Dating is one personal milestone that can be awkward to discuss with your parents because it includes emotional and sometimes physical intimacy. Keep in mind your parents were teens once and probably have learned a lot about dating, then strike up some honest conversations. Get tips on how to talk to your parents about dating here.
Know Your Dating Ideals
Before you bring up the subject with your folks, make sure you know what dating looks and feels like to you. Answer a few simple questions in your own mind so you'll be better prepared for the conversation.
- What do you consider as a date?
- Aside from actual outings, what other activities does dating involve?
- What days of the week or times are reasonable to go out on dates?
- Are there specific age limits for people you date?
- Where do you think you'll meet potential partners?
- Do you have boundaries or time frames regarding physical relationships?
Bring It Up in Advance
Don't wait until you've been asked on a date to talk to your parents about it. Knowing ahead of time what is okay and not okay gives you the freedom to accept a date when offered. Conversations about dating can happen more than once and will likely change as you get older. Start talking to your parents as soon as you become interested in other people as more than friends.
Catch Them Calm
Any important conversation goes better when everyone is in a calm, relaxed state. Look for opportunities to chat with your parents when they are in a good mood. Setting up a time in advance could be helpful, as it will give them a chance to discuss their shared views on dating. Parents feel much more prepared when they can present a united front. Let them know you'd like to get their thoughts on dating and schedule a private talk on their day off work.
Ask, Don't Tell
Since you're still expected to follow your parents' rules, you'll probably need their permission to start dating. Try to make sure most of the conversation consists of questions from you rather than statements. This will make your parents feel more respected and show your maturity. Ask questions such as:
- What age do you think is good to start dating?
- When did you start dating?
- What counts as a date?
- What rules would I need to follow to start dating?
- What is your best dating advice?
Back Up Your Stance
Trying to start dating with strict parents can feel difficult. If your parents disagree with you about when and how you can start dating, come prepared with some facts to back up your side. Listen to their preferences, then share that you've done some research they might find interesting.
- The average girl starts dating at age 12 and a half while boys start at 13 and a half.
- Dating means different things to different people. Kids today go on group dates, spend time chatting on the phone or online, or interact at school only.
- Pediatricians recommend kids don't start going on individual dates until age 16.
Negotiate the Terms
Walk into the conversation with the expectation that your hopes and your parents' rules probably won't match up perfectly. Be prepared to negotiate some of the dating terms, including letting some of your wishes go without a fight. If you can keep a level head and your emotions in check to show your parents you're willing to give a little if they are, they're more likely to work with you. For example, maybe they say no dates on weeknights, but agree to a later curfew when you do go out.
Follow Through With Your Agreements
Whatever you agree to with your parents, make sure you follow through. Stick to the guidelines now and they're more likely to change them in the future. Your parents really just want to protect you from any negativity, so cut them a break. Let them know if you had a good time or not after your date and give them a minor detail or two so they feel included and informed.
When to Tell Your Parents You're Dating Someone
Decide ahead of time when you'll tell your parents that you've started officially dating someone. This may come as part of the agreement you make with them. They might want to know when you're casually seeing someone, even if it's not an official relationship. Some parents might be okay with you waiting to tell them until after you've had time to really get to know the person you're dating. In general, it's best not to wait too long before letting your parents know you have a new serious love interest.
How to Tell Your Parents You Have a Partner
Knowing how to tell your parents you have a boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner is equally as important as when you tell them. Ideally, you will already have set the groundwork with some conversations you've had ahead of time. When it's time to let them know you've found a special person that you want to keep seeing, you'll want to approach it tactfully. Here are some general guidelines:
- Highlight the positive attributes of your partner, especially if your parents don't already know them. If they do know them, remind them of how great that person is and how much you like them and want to be with them. Don't withhold information or be secretive, and don't lie about anything.
- Choose the right time when they are relaxed and can process what you are telling them and ask you questions.
- Remind your parents that you will respect and follow their rules around dating, such as following curfew or how much time you spend with them.
- If you think one parent will have an easier time with this information, it's okay to approach that parent first and plan how to talk to your other parent.
- If your parents are strict and you feel like you need their approval, you may want to ask their permission before you make it official.
- Offer your parents the opportunity to meet them and their parents as soon as possible.
Examples of What to Say:
If you have an inkling you want to officially be with the person you've been dating, you can drop hints to your parents about it beforehand and make them feel included. Here are some examples of how to bring it up:
- Do you remember Evan? He came to my birthday party and we had a great time. He is really smart and funny, and I enjoy spending time with him. He finally told me he likes me, and I like him, too. I think we might start dating soon.
- There's this girl in band that I really like named Katie. You'd like her, too. I think I might ask her to be my girlfriend. Do you have any advice?
- I've been talking to Tyler a lot lately and he asked me to be his boyfriend, but I wanted to talk to you about it first and make sure it's okay with you.
If you've already started dating your person, approach the topic in a respectful way, like these examples:
- You know how I have been hanging out with Shannon a lot lately? We really like each other and have decided to officially start dating. We will follow whatever rules you and her parents set for us, like the ones we discussed before.
- Mom, there's this really nice boy who I have been talking to a lot lately. We like the same music and movies, and he thinks I'm hilarious. The best part is that he's easy to talk to and I can tell he cares about me. He asked if I would be his girlfriend, and I said yes. Can I bring him over to meet you soon?
Be Mature Enough for the Subject
If you're feeling super uncomfortable or awkward talking to your parents about dating, you might not be quite ready to date. This talk with your folks is a great way to start getting used to discussing difficult topics. It's always best to approach the subject with respect, maturity, and transparency. This will help your parents see that you are ready to start dating.