The Correct Age for First Boyfriend and Girlfriend

Courtney asks: At what age should you have a boyfriend?

Ah, Courtney, this is a very dicey question!  There are two terms that must be defined here – “Age” and “Boyfriend.”


Now I had my first boyfriend when I was about six months old.  I met Kuma at the dog park, and we fell madly in love and would beat the living daylights out of each other every chance we got.  But of course a six-month-old puppy is very different in maturity from a six-month-old human!  If Kuma had done to a baby what he did to me, the police would have jailed him for assaulting and abusing a child!


But the even tougher question is what you mean by “Boyfriend.”  I see three- and four-year old children all the time who say they’re Boyfriend and Girlfriend.  And they’re serious – they really love each other.  And there’s nothing at all wrong with that, it’s really very cute.  (In Handsome’s case, he had a girlfriend like that, and she was also his first cousin!  Now when you’re five years old, that’s sweet; but when you’re fifteen, that’s illegal!).


So I’m guessing that you mean to ask how old one should be before they start dating, and even more specifically, before they should start any activities that have a sexual sort of romantic nature to them.  After all, there IS a difference between two six-year-olds holding hands and two twelve-year-olds holding hands.  It feels different, it even looks different.  And this difference isn’t something that society, or adults, or religions, or even really nice dogs decide – it’s just something the hand-holders feel.


So I’m going to really change your question, to say: At what age is it appropriate for humans to begin to act on their adult feelings, and at what rate should that escalate?  (Boy that sure sounds romantic, doesn’t it?!  I’ll bet you can tell I’ve been spayed!)


My main answer is that everything should move s-l-o-w-l-y.  Handsome went on his first official “date” in seventh grade, near his 13th birthday.  They went to a movie with some other kids, and they held hands.  I don’t see anything to complain about regarding that, though of course some cultures consider that behavior way too familiar.


(Which leads me to my most annoying point:  Different cultures have different rules.  Orthodox Jewish men and women never touch each other unless they’re family.  We hear a lot about some groups of Muslims who don’t even allow women to show their faces in public.  There are no absolute rules about these things.)


What matters most is that everyone is safe and yet able to grow.  It breaks my heart to see girls having babies when they’re fourteen – they’re going to miss out on growing through so many wonderful things in their teen years.  But it’s also heartbreaking to see adults who’ve never had any romance because they were scared off from it.  I’ve said it elsewhere, but it really comes down to that old song Handsome likes:

We’re on the road to romance

That’s safe to say

But let’s make all the stops

Along the way


Enjoy each step.  Enjoy taking your time.  Even enjoy the excitement of holding off on things.  And if you can do that, then it’s really never too early to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend.  All you’re doing is putting a word onto a feeling you two have for each other.  A wonderful, exciting, happy, delightful feeling of love.  What could possibly be wrong with that?!


Hmm…  I think I’m gonna go bug Handsome to take me to the park!


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