When our 16-year-old son, Eric, and his friends go out on a Saturday night, they’re often a mixed group of “guys” — their universal term for both boys and girls. No one in the group claims to be a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” (terms my wife Julie and I use), they’re “just friends” (Eric’s term).
When Julie and I were teens 30 years ago, you asked a girl to “go out” and you were officially dating, boyfriend/girlfriend, exchanging class rings, holding hands and kissing at your lockers.
Today, Eric and his friends tell us, they just “hang out” at friends’ houses, at McDonald’s, etc. The main group remains the same, and a few others come and go.
I kind of like that idea, even if there is no guarantee that these “friends” are as platonic as we would like them to be. We weren’t born yesterday.
But I have to admit there’s less drama than there was back in our day. They don’t seem to fret about maintaining a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.
Eric announced one day last month that he and a long-time female friend were escorting each other to the Free State High School winter formal. The two apparently had a standing deal that if neither had a date to the dance, they would go together. This was a week before the dance, and Julie naturally had a lot of questions: What is she going to wear? Where will you pick her up? Where are you going to go to dinner?
He answered each question with an “Idonno” and a roll of the eyes. All he knew was he needed a new suit and had to buy his date a flower.
The big night arrived, and Eric’s group gathered at a girl’s house for pictures. Julie was right there with the camera. All the moms were just as confused as Julie was about how this group dating thing worked. Off the group went to dinner, boys in one car, girls in another.
This teen dating thing remains an enigma.