When it comes to teen dating, a new study found that students not in a romantic relationship had stronger social skills and were less depressed than their peers.
The Journal of School Health published a study from survey-based research of 594 students in the 10th grade and concluded that students who weren’t dating had significantly higher teacher ratings of social skills and leadership.
Additionally, it found that those students also had lower ratings of depression compared to peers who were dating.
All students had similar scores of positive relationships with friends and showed no difference in frequency of suicidal thoughts.
The majority of adolescents who were involved in romantic relationships by middle adolescence, used a broad definition that included spending time with or going out with someone for more than a month.
This study confirmed that teens who don’t conform to dating in adolescence end up faring well, and perhaps better than their peers in romantic relationships.
The authors of the study explain that dating in adolescence is considered normative behavior and that these relationships could provide a valuable opportunity for important developmental tasks like identity formation and experimentation with sexuality.
Dr. Lauren Kelly, who is part of the ABC News medical unit, says the study raises concerns about relationships that may leave adolescents at higher risk for depression and may promote problem behaviors like substance abuse and risky sex.
The authors suggest that teen health promotion should focus on non-dating as another option for healthy development, Kelly said.
“Students who don’t date might feel like they’re not on track, but this study shows us that kids who aren’t dating may be more well-adjusted than those who are,” she added.