Too many people feel that it is better to be in an unhappy relationship than to be alone. We as a society put to much emphasis on the joy a romantic relationship can bring and not enough emphasis on being happy with one's self.
What people so often forget is that dating is a means to an end, marriage.
Dating is not a substitute for true friendships. Relying on one person for all of your emotional and sexual needs is setting yourself up for failure. To hear some people tell the story, dating and romantic relationships are supposed to prepare a person for marriage - and yet people often begin dating at around twelve and marry in their late twenties. This leaves far too much time to date and not take the process seriously.
There is a fundamental problem here.
Relationships in the early teens to the early are treated as disposable, in fact parents tend to demand that teen relationships should be treated as disposable relationships. One is expected to spend large quantities of time and invest many emotions into a relationship that is never meant to last. This teaches people that when things get too difficult, just throw it all away and walk out on the problems that may exist in the relationship. If it is to hard to stay in a relationship during the difficulties of high school life, then what will happen during adult relationships, when the rent is late and one party loses a job?
Being in a series of one- to three-year relationships does not prepare a person for real commitment.
Another flaw of the current dating system is the idea of co-habitation. This is supposed to allow people to "test drive" their future marriage partner. The problem here is that one person's idea of the commitment level might differ vastly from the other's.
Many couples in college decide to live together as a way to save money and to get sex on a regular basis. This is a horrible idea. One person might believe that they will marry and live happily together after graduation while the other sees it as merely convenient in the moment.
The less committed person is often forced into incredibly difficult situations. For instance, the less committed party falls in love with some one else. If he was not living with the other person, he could simply break off the relationship and pursue the other prospect, but since he co-habitats he cannot easily leave. He is therefore more inclined to continue to live with a person who he will begin to dislike progressively more.
The live-in girlfriend will become confused about why her once somewhat loving boyfriend has become increasingly distant and the new love interest might be tempted to forget about the boy purely because it appears he cannot or will not leave his current relationship. No one is the better because of this situation, and it leaves everyone confused and heartbroken.
If the boy had simply been encouraged to not live with another person until he was certain of his intentions then the whole situation could have been avoided.
Recently, many people have come up with reasons as to why the divorce rate is as high as it is. The explanation has nothing to do with religious beliefs or anything else. It is simple. People are trained from the time they are preteens and for 15 years after that to treat their romantic partners as disposable sources of emotional support and pleasure.
If marriage is to be taken seriously, then dating, the path to marriage, must be treated with equal respect. If, as parents, you seek to raise emotionally-stable children and emotionally-mature adults, then you should encourage your children to take those teen romances seriously. Teach your children that the childhood romance should be treated with the utmost respect, just as you would expect a marriage to be treated with the utmost respect.