This is part one in what I hope to be a monthly series called Tough Questions About Love. The plan is to poll several people on the Facebook Fan Page to discover their views on controversial topics regarding dating and relationships and share them with Associated Content. This month’s topic is The Age of Love: Exploring Teen Romance. I asked eleven questions to eleven women to see what they had to say. Here are the highlights.
Is there a minimum age you believe you’d have to be to fall in love?
Most of the people who answered were not sure if there is a minimum age. I believe Karen Sanders put it best when she stated, ” I’m not sure any age is really too young. You know how young teenagers fall in love with movie stars or singers? It’s not real love as we as adults would define it, but to them, it’s real. Love, I think, is about how each individual defines it.”
However, some answerers suggested that young teens (12-15 years old) are just too young to feel real love, citing emotionally maturity as the deciding factor. Here is a good quote from Anne F. on the subject:
“Moral of this story: age has some play in real love, but maturity and self love are the motivators in my honest opinion .One last factor that comes into play here would be how well you know yourself and what you want. I do not think a 15 year old or younger can be in real love because most of them do not know themselves; hell, they don’t even fully understand the way of the world yet. At 16, I think if we are a bit mature, then we have had a chance to know ourselves, so anything is far game at that point, for most folks. To be honest though, you cannot love another human being until you have learnt to love yourself.”
If you believe young teens can actually fall in love, do you think the problem is the inability to handle a long-lasting mature relationship because of lack of life experience? Why do most teenage relationships not last?
There were several reasons suggested for why teenage relationships tend not to last, but most seemed to revolve around the belief that these young relationships are mostly learning experiences and that teenagers haven’t yet figured out how to differentiate between love and lust. Here are two good comments on the topic:
Shauntae W. said “Because whether they want to admit it or not, teenagers don’t date to fall in love but to get experience in how to look for someone good for them and to improve in their choice every time they date a new person.”
Allie P. added “I think young teens don’t know enough about who they are as people to make a relationship last. There is simply too much going on in those relationships between drivers ed, and school, and college applications, and the changing teenage body to devote the time and energy that a mature relationship takes.”
The idea that many teens, especially boys, are looking for a physical fling also came up.
Juanne Tiffany writes “I think most teenage relationships do not last not because of lack of experience but lack of maturity. I think what each partner wants in the relationship is also a factor. Most young teen males want nothing more than a physical relationship or to be with the ‘hot girl’.”
How old were you when you first believed you’d fallen in love? How old was your partner? If you’re broken up, do you still consider that love or was it something else?
If you consider it love, why do you believe it didn’t work? If it DID work, would you care to share your story?
This was a two part question, so the answers went hand-in-hand.
As you can imagine, this answer varied with each different person’s experience. Ages ranged from 14-20+. Break up reasons listed included emotional immaturity to abuse from or the death of their partner. Most everyone agreed that what they felt was honestly love, however.
One early starting couple did make it, though. Juanne Tiffany shared her story:
“Our relationship works :) We met when I was 14 and he was 16 and were instantly attracted. I knew he was something special. We spoke and became friends, and a month later became ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’. I believe I’ve always been a little mature for my age. He was/is my first boyfriend, first kiss. At 16 he says he had all the experience he wanted in short term relationships and was ready to for something more. Based on both of our spiritual and family backgrounds, we are both level headed and have the same goals in life. We’ve been together for 9 years in October, and we will be together for the rest of our lives. Our relationship was paced slowly, and we have grown well together.”
Do you believe young girls are more prepared for long lasting pair bonding than young boys? Or do you believe the opposite? Why?
Most agreed that girls are more prepared than boys, but that may have something to do with the fact that only women answered my survey. I asked some men, but they didn’t want to respond. Many believed that girls mature faster than boys, and/or boys have to succumb to more peer pressure that urges them to continue playing the field and avoid settling.
Karen Sanders explains, “Girls definitely are more prepared. Partly because they are bred on Disney movies and are looking for their prince, but most obviously because girls mature faster than boys.”
Similarly, Tiffany Bailey writes“I do believe girls are ready for a commitment much earlier than boys. Girls have a nurturing instinct in them, and I think they ultimately are searching for the ‘one’ from teen years on.”
In addition, Amanda M. said, “I completely believe that young girls are more prepared, but it’s because I don’t feel there is as much pressure on the girls as there is on the boys. Boys have to hear from their friends, so they want to keep up with them.”
A few stated that it has more to do with each individual person and not a gender group. Dionne E. writes:
“I believe it doesn’t matter young girl or young boy; again, I would put it on maturity. I have seen both young girls and young boys screw each other over for the same reasons; (High School environment) they are equally bad or good. I believe we all hold our own bias on which gender is more likely to be long lasting over the other due to our own love/lust experiences.”
What characteristics must a person possess to have a mature relationship? How do you define emotional maturity?
