TEENAGERS AND LOVE

Love teaches us self-respect as well as respect for others. Love is one of the most fulfilling things we can have in our lives.Loving and being loved integrates richness to our lives.Love helps us feel important, understood, and secure.But each kind of love has its own distinctive feel. The kind of love we feel for a parent is different from our love for a baby brother or best friend. And the kind of love we feel in romantic relationships is its own unique type of love.Our ability to feel romantic love develops during adolescence.

In our teens, relationships are mostly about having fun. Dating can seem like a great way to have someone to go places with and do things with. Dating can also be a way to fit in. If our friends are all dating someone, we might put pressure on ourselves to find a boyfriend or girlfriend too.

In our late teens, though, relationships are less about going out to have fun and fitting in. Closeness, sharing, and confiding become more important to both guys and girls. By the time they reach their twenties, most girls and guys value support, closeness, and communication, as well as passion. This is the time when people start thinking about finding someone they can commit to in the long run — a love that will last.

Teens all over the world notice passionate feelings of attraction. Even in cultures where people are not allowed to act on or express these feelings, they’re still there. It’s a natural part of growing up to develop romantic feelings and sexual attractions to others. These new feelings can be exciting or even confusing at first. Attraction is the “chemistry” part of love. It’s all about the physical — even sexual — interest that two people have in each other. Attraction is responsible for the desire we feel to kiss and hold the object of our affection. Attraction is also what’s behind the flushed, nervous-but-excited way we feel when that person is near. Closeness is the bond that develops when we share thoughts and feelings that we don’t share with anyone else. When you have this feeling of closeness with your boyfriend or girlfriend, you feel supported, cared for, understood, and accepted for who you are. Trust is a big part of this. Commitment is the promise or decision to stick by the other person through the ups and downs of the relationship.

Teenagers are highly emotional creatures to begin with but when hormones swirl it can be confusing to really understand what they are feeling.

We can help our teens give appropriate names to their emotions by teaching them the difference between love, lust, and infatuation. Falling in love is an emotional upheaval at any age, but for adolescents the feelings are likely to be even more difficult to manage.

Teenage bodies and brains are maturing at a rate not experienced since infancy.The adolescent brain matures more quickly than others, leading to potential mismatches between physical, emotional development.

Hormonal changes, triggered by brain and body developments, are strongly implicated in the intense feelings of sexual attraction and falling in love.

Testosterone and oestrogen – male and female sex hormones – are associated with heightened sexual urges, while the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin are implicated in attachment and bonding. During puberty, the volume of these circulating sex hormones in the body rises dramatically. In girls, the ovaries increase their production of oestrogen sixfold and in boys, the testes produce 20 times the amount of testosterone.

Both sexes have male and female hormones circulating in the bloodstream, but during adolescence a boy’s testosterone level becomes 20 to 60 per cent higher than that of a girl, while her oestrogen level becomes 20 to 30 per cent higher than his. These hormones have strong effects on mood and libido.

Young people are hormonally primed toward being sexually attracted to others but, especially in early adolescence, they are not used to the feelings associated with the rapid increases and fluctuations in their hormone levels. High concentrations of certain hormones for one’s age, or rapid fluctuations of hormone levels may trigger more negative moods and greater mood variability Emotions associated with being ‘in love’ or ‘in lust’ are likely to be confused and confusing, even overwhelming for some.

Falling in love takes some getting used to, all those different emotions, mood swings, needs and desires. Nevertheless, through their romantic relationships, adolescents have the potential for psychological growth as they learn about themselves and other people, gain experience in how to manage these feelings and develop the skills of intimacy. They also face new risks and challenges.

On the downside, romantic relationships can sometimes lead to unhealthy outcomes. Young people can become too exclusive when they pair up, cutting themselves off from friendship and support networks in ways that do not advance optimal development.

Adolescents can be exposed to abusive and violent interactions or unwanted or coerced sexual activity within their romantic relationships.These days, aggression and bullying also occur online,partners share private photos or information on social media, causing embarrassment, humiliation or worse to the victim. 

When a relationship ends, people really need support. Losing a first love isn’t something we’ve been emotionally prepared to cope with. It can help to have close friends and family members to lean on. Unfortunately, lots of people often adults expect younger people to bounce back and just get over it.

If your heart is broken, find someone you can talk to who really understands the pain you’re going through.Break-ups are a very common feature of adolescent romantic relationships, some of which last only a few weeks. The impact of splitting up may not be particularly severe or long-lasting, especially in the case of short-term liaisons. Nevertheless, some teenagers are more vulnerable than others and their impact can vary from person to person.

Losing love can be painful for anyone. But if it’s your first real love and the relationship ends before you want it to, feelings of loss can seem overwhelming. Like the feelings of passion early in the relationship, the newness and rawness of grief and loss can be intense and devastating.

Young people move on when their relationships are not fulfilling.Over time, and through talking with others, including parents, peers and partners, adolescents can develop cognitive frameworks for better understanding the nature of intimate relationships and learn to cope with their ups and downs.

Love is delicate. It needs to be cared for and nurtured if it is to last through time. Just like friendships, relationships can fail if they are not given enough time and attention. This is one reason why some couples might not last — perhaps someone is so busy with school, extracurriculars, and work that he or she has less time for a relationship. Or maybe a relationship ends when people graduate and go to separate colleges or take different career paths. For some teens, a couple may grow apart because the things that are important to them change as they mature. Or maybe each person wants different things out of the relationship. Sometimes both people realize the relationship has reached its end; sometimes one person feels this way when the other does not.

With age and maturity come more realistic expectations and, hopefully, stronger capacities to make discerning partner choices, communicate and negotiate with partners and recover from relationship set backs and break ups.

Early sex education, mechanics of sex and teaching mutual respect, decision-making and the meaning of consent helps young people to resist relationship bullying and sexual coercion.

In today’s world, cyber safety is a key issue for all of us, but especially young people. Parental monitoring of online activity, especially among children and younger teenagers, may be advisable, and this requires that parents too become educated in new media. While adolescents need their privacy, it is important for parents to be watchful for warning signs of obsessive and secretive internet use. The emotions of falling in love can lead teenagers into unwise activity. The problem with the internet is that sexts and social media posts can come back to haunt them well after a relationship is over.

Watchful, kindly and respectful parenting, strong friendship networks and relationship-oriented sex education can all play their part in helping adolescents enjoy their romantic adventures and learn from them.