Teen Dating: How to Make Sense of Love in the Digital Age

“MOOOOM…Geez, that’s NOT how it’s done!”

This phrase runs on repeat at my house, and in many cases, it is in response to my complete lack of understanding of the rules to modern teen dating.

[insert grandma’s voice here]  “In my day…we passed notes in class, pushed buttons on a phone, and got picked up at our own front doors.  Nowadays, there are very specific cyber-stages of courtship, and apparently, one cannot deviate from them, or else you have to start over.

Step 1: The DM. The first move is to find the potential interest’s Instagram account – or, even better, their “Finsta” account (fake Instagram). This can be done via a quick investigation of mutual friends’ pages. You or your intended then sends a message, usually “Hey” or “HMU Fam” (please contact me).

Step 2:  After the DM, the two parties “follow” each other on Instagram. This leads to a few days of “liking” each others’ photos.

Step 3:  Once you have established you have chemistry, the future couple adds each other on SnapChat. This leads to a “streak,” where selfies are sent to each other, every day, without fail.

Step 4:  If the SnapChat streak doesn’t break, it’s time to exchange iPhone numbers. Now the texting begins, usually when young people should be asleep.

Step 5:  Let’s assume they are now vibing. It’s time to take this to the next level – Facetime. Again, also in the wee hours of the night …

Step 6: At this point, the mother starts asking questions. Are you a couple? Are you going to go on an actual date? The response she gets is, “We’re just talking.”

Step 7: The couple now has a choice to make: do they plan to meet up IRL (in real life), or has the love run dry? If they  decide to be in each others’ presence, they must consult with their friends about what “the move” is, and find an acceptable party or “kick back.” If they call it quits, the relationship literally has been conducted entirely electronically.

Step 8-100:  Your guess is as good as mine…

The rules of dating in this century are so foreign to me. I am worthless with selfies and streaks. But although I am old-fashioned, some things are timeless, like respect, manners, and the confidence to make smart, positive choices – both on and off the phone! 


  1. We have learned that Step 8 is “making it official.” I asked my daughter what was going on with them, and she said “We have made it official.” I said, “Does this means he has asked you to go with him?” She said “Go where?” So it means they now call each other “boyfriend, girlfriend,” and actually go on dates.

Comments are closed.