Is Teen Love Real & Can It Last?
By: Stephanie Kirby
Updated January 26, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC
There is a lot of debate and stigma that surrounds teen love. Many adults brush teen relationships off, believing that they are unable to stand the test of time. However, this believe is not entirely valid. the average age of marriage has continued to rise from generations past, it doesn't prove that teen love is not real or that it cannot last. However, it isn't that simple either.
Some, not all, teen love is real. Determining whether this love will last depends solely on the individuals and if they are willing to develop the feeling of love into true love.
The Difference Between Love and Lust
The first relationships that teens usually experience are referred to as puppy love or a crush. This goes right along with lust. The attraction to the other person is purely physical. There is excitement and energy in the relationship. The feelings are surface level and do not go deeper than that. It is a relationship that is based purely on feelings.
Lust is a normal response that people experience, including teens—but it's not love. Many teens and adults confuse the two. Lust is based only on the physical attraction, where love is much deeper than that and involves caring about the other person. The relationship may begin because of lust, but real love moves past lust and physical attraction. It is not based on feelings, but on commitment and a decision.
It's All About the Mindset of the Teen
There are two different ways to look at dating. First, you may be dating because you want to find your life partner. When you have this mindset, you're careful about the people you choose to date because you're looking for someone specific. Second, you may be dating because you're just having a good time and want to hang out with someone. You aren't necessarily looking to commit, and you may date several people at once.
Your dating mindset will play a major role in determining if your love is real and if it can last. If you're merely looking for a good time, then you're likely to end the relationship when fights and challenges naturally arise. You may have feelings of love, but not true love. However, if you're looking for your future partner, then you may be able to turn feelings of infatuation into feelings of love.
True love requires a certain level of maturity. It's easy to be attracted to someone. It's also easy to date someone and truly like them. This may lead to feelings of love, but true love only comes when you're willing to stand the test of time, even when things get tough. When you're really in love, you can't be overly demanding or jealous, nor can you run out every time things get hard. With a little work and a lot of love, however, you can build a relationship that lasts for the long haul.
Can Teen Love Last?
The answer is simple and complex at the same time. Teen love can last—just ask all of the high school sweethearts that are still married decades later. While it’s true that any romantic relationship has its difficulties, teen love has some specific challenges that usually don't apply to adult relationships.
You Must Know Yourself
One of the biggest challenges in teen love is that most teens are still in the process of finding themselves. When you don't know who you are, it's hard to form a healthy relationship. If teens are in a serious relationship while they're going through this discovery process, they may eventually realize that who they are is not compatible with their significant other. Or, if they are unwilling to admit this, they might try to be someone they're not to please their partner. This will eventually lead to problems in the relationship.
For teen love to last, the teenagers need to have a high level of maturity at the beginning of the relationship, or they need to be willing to discover themselves together. That means they will support each other throughout this process. When both individuals are committed to growing within the relationship, they can discover their identities without needing to end the relationship. This journey will bring them closer together.
Adults are usually in a more stable place when they begin relationships. When teens start relationships while they're in school, they're going to face a trying time as graduation approaches. Teens that are in serious relationships will need to determine if they're going to end their relationship when they go off to college. They may also choose to forego college, attend college together, or make any number of joint or separate plans. Graduation is a time of major transition for every high school student. Adding a relationship to the mix can make it even more difficult. Many relationships end at this point because teenagers want to see what will happen in the next phase of life.
If It Doesn't Last
There are many different reasons why teen relationships don't last; in this way, they're just like any other relationship. Teen relationships may end because both people may realize they aren't interested in the same things, that they're heading out to college, or that they aren't willing to stick it out when things get tough. Whatever the reason, it doesn't mean that the relationship and the feelings weren't real.
Breakups are difficult, and passionate teens often have a harder time dealing with them than adults do. Teens ending a relationship may experience extreme emotions. If you are experiencing overwhelming grief, or other feelings after a breakup, talking to a professional therapist can help.
For Parents of Teenagers
Do not dismiss teen love. Your teenagers' feelings are just as real as yours. If you dismiss them, you could strengthen your child's desire for the relationship. They will feel that you don't understand them, and you will create a distance between the two of you.
As a parent, you want your child to feel free to talk to you about all areas of life, including love and relationships, so you can provide guidance as needed. When you tell them, it's "puppy love," that it's not real, or that it's not going to last, you risk losing your ability to give advice. Your teen will stop coming to you with questions or sharing information with you.
That said, if you notice signs of an unhealthy relationship, it's time to step in. It's normal for teens to want to spend all of their time with their boyfriend or girlfriend, but you should watch for extreme jealousy, isolation, bruises, changes in behavior, a large age gap, and frequent arguments. These are signs that the relationship may not be a healthy one. It's difficult for people of any age to recognize when they're in an unhealthy relationship. As the parent, it's your responsibility to help your child if they're in this situation.
Tips for Teens in Love
Relationships are difficult. If you're simply dating "for fun," then it probably isn't worth investing seriously in the relationship. However, if you are serious about the other person and would like to see the relationship last, there are a few things you should remember.
- Make sure the feelings are mutual before investing 100 percent. You may be serious about the relationship, but before you get too committed, make sure the other person feels the same way.
- Do not mistake sex for love. Love is more than physical attraction, and having sex is not a way to find love.
- Do not sacrifice all of your friendships for your relationship. When relationships are new, you tend to want to spend all of your time with the other person. Remember that it's important to have friends outside of your relationship as well. You should also continue spending time with family, and participating in activities that you enjoy.
- Discuss the future together. Do you both feel the same way? What will happen after graduation?
Understanding Teen Relationships With BetterHelp
When it comes to teen love, there are multiple ways that a therapist can support you. For starters, it's important to know yourself and love yourself if you want to have healthy relationships. If you struggle in these areas, a therapist can help you discover who you are, so you can accept and love that person.
Studies have shown that online therapy platforms can be useful for helping teens manage anxiety, depression, and other issues. According to one study, internet-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (ICBT) is an effective way toaddress symptoms of anxiety in adolescents. Therapist-guided ICBT is a widely utilized method of helping teens and adults deal with emotions related to love and other aspects of life. It works by helping reframe negative thoughts, so that those with mental health concerns can better manage their interactions and relationships. The study found that ICBT reduced participant anxiety, as well as depression, concluding that even those with severe symptoms can benefit from this form of counseling.
If you are in a long-term relationship that started when you were young, you'll likely experience a unique set of problems. A therapist can help you work through these issues, so you can make sure your love lasts. BetterHelp has devoted the platform TeenCounseling to help teenagers aged 13 to 18 years old. With online counseling, you don't need to worry about sitting in traffic or waiting in a room full of other people. You can get the help you need from the comfort and safety of your own home. You can read about how our BetterHelp and TeenCounseling therapists have helped people in similar situations.
"Mark has been extremely attentive to everything that I disclose. He's not only provided me support but insight and encouragement to let me know I'm on a good path to self improvement and discovery. Furthermore, Mark has provided me valuable insight on my romantic relationship, specifically with learning more about the relationship dynamics and how to build a stronger, healthier relationship."
"She guides me to utilize strategies which have helped me so much in dealing with stressful situations occurring in my life. She has helped me to see things more clearly so that I can choose the best path forward. Her advice on dealing with my relationship issues has truly been invaluable to me and I'm so grateful for her support."
Teen love is real. If you're a teenager in love, your relationship is important to you; and if you work on it, it stands just as good a chance of lasting as any adult relationship. Teen relationships may have unique challenges, but with commitment and communication, they can stand the test of time.
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