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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Dating Triumphs & Tragedies > Dating Like a Kid

Dating Triumphs and Tragedies
by Nicole Roberge

Dating Like a Kid Again

I was recently asked out by an eighth-grader.  Yes, it’s gotten that bad.  While I politely turned him down, I also had to think: a) you wouldn’t have been asking me out when I was in 8th grade, and b) you’ve got guts, kid.  I know men in their 30’s that aren’t that bold.

So what happened?  Where did that courage go?  When men are younger, they’ll do anything to get a girl’s attention.  Over the years, that confidence dwindles, and they are just as afraid to approach a woman, as we are to respond.

Fear of rejection?  Maybe. Society’s standards saying “that’s not appropriate behavior!” Sure.


Either way, I had to appreciate the bold move even though it was a little creepy.

It made me wonder if things would be easier if adults treated dating like youngin’s do.  You know, if you’re at a bar and you find yourself attracted to someone, so you send your friend over and she asks him, “Will you ‘go out’ with my friend?”  If he says “yes,” then you end up being boyfriend/girlfriend for about two weeks without ever really seeing each other or going anywhere.  Then one tragic day, your friend gets the call from his friend that he wants to break up with you because he’s now “going out” with some other girl.  You’re heartbroken and cross out all of your initials that you wrote down together on your notebook.

Okay, that’s kind of extreme, but doesn’t it sound familiar?

But what if we took elements of a younger approach to dating?  Got rid of all the weird games that adults play.  Were more straightforward and honest, or rather, blunt.  If you like someone, tell them, don’t wait because you want to make sure they like you first.  Chances are they do, but they’re waiting to hear it from you.  Don’t stall, buddy.  Be brazen!

And compliments.  Yes, those nice things that one person says to another that usually makes them blush.  Sometimes, they don’t come out so easily, even if the person is thinking it.  But from my recent experience of spending time with 8th graders, if they think you’re a “hottie,” they tell you.  Yikes.  Or…sweet.  If you think your dude is looking handsome, don’t just pat down your butterflies and gush about it with your friends later.  He’ll likely appreciate the compliment if you tell him and be happy that he spent that extra time getting ready.

There have been a lot of PDA-bans in middle schools lately that even prohibit friends from giving each other hugs in the hallway.  Seems kind of extreme, but does go to show that when at that age, “couples” aren’t afraid to show who they are with.  They wear their heart on their sleeve…or rather, their trapper-keeper.  Their big thing is holding hands.  It’s cute, it’s sweet, and it is more seen in younger daters.  Why is that?  It’s a nice little gesture of affection in adults too that can go a long way.

I went to the movies with a friend a little while ago, and he and I were bombarded by middle and high school kids—either being dropped off or picked up by their parents.  It was crazy how many of them there were, but as I recall from being that age, that was the thing to do, and a lot of times, boys and girls would go in groups.  They never spent much time making tedious plans, they just went with what they thought would be fun, and usually it was.  Whether it was movies, or to dinner, or the big one—hanging out at the mall—a small group of couples would go out together and it would give everyone a chance to sort of mingle.  I think adults still do that, but it’s usually a dinner with 2 or 3 couples and a little more formal.  Or maybe getting together with some “buddies” at the bar.  Why not try different things?  Some mini-golf opponents?  (Okay, I like mini-golf).  Just try and get out of the routine a little.

The key thing here is to stop thinking like an adult.  Just less thinking in general and go with your instincts.  If you want to say something, say it.  Find the fun and spontaneity that makes dating exciting and fresh.  And if you’re ever in a bind, just think to yourself, “What would I have done in 8th grade?”  Umm…and then tone it down a little.


Dating Triumphs and Tragedies is published every Sunday by Online Dating Magazine columnist Nicole Roberge. She can be reached at

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