These are a few frequently asked questions about dating. If you have questions of your own or need more information, you can always chat with a trained peer advocate!
What is dating?
“Dating” means different things to different people, particularly across generations. At loveisrespect, we define “dating” as two people in an intimate relationship. The relationship may be sexual, but it does not have to be. It may be serious or casual, straight or gay, committed or open, short-term or long-term. The important thing to remember is that dating abuse can occur within all kinds of intimate relationships.
So, are we dating?
Whether you call it “dating” or something else, both people should agree on a definition and the same ground rules for the relationship. Keep these questions in mind:
- Do you have romantic feelings for this person?
- Are you and the person you’re interested in both looking for a committed relationship?
- Do you hang out or go on dates without a group of friends?
- Is the status of your relationship something you’ve shared with others in person or online, like on Facebook?
- Do both people in the relationship agree that it’s exclusive?
Does “hooking up” count?
Hooking up is a broad term, but generally it refers to casual encounters between two people who can be friends but don’t have to be. They may or may not be your only partner and can include sex.
Even if you are “hooking up,” your partner should not be disrespectful or controlling. You should be able to communicate your feelings without being afraid of negative consequences or abuse. Remember the rules for a healthy relationship apply to hook ups, too.
How old do I have to be to date?
There is no exact age when you can or cannot start dating. Many parents set an age according to their perspective, culture, views and beliefs. Consider talking to your parents, family and friends to see what their thoughts are. If you think that talking to your parents might be hard, start with your friends or other adults you trust. Ultimately, what matters is that you personally feel ready and confident to make this decision.
But what if I’m not dating?
There are other types of relationships that might not be considered dating that are just as real and that we can help you with here. Maybe you have a child with somebody but do not consider yourself to be in a dating relationship with that person. Having a child together could feel like more than just dating, or you might have chosen not to be together anymore; there is no one way that relationships must work.
Another possibility is that you and your partner are married. Of course marriage is different from dating in some ways, but you might be surprised at how similar they really are! What makes a dating relationship healthy or unhealthy usually applies to marriage as well.
At loveisrespect, we focus on dating but this site is relevant to everyone.
Is holding a grudge towards my partner unhealthy?
Yes, holding a grudge against your partner is unhealthy, not only for your relationship but also for you. Holding grudges for a long time can result in building up anger, distress, doubt and a lot of other negative feelings that can can make you unhappy and stressed. To maintain a healthy relationship, you need to be able to forgive your partner for their past mistakes. The other option is letting them go. Try to remember: being with a person you cannot forgive is not going to do either of you any good.
Is it unhealthy if I date someone my family doesn’t like?
Dating someone your family doesn’t like can be really hard. It may cause conflict that makes you feel like you can’t be honest or even near the people you love. Consider why your family doesn’t like your partner or why your partner doesn’t like them. Remember that isolation and no one liking your partner are warning signs of an abusive relationship.
We’re not “dating,” how can I be abused?
Abuse can affect all types of relationships, not just long-term or committed relationships. Even if your relationship is casual or you’ve only hooked up once, you can still experience abuse. If something makes you uncomfortable, scared or threatened, you could be experiencing the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship. Learn more about unhealthy relationships.
I’m a teen parent. Does that mean there’s a higher chance of me ending up in a violent relationship?
Sadly, yes. Pregnant and parenting teens are at a higher risk of experiencing physical abuse. Feeling discouraged? We’re here for you. You can chat with one of our advocates at any time of the day just by clicking the chat button, text us by sending “loveis” (capitalization does not matter) to 22522 or call us at 1-866-331-9474. We are available 24 hours a day!
What if I don’t feel safe talking to someone about what’s going on?
It’s common for people to not feel comfortable talking about their relationships, especially if they’re unhealthy. This is a hard topic to discuss, but talking about it can help. Here at loveisrespect, we have trained peer advocates who are friendly, non-judgmental and available 24/7. So feel free to contact us anytime and know that we’ll keep our conversations completely confidential.