Although romantic relationships are an integral part of adolescence, approximately 10 percent of male and female high school seniors report having never dated. Adolescents who do not begin dating at a time similar to their friends may be dropped from peer groups, and adolescent females who do not date demonstrate delayed social development, increased dependence on their parents, and feelings of insecurity.
Similar issues exist for gay and lesbian teens. While it is common for the preadolescent teen to be attracted to or develop a crush on someone of the same sex, research indicates that sexual orientation typically emerges by eighteen years of age and that homosexual youth report feeling different at an early age. With far fewer opportunities for dating and minimal support for developing same-sex romantic relationships, teens in this group may be deprived of the opportunity to date those to whom they feel most attracted. This social disapproval may interfere with the development of intimacy, and lack of participation in satisfying relationships may lead to feelings of inadequacy, which could in turn impair development of friendships as well as other relationships later in adulthood. Parents of homosexual teens need to let their children know their love is unconditional as they demonstrate their support and acceptance.