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July 2018

Let’s Talk About Dating—Promoting Discussions About Adolescent Dating and Early Romantic Relationships

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York–Presbyterian Hospital
  • 2Department of Pediatrics, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York–Presbyterian Hospital
  • 3Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York–Presbyterian Hospital
JAMA Pediatr. 2018;172(7):611-612. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.0392

A 12-year-old boy tells his pediatrician that he has a girlfriend. A 13-year-old girl tells her mother that her best friend is actually more than just a friend.

Initiating dating and romantic relationships is a unique and meaningful experience for an adolescent. This developmental milestone is also important for the development of the skills needed to maintain healthy adult relationships. First romantic relationships often begin in early to middle adolescence. Nearly half of eighth graders have already had at least 1 date.1 Yet clinicians often do not take the time with early adolescents and their parents to provide counseling about these romantic relationships, and many parents may not feel ready to have these discussions with their early adolescents or tend to focus their conversations on sexual decision-making.

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