Voices of Native Youth

Urgent Advice About Dating at a Young Age

A high school senior advises kids to think before they start dating. Just because everyone else seems to be hooking up doesn't mean you need to! #dating #highschool #middleschool #relationships #consequences #graduate

Dating Young Seems Fun, but…

Many Native Americans have had experience with or are currently in, unhealthy relationships. I think this happens because most Natives haven’t seen what a good relationship looks like. As Native youth grow up, they often don’t see good role models of healthy relationships from their family members. We’ve also started dating young, and I think that since we’re young and haven’t been shown what a relationship is supposed to be like, we have unhealthy ones ourselves. 

Adolescents should avoid dating relationships. You should not only look at the nice things that could possibly come out of the relationship but also the bad. Unhealthy relationships can cause negative emotional and physical consequences.

Dating isn’t all about Roses and Kisses

When you get into a relationship, you’re probably thinking about the nice things that can come of it, not the bad things that could possibly happen. Before getting into or even considering a dating relationship, you should evaluate both the good and bad things that could happen. I know this may seem boring, or even pointless, because your young minds just don’t want to be lonely. But this will allow you to see the cost of the relationship—both positive and negative.

According to Anita Ojeda, you should weigh the positive and the negative consequences. When you do this, if there are more negatives than positives, then you know the relationship wouldn’t be a good idea. Therefore, make a chart or something that separates the good and bad before starting the relationship.

Dating can Depress You

A high school senior advises kids to think before they start dating. Just because everyone else seems to be hooking up doesn't mean you need to! #dating #highschool #middleschool #relationships #consequences #graduate

When you start a relationship you’re all lovey-dovey and happy; you can’t imagine the relationship not working out. Because Natives aren’t exposed to what a good relationship should look like from childhood, we don’t know what to expect. We may come from an abusive family or background and might start acting out like that in a relationship. Since Natives basically grew up around lying and stealing or cheating you might act out like that in a relationship. According to domesticshelters.org, the National Institute of Justice did a study showing 84 percent of Native American women have faced violence in their lives and half of that is caused by an intimate partner. Alcholol-related abuse is not only found within the Native American culture, it’s a universal concept.  

Men suffer from domestic abuse, too—not just women. I have adolescent family members who have gotten depressed from being in a relationship. I myself have been let down from an unhealthy relationship and have gone through depression. This type of emotional negativity shouldn’t be coming from a relationship at a young age. Adolescents can get emotional consequences like these from dating while young. 

Things You Think Will Never Happen to You

In addition to the emotional consequences, there are other negative consequences. When you date, you might get distracted. You may not focus in school completely because you spend all your time thinking about something relating to your relationship or the other person. It can cause you to fall behind in school work from lack of concentration. 

When you date, your teenage hormones can take over sometimes, and you and your partner can get sexual. It can start with kissing and lead to something else. According to advocatesforyouth.org, 31 babies are born to every 1,000 Natives between the ages 15-19. I know at least seven people who got pregnant before finishing high school.

It's hard to take care of a baby while trying to finish school. #dating Click To Tweet

It’s hard to take care of a baby while trying to finish school. It can lead to dropping out and not graduating. That is another negative consequence to dating as an adolescent. Having a boyfriend or girlfriend at a young age can lead to negative consequences. 

Just Say, “No!”

You shouldn’t date at a young age. I know you probably feel like you have to, because it might seem fun. Maybe a relative had a relationship at a young age and so you think nothing bad will happen to you. But these reasons should help you stop and think. Especially if you don’t have anyone warning you about the dangers of relationships at a young age.

Before you get into a relationship, you should list the good and bad things that could come with it. Being in a relationship will cause emotional consequences. Not every relationship brings abuse or causes depression, but it will affect your emotions. You also want to look out for the negative consequences of relationships such as distractions and pregnancy. 

Also, since both teenagers are still basically children and aren’t on their own then you’re not mature enough to be caring about someone else’s needs when you have your own. Just worry about yourself for now and avoid dating at a young age.

Davarena (a.k.a Dave) is a Navajo currently finishing her last year of high school and preparing for her college education. Dave is an eccentric foodie with dispraxia who loves her puppy, Oliver.

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