Teens Who Don’t Date Are More Socially Skilled and Less Depressed


The teachers were not told anything about the dating histories of their students when they evaluated them; they were just asked to report their assessments. The teachers judged the students who were not dating as doing better than the students who were dating as better off in every way: They rated them highest on social skills and leadership attributes. They also perceived them as less depressed than the students who did date.

When the students reported their own feelings of sadness and hopelessness, again it was the students who did not date who were the least likely to feel so sad or hopeless that they stopped doing some of their usual activities.

The students who did not date did not differ from those who did in their tendency to think about suicide. They also did not differ in their reports of how positive their relationships were with their friends or with people at home or at school.

In sum, students who did not date were in some ways no different than those who did. Whenever there was a difference, it favored the students who did not date. There was no way in which the students who did not date did worse – not by their own reports about their lives, and not according to the judgments of their teachers.

It is important to note, as I always do, that studies like this don’t tell us anything definitive about causality. We don’t know whether the students who did not date were more socially skilled, better leaders, and less depressed because they were not dating. Maybe it works in the reverse directio: Students who are socially skilled and less depressed are less likely to date. Or maybe something else causes both – for example, maybe students who prioritize their schoolwork are more likely to be socially skilled and less likely to date.

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