Dating a 13 year old

” Catherine: “OK.” The two Toronto-area teens have been going out since last April, although rarely on their own.In their group of eight friends, the four boys and four girls are paired off into couples, but prefer to spend their time all together, sitting around and talking at one another’s houses, grabbing something to eat, going to a movie. “We just feel better when we’re together,” Catherine explains.’ You all decide to see a movie and you’ll all get separate drives there.You usually don’t go out one-on-one.” And there are some other interesting developments in this brave new world, including the fact that teens feel freer to put off sex, and they see love, marriage and kids as best left for the (fairly) distant future.Eleven-year-old Charles, a bright, sociable, engaging sixth-grader in the Toronto area, was shocked to hear last spring that a buddy’s school in a nearby town would be hosting a grade-five dance.“I think that’s just ridiculous,” says Charles, who doesn’t feel ready for that kind of intimacy with girls.

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Regardless, there are still many, many kids who haven’t the slightest interest in going out.Having supportive friends around can exert a powerful moderating influence.But by the same token, a tough, aggressive peer group can have a negative influence, such as tolerating dating violence.A couple may never see or speak to each other outside of school, although they may well enjoy the new status accorded them by their peers.These types of short-lived pairings — relationships in name only — jump in numbers by grades six and seven, when alcohol increasingly becomes part of many parties.“If I get bored [on a date], my friends keep things interesting,” Katie says.The downside for parents: You may not even be aware that your child has a boyfriend or girlfriend.“I just spent the weekend at my grandparents’ place moving rocks.That’s my idea of fun.” There’s certainly been an increase in boy-girl parties at younger ages, including mixed sleepovers.“We call it group dating, and we believe it can be really healthy and protective,” says Jennifer Connolly, a psychology professor at York University in Toronto who specializes in teen relationships.Connolly, who has two adolescent daughters of her own, says that group dating is growing in popularity everywhere, including China and India.

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