However, it is good idea for boys and girls to have ample opportunities to get to know each other socially, if they want to. There is a lot of room fro friendships between boys and girls in their early teens (but little reason for concern if such friendship doesn't develop.) There is much pleasure to be had from informal parties, dances, picnics and other group get-togethers, with enough activities planned in advance, and with parents helping, and also from hiking, bicycle and camping trips. It is a rare thirteen-or fourteen-year-old who is ready to go steady.
A boy and girl who do so at this age may have a pretty dreary and limited life after the first excitement of it. The teens is a good period of life for getting to know many people of both sexes and to know them in many different ways. In typical classes of twelve to fourteen-years-olds there are usually a few boys and girls who get all steamed up about parties and dances, about cliques, about who is most popular, and who likes whom. They - especially girls - seem to be afraid that if they don't start being popular right away and don't become big wheels socially as soon as possible, or in with the most-In group, they may never have a chance.
There is no question that their fears are real, but they are not based on fact. I've known many, many boys and girls who were miserable because they weren't making it socially in their early teens who, a little later, or in college became popular and enhoyed real social success. Perhaps the true measure of success is not the number of friendships one has but the quality of those friendships. Many young teenagers can even benefit from learning what it is like to be hurt by not enjoying immediate popularity by having to work to achieve social success.
Such experience can teach boys and girls to understand the feelings of others, to be considerate of them, and to do their best to pleae them. In this way they learn that a lasting relationship between people has to be built on more than physical attractiveness and a good line of conversation. The most important parts of the relationship are common interests and mutual consideration.