What does “going out” with someone mean to a teenager?

23 Apr 2007|Leigh Marinner

I’ve been puzzled when I talk with teenagers and they say they’re not going out with someone – although they spend hours at each other’s houses and on the phone, go to the prom together, and stop to see the other one on their way home from the airport when they come back from vacation. But they’re not “going out”.

It’s a fascinating example of the way technology influences how people see themselves and how they perceive the world. We’ve all heard about teens hooking up in casual relationships, but “not going out” has nothing to do with hooking up. It turns out that a teenager is “going out” when they indicate on their Facebook page that they are “in a relationship”, and not before. The baggage that goes along with going out is that you have to officially break up at some point, as opposed to just letting things take their course.

In 6th grade, kids are “going out” if the boy asks the girl if she will go out with him and she says yes. And that is the end of the story. Nothing else required.

Cultural anthropology in our own backyard.

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