What to do when dating in middle school

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"Dating a classmate may have the same emotional complications of dating a co-worker.

When the couple splits, they have to continue to see each other in class and perhaps witness the ex-partner dating someone else.

And although we already know that junior high school dating was a major drama-fest that certainly distracted from our studies (the number of times I comforted a crying friend in the girls' bathroom during class!

) those of us whose 14-year-old milkshakes didn't bring the boys to the yard may be the better for it, according to a new study out of the University of Georgia.

At the end of the day, "it's better than saying they shouldn't date at all." "What is healthy is being in a group of boys and girls and transitioning from same-sex-only groups into groups in contact with the other sex," says Connolly.

Groups can offer a safe, protective way for kids to learn.

UGA's research, drawn from following a group of 624 students over a seven-year period from sixth to 12th grade, found that kids who began dating in middle school had worse study skills, were four times more likely to drop out of school and reported twice as much alcohol, tobacco and weed use than their single counterparts.

With this knowledge of the dating scene, why would anyone allow their tween to start dating?

Researchers classify early dating as a component of the same "high-risk behavior" that will later lead these kids to drugs and alcohol at a younger age than others.

Researchers also speculate that the subsequent in-class weirdness following a breakup lends itself to poor academics.

Teens are not simply going through a worse version of the gossip an adult might face during a breakup.

“Teens live off of Facebook in seventh and eighth grade in a way that we don’t as adults,” says Ponton.

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