I thought this was an important question because many people state that maturity is the deciding factor in whether a relationship will work or not, but maturity is left undefined. Several of the participants were also unsure of the answer, but some did share their beliefs about what emotional maturity meant to them.
Jessika A. defines emotional maturity as “being selfless and able to share what you have, and be willing to let someone in to love you and being able to love back emotionally and physically.”
Char S. believes that, “the first and, in my opinion, must-have characteristic must be a giving and fair minded attitude. Emotional maturity to me means being able to handle tough situations in a semi-rational behavior and accepting responsibility for your actions.”
Juanne Tiffany says emotional maturity is composed of “The ability to compromise! Compassion.
Understanding. PATIENCE. Loyalty. Respect…the list goes on and on!”
Why do so many young people feel so confident that their relationships will last forever when the odds are they won’t?
“They are oblivious to the outside world, especially in high school. They most likely date someone for attraction purposes and don’t really know the person before jumping into a ‘relationship'” – Tiffany Bailey
“Youthful optimism!” – Karen Sanders
“They are experiencing this NEW amazing feeling they have never known before! They don’t know it’s a feeling that can fade, and don’t hold the maturity needed to maintain a lasting relationship.” – Dionne E.
“Superhero syndrome: Nothing can hurt me. I know what’s best for me, and I can do what I want because I know exactly what I’m doing, and the person I love is exactly like me and likes the same things.” – Char S.
“Because they are ‘young’ and don’t know the many roads ahead of life. I wish so many times I could go back in time and slap younger Yvonne for thinking she knew everything and she was right.” – Yvonne E.
“When you’re young you think you’re invincible. You drink too much, drive too fast all because you think you’re invincible.” – Allie P.
If you believe teenagers can feel real love, should they wait to have sex? Why or why not?
In this question, I asked the participants to avoid strictly religious reasoning because, while I respect their beliefs, I was hoping for answers that could speak to all readers regardless of their religious system.
Most believed teens should wait to have sex:
“I think that teenagers should not have sex. I think that the older you are when you start having sex, the better off you are. The younger you are, the less likely you’ll use proper protection and less likely you can handle a pregnancy or an std properly.” – Allie P.
“I think that they should wait. This is because bad things can happen like pregnancy, and when you’re a teen you should enjoy life not grow up so fast. Not to mention the STD’s out there. If your guy or girl is just acting love and playing around this could also affect your future as in maybe not being able to have kids due to a problem. Or the worst, AIDS is out there. Waiting is best, in my opinion.” – Jessika A.
Shauntae W. believes it differs in each relationship: “Only about 2% of teenagers find real love and are able to hang on to it for a good amount of time. And I think it may be different for everyone. Some people may wait and still have no luck in staying together, while some may jump into it and last longer. Or vice versa. Depends on the situation.”
A few added that early sexual exploration is an important learning experience for teenagers:
“Let me start by saying my grandparents were 15 when they got married! I think teenagers shouldn’t be denied living their lives how they want to. If they choose to have sex, so be it (hopefully protection is being used). Sex has been going on in the teenage world since our great grandparents were teenagers, It’s human nature. Lust isn’t easy to control, they are learning who they are and they will only learn by experience.” – Dionne E.
“NO on the waiting. Of course that depends. I feel that the experience is needed (not whore-ish experience, but just enough). I’m not saying that waiting until you’re married is wrong. For some it’s right. However, I feel the experience helped me grow.” – Yvonne E.
If you were talking to a teenager who was wondering if their relationship will last, what would you say to him or her?
“I would say there’s really no way of telling if any relationship will last. You just have to put as much effort as you can into the relationship. Give and take. But make sure you don’t give too much or take too much. Come to a great balance.”- Amanda M.
“I would say, its 50/50 I would tell them to be open to the fact that they have their whole lives ahead of them, and their interests can change five years down road. One day you may want that rebel that’s mean but so darn cute to later realize you want that sweet guy that cries at those cheesy movies. Take it one day at a time.” – Yvonne E.
Ahhhhh can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this discussion LOL, but I’m sure you know. My answer to them is always are you willing to share yourself and your life with this person, are they willing to do the same for you? If so there are struggles and difference of opinions you’re going to encounter; are you ready to fight for what you feel and believe in and are you willing to allow your partner the same? IF you think you can do that then the relationship has a good chance of lasting.” – Char S.
Do these same rules apply to teenagers feeling a homosexual attraction at their age? Why or why not?
Again, I asked that religious reasons be avoided. Everyone who answered the question agreed that the rules are the same regardless of sexual orientation.
“Homosexual or heterosexual makes no difference. To me, same thing applies to teens in love.”- Tiffany Bailey
Can anyone be too old for love?
Again, all who answered were in agreement. I think Yvonne E. put it best:
“NO WAY! Missing teeth and all!!”
None of the participants believe you can outgrow love!
I hope you enjoyed the first article in the Tough Questions About Love series. If you’d like to participate in future surveys, feel free to click here and join the fan page.