High School Dating Statistics

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12 High School Dating Statistics & Studies (2024)

Jamie Ballard

Written by: Jamie Ballard

Jamie Ballard

Jamie Ballard (she/her) is a professional writer and editor who covers news, lifestyle, and entertainment topics. She regularly contributes to Cosmopolitan, Allure, Woman’s Day, Good Housekeeping, PEOPLE, and The Hollywood Reporter, among other publications.

Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

Reviewed by: Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks is a dating and relationship expert who has penned over 1,800 lifestyle articles in the last decade, and she still never tires of interviewing dating professionals and featuring actionable advice for singles. She has been quoted by the Washington Times, Cosmopolitan, The New York Post, and AskMen.

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A person’s first love is something special. TV shows and movies often promote the idea that most people’s first experiences with love and dating come when they’re teenagers in high school. But according to data on the topic, most teens today don’t have any experience with romantic relationships, let alone sexual activity. What’s more, most high school relationships don’t last more than a matter of months, and even fewer result in a lifelong marriage. 

As a high schooler, it’s easy to feel as though everyone else has a boyfriend or girlfriend. In fact being perpetually single may lead you to feeling as though there’s something wrong with you. But high school dating statistics suggest that’s absolutely not the case! In fact, most high schoolers have zero relationship experience. Sex is also on the decline among teenagers, so trust us, you’re not alone. 

Researchers have different theories on why sex and dating is declining among today’s teenagers, but we think it’s actually a good thing. Teens have more time to learn about themselves, take the first steps in their careers, and figure out what they want from life outside of romantic relationships. Unlike your grandparents, no one expects you to get married before your 20s, and that’s a good thing. Here are some stats on what it’s like to date as a teenager today.

1. Only 35% of Teens Under 17 Have Dated Anyone

A 2015 Pew Research survey found that just over one-third (35%) of 13-to-17-year-olds had ever dated anyone. Of this group, 14% said they were currently in a serious romantic relationship and 5% said they were in a relationship, but not a serious one.

Photo of young people
Young people today seem to be taking their time when it comes to dating.

Another 16% of teenagers surveyed said they weren’t currently dating anyone but had some previous relationship experiences. 

The largest share of teenagers 17 and younger (64%) said they had never been in a romantic relationship.

2. Two-Thirds of Actively Dating Teens Haven’t Had Sex

The same survey from Pew also revealed that 66% of teens with relationship experience say they had not had sex. Just 30% of teen daters between 13 and 17 had ever had sex. 

Teens between 15 and 17 years old were more likely to be sexually active than those who are 13 or 14. Among 15-to-17-year-olds with relationship experience, 36% said they were sexually active; among 13-to-14-year-old daters, just 12% reported having sex at some point. 

3. High School Relationships Last Between 8 to 20 Months

The average high school relationship lasts for a matter of months, but there are some that span nearly two years — practically an eternity in high school. Research published in 2009 found that the median relationship duration for high schoolers was 14 months

According to the researchers, “the average duration among 12-to-13-year-olds is five months, among 14-to-15-year-olds it is eight months, and among those 16-to-18-years-old it is 20 months.”

4. About 1 in 12 Teens Experience Dating Violence

A 2019 survey from the Centers for Disease Control reported that about 1 in 12 teens experience physical violence during dating. The same percentage experience sexual violence while dating. 

The CPEDV logo
Domestic violence survivors can find supportive resources online and in their communities.

These statistics were collected as part of the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The research also found that female students who were actively dating were more likely than male students to experience physical and sexual violence. Additionally, students who self-identified as part of the LGBTQ+ community or were unsure of their gender identity were more likely to experience physical and sexual dating violence. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing dating violence, confidential resources are available. The California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, Crisis Clinic, Apna Ghar and the The National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence are a few resources we’ve highlighted on DatingAdvice. You can also turn to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which is available via phone, text or chat.

If you’re a teen experiencing dating violence, you may also want to turn to a trusted adult in your life like a parent, relative, or guidance counselor to help you safely figure out the next steps. You don’t have to do it alone.

5. High School Girls Who Date Are About 3 Times More Likely to Report Sexual Violence

Women are more likely to be the victims of dating violence, and unfortunately, this is true among high schoolers as well. 

Young women are more likely to report surviving of sexual dating violence. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Justice that used CDC data, around 13% of female high school students who were actively dating reported being the victims of sexual violence. Far fewer (4%) male high school students who were dating reported being victims of sexual violence. 

6. High School Dating & Sexual Activity Is on the Decline

A research report published in the journal “Child Development” found that dating and sexual activity among high schoolers has been declining for decades. Researchers Jean Twenge of San Diego State University and Heejung Park of Bryn Mawr College compared historical data surveying high schoolers between 1976 and 2016 at five-year intervals. Here’s a breakdown of the numbers reported:

  • 1990-1994 — 84% of 12th graders had gone on a date
  • 1995-1999 — 81% of 12th graders had gone on a date
  • 2000-2004 — 76% of 12th graders had gone on a date
  • 2005-2009 — 71% of 12th graders had gone on a date
  • 2010-2016 — 63% of 12th graders had gone on a date

Between the early 1990s (1990 to 1994) and the early 2010s (2010 to 2015), the percentage of high schoolers who said they had ever had sex also declined among 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th graders. The largest change was in the percentage of 9th graders who said they had ever had sex. In the 1990-1994 time period, 38% reported ever having sex. By 2010-2015, just 29% of 9th graders said they had ever had sex. 

