The Unwritten Rules for Teenage Dating 2021

The Unwritten Rules of Dating 2021 – now Written

I have been fascinated for a long time about how young people create and then police norms about relationships and dating.

There have always been rules to follow in school about how you ask someone out and how long you need to wait and so on – but I found myself stumped by what my son was describing this year and the very specific route he had to follow with someone he liked.

I was chatting to S3 girls in one of the schools I visit about this and we decided to map it out – this should be a bit of a laugh but also useful if you’re a parent, grandparent or a carer of one or more teenagers!  

Did you know there is a difference between talking and speaking? there is!

So here goes – now, you can move up and down through these stages, you can go back to one and jump to another so long as you’ve observed the correct protocol at least once! 

Stage Rules 
Snapping Not yet at the ‘talking’ stage but you are sending snaps to each other on SnapchatYou’re both chatting this way, not in person yet You can be Snapping more than one person to begin with  This stage is where you are ‘interested’ in someone   
TalkingYou are both starting to like each other You will start talking for longer – it’s not ‘exclusive’ yet but if you do like each other you should think about not snapping others You might not speak as much at school just yet as this stage is still kept low keyYou can move form Snapping to talking but also can go back to Snapping if Talking is not going very well 
Speaking This is not the same as talking At this stage you are ‘pinned’ on snapchat – so at or near the top of your list You start to get closer You are not ‘speaking’ or ‘talking’ to anyone else  You will meet up and spend time together ‘in person’ – and go on ‘dates’ possibly. You can move from Speaking to Talking, or even back to snapping if things are not going well bit aren’t ‘over’ yet 
Going Out This only happens after an acceptable time “speaking’ the usual is about a month This is where you ‘put a label on it’ BF GF or BF BF or GF GF  Girls who are attracted to boys want the boy to do the asking at this stage  Pupils that are LGBTQ have told me that the process is very similar but tends to happen when you’re a bit older and not in S2/S3It is possible to move back to Speaking early door – but the longer you are speaking, the more secure going out is believed to be  
Break Up The Ick    
What it says in the tin This can also be a result of any one of the 3 stages of ‘The Ick’ Stage 1 – start to go off someone – you might take longer to reply to snaps – like 5 minutes instead of 1 Stage 2 – When you make plans – you might not go or might not really want to go but do – but you’re a bit cold if ye do  Stage 3 – Everything a person does gives you ‘the ick’ – there is no going back from this stage    

So, there you have it, if you want to know what your teenager’s relationship status is, if they are in secondary school, it would appear this is a good indicator.

As always, it’s good to be able to connect with what your child and their pals are going through and to talk to them about what is happening. 

Interestingly, when I ask young people who makes sure the rules are followed, the answer is ‘each other’. They are not sure who came up with these rules, but they all know them and feel obliged to follow them.

I have been heartened to hear that girls ‘do not like it’ when boys try and tell them what to do or what stage they are it. Keep this up girls.

And pupils that are LGBTQ do say it’s a similar process, but they might not go through it in S2 and S3 but will in S4 and S5 when their awareness of and perhaps the visibility of other LGBTQ pupils increases. 

Is this a Glasgow thing? Let me know 

Huge thanks to Leoni and Courtney for this too

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