Hey middle schooler. Do you want good dating advice?

Don’t go out with someone you wouldn’t consider marrying. Even in junior high.

The words seem foolish when you’re young, but first romances happen at young ages. I had my first love at age ten. We had secret dates at the school playground when my mom thought I was going on a bike ride.

I learned hard lessons about infatuation and dating between him and the man I married. Lessons that almost cost me my character and virginity. Most of them happened before I turned fifteen.

Though marriage is a long way from the minds of middle schoolers, it isn’t separate from the adult you. Romantic and sexual feelings are real for kids your age—your hormones are awakening and adult choices are within your grasp. Love is real. It involves anything from texting to being pressured for sexual favors.

If you’re thinking about getting into a relationship with the opposite sex, the following principle is important, so matter your age or intent of the relationship:

If it’s not someone you’d consider marrying, then don’t pursue a romantic relationship with them.

Why?

Time with someone changes you. It changes your character. If the hottie at the school dance keeps looking at you, but he’s a player, being his girlfriend won’t change him. It’ll change you. Even if you don’t stay with him very long, you’ll get hurt in the end.

As a middle school and high school teacher, I saw lots of kids whose reputation and character changed because of their romantic relationships. After romances ended, students struggled to find their way back to themselves and the values with which they were raised. A few who married ended up divorcing early, realizing their partner wasn’t a healthy match for a lifetime. 

For a lot of them, these romances started in middle school.

When girls or guys ask you out, ask yourself, “What’s their character? Is this someone I would consider marrying?”

If the answer’s “no,” then simply smile.

Save your heart, mind, and body for the one who is worthy of your whole life.

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