The Importance of Understanding Teen Romance
As adults, we tend to often make jokes about teen romance and its intensity. However, we shouldn’t forget that we also went through these dramatic experiences and can even remember what they felt like.
It’s easy to look back and see how exaggerated our teen experiences were. Nevertheless, we should take into account the particularities of the brain at this age. In fact, a teen’s brain is marked by the fact of having to face, for the first time, the miseries of adult life. For this reason, we should try and help any teens we know who are going through this difficult time.
Romantic love is all-encompassing at this stage of life. It’s also highly complex, but they can learn from their experience so it becomes less so.
Characteristics of teen romance
Love, even with its universal and positive nature, is a feeling that needs emotional management. Although it’s present in the lives of almost everyone, it begins within the family and among our peers. In adolescence, it occurs when romantic love becomes a reality and the different forms and roles that constitute it are discovered.
1. An intensity regulated by hormones
In adolescence, hormones begin to work that alter our behavior and subjective perceptions of the world. However, this doesn’t mean that what a teen feels isn’t real. In fact, at this stage, romance takes on an intensity that’s unlikely to be repeated at any other stage of their life. Therefore, it’s normal for their reactions and decisions to be more extreme.
2. The role of interoception
Interoception is the perception of the internal state of the organism. For example, feeling your heart beat faster. In adolescence, new interoceptive sensations are added, such as the classic butterflies in the stomach when the teen sees the object of their affection.
Teens have to learn how to deal with these new sensations. For example, although it may not seem important to us, blushing for the first time is something that’s disconcerting for them and requires introspection.
3. Confusing love with infatuation
Few people maintain a relationship with their first teen partner and manage to create a healthy and loving relationship. Having never experienced the latter (and thanks to the constant bombardment of myths about romantic love), it’s easy for them to call such an intense feeling of attraction, love.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since having several relationships in adolescence is good preparation for later healthy relationships.
4. The pain of a breakup
Grieving after a breakup is the worst part of teen romance. Just as falling in love clouds their senses, the feeling of emptiness can be as intense. In fact, the teen often feels like they’re drowning, as the person who provided their oxygen has gone.
Badly handled, this hurt can produce intense emotional pain that may even affect the teen’s health. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find that they lose their appetite, exhibit depressive symptoms, become irritable, etc.
How to help them manage their romance
Perhaps you want to help a teen who’s going through this difficult yet essential stage. On the one hand, you know that they’re having a turbulent time, but you also know that it’ll end and, is, hopefully, already getting better. However, how do you convey this to someone who thinks the pain of their breakup will last forever? Here are some ideas.
1. Validate their emotions
This is perhaps the most important point. What they’re feeling is real and valid and they must learn to manage it. Trying to minimize or downplay their pain would build a communication barrier between you and create feelings of rejection and loneliness in them.
The same goes for positive emotions. You’ll notice that the teen is absorbed by their feelings and that they spend hours chatting and looking at social media. Nevertheless, banning, teasing, or scolding them will only lead to their unruly opposition.
2. Help them protect their self-esteem
The teen’s self-esteem, at a time when they’re discovering their own identity, is fragile and complex and hard to keep afloat. Romance is one of the most destructive hammers to their self-esteem. However, they need to understand that a breakup doesn’t mean that they have no value as a person.
3. Remind them of the permanence of certain reference points
As we said earlier, teen romance is absorbing and many people eventually end up regretting certain decisions they made at this stage in their lives. For example, they may have abandoned their studies and hobbies or missed opportunities.
It’s for this reason that we, as adults, tend to put the brakes on the rollercoaster of emotion and take time to reflect on our decisions and their future implications.
Without a doubt, accompanying a teen during this difficult time isn’t easy, especially if you’re their parent and you have to do it from an asymmetrical position, unlike their friends. The last piece of advice that we can give is that you continue to employ affection, honesty, and unconditionality to what you have to offer them at this tricky time.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Nina Estrella, R. (2011). Significado del Amor en la Adolescencia Puertorriqueña Acta de Investigación Psicológica – Psychological Research Records, 1(3), 473-486
- Díaz-Loving, R., & Robles, M. S. (2009). Atracción, romance, sexo y protección en adolescentes. Enseñanza e investigación en psicología, 14(2), 215-228.
- Flores-Hernández, B. G., Guzmán-Pimentel, M., Martínez-Ruiz, L., Jiménez-Castro, M. P., Rojas-Solís, J. L., & Lloyd, P. N. P. (2021). Caracterización de las (nuevas) relaciones románticas de adolescentes. Avances en Psicología, 29(1), 47-58.