Teenagers learn to navigate romantic relationships

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Megan Dinkins

Teenagers learn to navigate romantic relationships

By: Megan Dinkins

 

Blythewood High School junior Ryan Frans describes falling in love as “having a good vibe with someone. I feel like I can talk to them for hours and that we work to not cause too much trouble for each other.” As we move from adolescence to teenagers, romantic love begins to emerge in our lives. 

 

As infants, there is a need for love and affection from our parents. According to Dr. Beverly Palmer on health.howstuffworks.com, “We are born as helpless infants, dependent on our parents to fulfill our needs. Love, then, becomes needed fulfillment and we seek this same love out as adults.” This essentially means that we become hooked on the idea of being loved from the second we are born.

 

Just like our parents protected us back then, we long for that now. Ellie Thomas says, “I want to be in a relationship so I can make new memories with the boy I’m in love with.”

 

So what is the science behind that? When one is in the presence of someone they love, more serotonin is released into the brain, which gives off a sense of well-being and stability. This increased amount of serotonin creates more endorphins which creates dopamine that is like a natural painkiller. We become addicted to the happiness and warmth we feel around a certain person leading to wanting more, AKA falling in love. Blythewood student Kenneth Peeples states that he wants to be in a relationship so he can “always have someone to lean on and look for” whenever he’s feeling down.

 

The feelings you experience when you’re in love come from the prefrontal cortex in the brain. In teens, it is not yet fully developed. Because of this, teens are not thinking rationally but instead make decisions based on their emotions rather than their brains, which can lead to traumatic situations.

 

Lifespan developmental theorist Erik Erikson believes that falling in love helps teens self-understanding and promotes identity formation. Healthy teen relationships can boost self-esteem and self-identity. Teen dating can help mature teens and teach them how to handle certain situations logically instead of emotionally. Meg Tores says, “Teen dating has taught me to trust my brain over my heart because it is usually right.”

 

Because of the negative effects, some teens choose not to date. Blythewood sophomore Martin Bodourov says that he does not want to be in a relationship because of the stress that high school already puts on him. “I have soccer and classes to worry about. I don’t have time to worry about another person’s feelings,” he says.