7. Fewer Than 2% of High School Sweethearts Get Married

When you fall in love for the first time, it’s impossible to imagine that it’ll end someday. But the sobering fact is that fewer than 2% of people marry their high school sweetheart, according to a poll conducted by PerfectMatch.com. Among people who as teenagers marry  their high school sweetheart, only about half (54%) have a marriage that makes it to the 10-year mark. 

8. Seven in 10 High Schoolers Expect To Get Married One Day 

While it may be inadvisable for high schoolers to rush down the aisle while they’re teens, most high schoolers do see marriage in their future. 

A study from Bowling Green State University finds that in 2020, seven in 10 high school seniors (71%) reported that they expect to marry in the future. This number has decreased since 2006, when 81% of high school seniors said they expected to get married someday. 

High school dating statistic
High school girls are more likely than boys to say they want to get married.

In 2020, nearly a quarter (23%) of high school seniors said they had “no idea” whether they would ever get married, while just 5% said they expected they would never get married. Boys (69%) were less likely than girls (76%) to say they expected to get married in the future. 

Between 2006 and 2020, the proportion of female high school students who said they believe they will get married fell slightly, from 82% in 2006 to 76% in 2020. 

9. Only 33% of Teens Dated During the COVID-19 Pandemic 

There has been a lot of speculation about how the COVID-19 pandemic and necessary protective measures may have affected the social development of teens. But it seems that teens continued to date and engage in sexual activity in 2020 despite social distancing pandemic measures. 

According to a study published in BMC Public Health, 33% of 13- to-17-year-olds in the study said they were dating or in a relationship during the COVID-19 pandemic. About 23% said they had spent time in person with an intimate partner in the prior three months (which were the first three months of social distancing measures). 

Dating during covid
The dating scene changed in 2020 in accordance with social distancing mandates.

Among those who did not spend time with their partner in person during the first three months of social distancing measures, 44% said it was because their parents wouldn’t let them go out because of the coronavirus. Another 23% said it was because their date’s parents wouldn’t let them go out, while 12% said they themselves were worried about contracting COVID-19. Other reasons 13-to-17-year-olds said they didn’t see their partner in person during social distancing were a lack of transportation (19%), a breakup (10%) or not having time (12%). 

10. Online Dating Apps Have Helped 24% of Teen Daters Meet

It goes down in the DMs, as they say. According to data from Pew, 24% of teenagers with dating or relationship experience said they have dated or hooked up with someone they first met online. The study, which was conducted in 2015, found that  Facebook was one of the most common places for online romantic connections among 13-to 17-year-olds at the time. 

We think the teens of today would find this hilariously outdated now. Luckily, there are plenty of teen dating sites to explore if you’re looking to meet someone online.   

11. About Half of Teens Said They Flirt Through Social Media

The Pew study on teen dating behaviors found some interesting insights about how teens show romantic interest. The most common method is in-person flirting (55% of teens in the survey), but 50% say they’ve shown romantic interest in someone by friending them on Facebook or another social network. Slightly fewer (47%) have flirted by liking, commenting or otherwise interacting with them on social media or sharing something funny or interesting with them online (46%). About 3 in 10 (31%) teens have flirted by sending flirtatious messages to someone they like. 

Social media stats
Social media has opened new avenues for flirtation…and rejection.

However, the study also found that many teens have been made uncomfortable by online flirting. One-quarter of all teens said they’ve unfriended or blocked someone on social media because that person was flirting with them in a way that made them uncomfortable. Girls between the ages of 13 and 17 are about twice as likely as boys of the same age to say they’ve blocked or unfriended someone because of this, or 35% versus 16%, respectively. 

12. Just 6% of Women Are Married by Age 18

There’s no need to get married in high school. In fact, most people don’t. 

According to the CDC, the probability of a first marriage by age 18 is incredibly low for both men and women. The odds currently stand at 6% for women and 2% for men. The median age for a first marriage for women is 24.8 years; for men, it’s 27.3 years. 

Teenagers Needn’t Rush Into a High School Relationship

These statistics show that there’s no need for teenagers to rush into a relationship. While falling in love is a special part of the human experience, there are so many other things that teenagers can focus on. Spending time with friends and family, practicing a sport or hobby, studying, following your passions, planning for college, working — these are all things that will help you build the life you want. 

That said, dating as a young person can be an important part of learning about yourself. It can help you figure out what qualities you want in a partner and how you want your life to look. It can even help you discover qualities about yourself and how you interact with others. But it’s important to maintain a sense of independence and make decisions based on what’s best for you. For instance, you shouldn’t apply to a college you have no interest in simply because your high school boyfriend or girlfriend is going there. 

You may be hopeful about marrying a high school sweetheart, but the statistics show that’s pretty rare. Although your parents or grandparents may have fallen in love as high schoolers, the world is a different place now. It’s far rarer for modern teenagers to marry their high school sweetheart. You’ve got plenty of time to figure out who you are and what you want before the thought of marriage should even be on your mind.