Remember when you were in middle school and you had a crush on the cute boy in your class? You snuck notes during homeroom and made out behind the bleachers and it all seemed like perfectly innocent puppy love, remember?
Well, dating in middle school may have just been the thing that screwed up your life.
That's because according to new research: "Students who date in middle school have significantly worse study skills, are four times more likely to drop out of school and report twice as much alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use than their single classmates."
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Sounds harsh. Pamela Orpinas, a professor from the College of Public Health at the University of Georgia, followed the lives of 600-plus students from sixth grade up to high school graduation. Each school year, the students answered a questionnaire about their dating experiences and researchers tracked how their experience (or lack thereof) corresponded with their academic performance and use of drugs or alcohol.
"Some students never or hardly ever reported dating from middle to high school, and these students had consistently the best study skills according to their teachers," Orpinas says. "Other students dated infrequently in middle school, but increased the frequency of dating in high school. We also saw a large number of students who reported dating since sixth grade."
Children in these early dating groups were twice as likely to use alcohol and drugs. "Dating a classmate may have the same emotional complications of dating a co-worker," Orpinas says. “When the couple splits, they have to continue to see each other in class and perhaps witness the ex-partner dating someone else. It is reasonable to think this scenario could be linked to depression and divert attention from studying."
Based off her study, Orpinas suggests that dating shouldn't be considered a rite of passage in middle school.
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Apparently, I beat the odds.
I met my fiancé in middle school. (You can read all about our sappy pizza-centric love story here. That would make him the only serious boyfriend I’ve ever had in my whole life. We both went on graduate high school — and then college — without a whole lot of drama.
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