble.
They Are Spontaneous
Teenagers, who as we all know are blessed (and cursed) with a crush of hormones, tend to approach dating with excitement, adventure, and a spirit of experimentation that many of us lose when we reach adulthood. “One of the things that teens tend to do, but grown-ups don’t, is allowing for dates to be organic rather than structured,” says Ben Michaelis, PhD, a clinical psychologist and author of Your Next Big Thing.
“Many teens may start out planning to go to a movie, but end up taking their parents’ car to Cape Cod instead (true story). This truly open-ended, romantic notion of dating that is more common in our early teen years should be a part of our practice when we are dating later in life. If you are reading this and are about to go on a date, I recommend that you start with a plan, but then see where things take you. Who knows, you may find yourself waking up eating lobster scrambled eggs at a seafood shack near Provincetown!” says Michaelis.