* Osage Advice will resume in September 2016 – Happy Summer! *
Dear Miss Osage,
What is the point of dating? A lot of my friends are making a big deal about it, and I just don’t understand. Is there something I’m missing?
Mystified at Middle School, age 12
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Wow, the bigger questions! Thank you so much for bringing it up…
First, there is nothing wrong with being a bit baffled by the whole thing. Totally natural.
The thing to keep in mind is timing and experience. During middle school, kids mature at very different rates and have widely different experiences. In any given class, half could be very preoccupied with romance/dating while the other half is more indifferent or aloof. My guess is, if you really looked around, you would find you are not as alone as you might think.
A lot has to do with hormones – a word you may have heard used in bewildered or dismissing tones. Every body is a delicate mix and balance of hormones at any given time. Hormones influence the systems of our bodies and fluctuate throughout a life. During puberty, certain hormone levels rise – estrogen for girls, testosterone for boys, and oxytocin in both sexes. Sexual maturity means that a lot of biological development is at play. These changes will make some people very responsive to romantic feelings early on, while others will experience the sensations later, or in different ways.
I always say, just like plants in a garden naturally (and beautifully) grow at different rates, and in different shapes, our bodies are much the same.
The actual -point- of dating will vary a bit depending on a person’s values. According to the research though, making a deep connection to one person based on trust, respect and understanding can enhance a person’s overall health. The thrill, physical and emotional, of developing this kind of bond will eventually happen for most people – but in no rush. Being truly known, and knowing another (intimacy) is often considered the most fundamental of human needs.
Intimacy happens in our families, our friendships, and with romantic partners. Someone can be completely satisfied with the level of intimacy in their life, without ‘dating’ or being swept up in romance. This is also very natural. Finding meaning through your interests, hobbies and being of service is totally valid. Things come in their right time.
Growing as a person, and knowing yourself well, is a hugely valuable process that is supported by not focusing on dating before you are ready. So, there is value in this time for you, absolutely. I would encourage you to do your best to have acceptance for yourself, and your friends, along the way. Just trust that you are in different places – and both are good and true for each person.
I would also encourage you to go forth in this realm only when you truly feel the urge for yourself. It may take extra courage to be honest and hold to what you are feeling. But this as well is a practice in becoming the best version of You.
The meaning of dating for you will be a unique reflection of you and your life when it naturally arises. The point will be meaningful for you, especially if you pay attention to what has meaning in every area of your life.
Trust, have acceptance and stay true. It will all be clear in time.
Best of Luck ~