Dating: The New Sneaky Evil?

As if the topic of dating wasn’t complicated enough, the University of Georgia has decided to throw 10 wrenches and a curveball into the fray. Science Daily reports that a new study indicates “students who date in middle school have significantly worse study skills, are four times more likely to drop out of school and report twice as much alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use than their single classmates”. File this one under “WTF Am I Supposed To Do With This Info?”

The study doesn’t exactly clarify what “dating” means by their standards, but this one is really an unwieldy can of worms. Dating is an important part of self-discovery. Ironically, it can really distract from self-discovery. Does “dating” refer to sex? Hand holding? Make-outs behind the gym? Kissing at parties?

The study followed a test group of 624 students for 7 years and ran surveys on them each year. “Success” was measured by high school drop out rates and yearly teacher reports on students’ study skills. Quantifying success is always a tricky endeavor. Additionally, there may be extenuating factors not highlighted in the study causing this correlation. Maybe there’s something about the particular region of Georgia (sorry, Georgia) where the study was conducted that lead to this type of behavior in the test group. Maybe families that allowed dating have another common factor not accounted for by the study. Who knows?

As a social science nerd, this set my brain spinning and caused a light sweat or two. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting jumping off point and one that I wish I had been aware of when I was staring to date. Maybe I would have done exactly the same thing, maybe I would have held off on dating for a year or two or maybe it doesn’t make a difference at all. All I know is Tina Fey waited until 24 to lose her virginity… and she pretty much rules the world. Do with this information what you will.

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