‘Does he like me?’

‘Should I ask her out?’

Dating in our teenage years can be a confusing and scary time. Especially with prom night being such an integral part of our young lives, the big question of "who are you going to go with" hung over our heads until it was over.

But if you never went on a date till adulthood or simply went to prom with friends, research by the University of Georgia has shown that you are no different than your schoolmates. Perhaps even better off.

The study has found that adolescents who were not in romantic relationships during middle and high school had good social skills and low depression and were better off or equal to peers who dated.

"The majority of teens have had some type of romantic experience by 15 to 17 years of age, or middle adolescence," said Brooke Douglas, a doctoral student in health promotion at UGA's College of Public Health and the study's lead author.

Less than 2% of marriages are to a high school sweetheart. Pixabay

"This high frequency has led some researchers to suggest that dating during teenage years is a normative behavior. That is, adolescents who have a romantic relationship are therefore considered 'on time' in their psychological development."

If dating was so normal and essential in the individual development of teenagers, Douglas began to wonder what it meant for teenagers that did not date.

"Does this mean that teens that don't date are maladjusted in some way? That they are social misfits? Few studies had examined the characteristics of youth who do not date during the teenage years, and we decided we wanted to learn more," she said.

From the data collected, non-dating students had similar or better interpersonal skills than their more frequently dating peers. While positive relationships with friends, at home, and school did not differ between dating and non-dating peers, teachers rated the non-dating students significantly higher for social skills and leadership skills than their dating peers.

Non-dating students also racked up significantly lower depression scores when rated by teachers.

"In summary, we found that non-dating students are doing well and are simply following a different and healthy developmental trajectory than their dating peers," said Pamela Orpinas, a professor of health promotion and behavior and co-author of the study.

"While the study refutes the notion of non-daters as social misfits, it also calls for health promotion interventions at schools and elsewhere to include non-dating as an option for normal, healthy development," said Douglas.

"As public health professionals, we can do a better job of affirming that adolescents do have the individual freedom to choose whether they want to date or not, and that either option is acceptable and healthy," she said.