A Glimpse into Teen Relationships

Romantic teen relationships are associated with feelings of being deeply “in love”, thinking about your boy/girl crush and fantasizing about the time you’ll be spending together.

Sometimes it involves sneaking out from under your parent’s eye to see the boy/girl of your dreams. According to Price, Hides, Cockshaw, Staneva and Stoyanov (2016) “Adolescent romance typically begins as brief relationships in early adolescence, progresses into sexual relationships in mid-adolescence (14–15 years) and onto more intense, committed relationships during later adolescence (16–18 years)”. Teenage romantic relationships are divided into four stages, namely;

• Infatuation Stage – the time of exploring romantic feelings towards another person, when one is physically attracted to another person (e.g. this is the time of having a crush on a boy/girl, but not yet telling them).

• Affiliate Romantic Stage – when a ‘couple’ relationship is not yet formed, but two people are attempting to enter into a relationship (e.g. telling someone you like them, but no decision has been made to start dating).

• Intimate Stage – representative of a formed romantic couple (e.g. the point of dating).

• Committed Stage – where a relationship resembles features of a marital relationship or an intimate mutual commitment (e.g. dating for years and developing characteristics such as spending almost every waking moment together (after school and weekends), buying expensive gifts (e.g. promise rings) and saying “I love you” frequently).

Adolescent relationships can have both good and bad outcomes. These relationships teach teenagers about how to communicate their emotions, understanding what someone else is going through, forming unique personal identities, and (for a few couples) about sex.

Due to experiencing many ups and downs during these relationships teens learn to solve difficult emotional dilemmas and to ‘get back up when life puts you down’ (ACT for Youth Center of Excellence, 2017).

However, adolescent relationships almost unavoidably leads to breaking up, which may result in feelings self-doubt, despair and mistrust. Relationships with a lack of trust, constant arguments, and violence may lead to depression and anxiety.

A study indicated that adolescents were most likely to experience mental health issues, self-harm and suicide ideation when a break up occurred or when dealing with an ex-partner.

Healthy adolescent romantic relationships should have open communication, high levels of trust, partners who are relatively close in age, who motivate and encourage each other and who have similar interests and goals.

* Compiled by Samantha Feris

May 2017
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