Does dating hurt or help school performance?

pizzasquare asks: Does dating affect test scores differently for boys and girls? What I mean is that, if a girl went into a relationship with a boy, would her academics be likely to drop or raise? And what would be the case if a boy entered a relationship with a girl?

Hi pizzasquare –


This is a great question, and I’m going to give you a really weird answer to it: Does buying a puppy raise or lower academic scores?


It’s not hard to come up with an answer. Let’s say a good student who spends three hours a night on homework buys a puppy and falls head over heels in love with it. From the moment she gets home, she wants nothing more than to play with the little ankle-biter, to cuddle him, to dress him up, to take him on walks, to show him to her friends, to post pictures of him online, all that. Then when she studies, she wants to have him there with her, but she’s constantly distracted by how amazingly cute he is when he sleeps (because he’s very bored by her history book unless he can chew on it). Then she wants to have him by her on her bed when she sleeps as well, and he wakes up every couple of hours needing to play or pee. What happens to her marks in school? They plummet! She goes from an A-student to a C-student in a matter of weeks!


Okay, but let’s look at another student. Let’s say she’s a fair student, but she’s lonely and a bit sad. There’s nothing in her life that inspires her to do well in anything. And she gets that same puppy. Suddenly, she’s taking long walks, which give her the exercise and the oxygen she’s been lacking. And whenever she starts to feel bad about herself or her social life, the cutest, most awesome face in the world walks up to her and looks her in the eyes saying “You’re My Everything!” Her self-esteem improves. Instead of staying up till one in the morning watching TV shows she doesn’t even like, she looks forward to going to bed, where she can cuddle her new best friend. When kids at school don’t include her in what they’re doing, she’s actually a little pleased, because instead of hanging out with those crummy people, she gets to go home and do homework next to her favorite being – and hey, doing that makes her grades go up so her teachers and parents are happier with her, and her future is looking better too! She goes from a C-student to an A-student, thanks to that same puppy!


So now, pizzasquare, let’s look at dating the same way. Dating can be really fun. It can do wonders for a girl’s, or a boy’s, self-esteem. It can give a teenager a reason to love their life, it can give them direction, it can make them strive to do better in all they do. And hey, if the two have homework in the same class, homework itself can be a date, and the fun of being together can make them each want to do more work!


At the same time, dating can eat up someone’s whole life. They spend hours a day texting or talking, they fall in love and are so happy in it they can’t concentrate on anything else, they get jealous or frightened and spend their time checking up on their beloved or doubting their friends… and yes, it’s almost guaranteed that, at some time, they’re going to get their heart broken. And when that happens, oh boy, I promise you, schoolwork looks like the most irrelevant thing in the universe! Just try to do math problems when your world has fallen apart!


So my answer to your question of whether dating makes academics rise or fall, is “YES.” My answer to your question of whether it changes things more for a boy or a girl, is also “YES.”


And my answer as to whether one should date because it is so fun and exciting and one of the best parts about being a teenager, or one shouldn’t because it’s consuming and confusing and can be devastating… is… you guessed it… “YES.”


Like so much else in life, pizzasquare, dating is what you make it. The difference between it and most other things you might choose to do is that it’s what you two make it.


So my advice is to be careful, but live your life. Go out on dates, but don’t forget to do your homework. Move forward in your journey, but take your time, and don’t let anyone talk or force you into anything you don’t feel absolutely ready to do. Let your heart open up, but understand that there’s always a chance that the person you let in – even if they’re nice – can hurt you a lot, so have ways to take care of yourself if that happens.


And if it turns out badly, or just uninteresting? Well I know a great solution, to make your life exciting and fun again, without the dangers of dating… Just what I talked about at first – go get yourself a puppy!!!


All my best,


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Anonymous - July 15, 2014 Reply

Thank you this was easily helpful. I have another question but I’ll post it separately.

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