ALL NEWS

High schoolers who don’t date are less depressed than their counterparts who do, study says

Sep 11, 2019, 5:56 AM
Stock Image...
Stock Image

(CNN) — Dating is a normal part of adolescence — and a formative one at that. Decades of research have suggested a link between romantic relationships and identity development as teenagers mature into young adults.

But a recent study published in the Journal of School Health reveals that adolescents who choose not to date fare as well as, or better than, their coupled counterparts in social and leadership skills.

They’re also less depressed.

“We know that romantic relationships are very common among adolescents — in fact, a majority have been involved in some type of romantic activity by 15 to 17 years of age,” says Brooke Douglas, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia who conducted the study with Dr. Pamela Orpinas.

“It’s also known that romantic relationships are important for teenagers’ individual development and wellbeing. So that made us ask: What does this say about teenagers who are not dating? Are they social misfits?”

It turns out, they’re not

Through a combination of self-reported student surveys and teacher feedback, data was gathered on the dating habits of sixth through 12th-graders, along with key emotional and behavioral information.

The data was originally published in a 2013 study conducted by Orpinsas, which revealed a number of dating patterns among the students — some dated more frequently with age, others took breaks from relationships at various times.

But Douglas was most interested in the “low” dating group comprised of students who dated, on average, once throughout middle and high school, with some reporting no romantic relationships at all.

To follow the 2013 study, Douglas and Orpinas compared the social and emotional data of 10th graders and found that a lack of romantic relationships had not hindered the development of the “low” daters.

On the contrary, based on the teacher feedback, the students in this group were overall rated higher in social and leadership skills, and lower in depression than those in other dating groups.

One thing to note

As Douglas points out, the teacher surveys were a crucial aspect of the study, as self-reported surveys can lead to a response bias from participants. Especially when probing sensitive issues — like depression and suicide — that students might not feel comfortable reporting, “teachers are the best people to give information.”

Other limitations of the study include that all the participants were from a single region in Georgia and had limited racial diversity. While almost half of the students were white, just over 1% were Asian.

Nonetheless, the results stand counter to the notion that to be a well-adjusted and socially competent adolescent, you must experience a romantic relationship. Students who don’t date are doing just fine. “They don’t lack general social competence, they have friends, just like teenagers who are dating,” says Douglass.

She emphasizes, however, that the study should not be interpreted as a suggestion that teens should not date. Remaining single is simply one choice that adolescents can make — and it doesn’t make them abnormal or socially stunted.

“In school-based programs we focus a lot on healthy relationship skills, which are important, but also assume that teenagers are dating,” she said. “This study affirms that it’s ok if you decide to date or decide not to date. Both are acceptable and healthy.”

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

Salt Lake City Police took a 44-year-old man into custody on Wednesday in connection to the burglar...
Mark Jones

SLC Police arrest man for burglarizing two law offices

Salt Lake City Police say a 44-year-old man was arrested Wednesday in connection to burglarizing two downtown law offices last week.
21 hours ago
Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson wants his old job back. ...
Mark Jones

Rocky Anderson announces bid to run for SLC mayor in 2023

Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson announced Wednesday that he is seeking reelection to get his old job back.
21 hours ago
Orem auto-pedestrian collision...
Mark Jones

Two people hurt in auto-pedestrian collision in Orem

Orem police are investigating an auto-pedestrian collision that sent two people to the hospital Wednesday afternoon.
21 hours ago
Fatal car crash...
Waverly Golden

Salt Lake City Police investigate deadly auto-pedestrian collision

SLC 9-1-1 received information about a deadly auto-pedestrian collision involving a Nissan pick-up Wednesday afternoon, according to Salt Lake City Police Department.
21 hours ago
Businesses are back open in Sugar House after a four alarm fire in October, but fire officials don'...
Alejandro Lucero

Cause of Sugar House fire could remain unknown another month

The SLC Fire Department is closing in on a cause for the Sugar House fire, but one official said it could take another month to know.
21 hours ago
making way for The Point, a guard tower is knocked down as part of the old state prison's demolitio...
Aimee Cobabe

As the old state prison goes down, development of The Point begins

The Point will take about two decades for developers to finish, but leaders in the project are optimistic that the planned community will be worth the wait.
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
High schoolers who don’t date are less depressed than their counterparts who do, study says