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Part of growing up includes developing the ability to love romantically. Romantic love and attraction towards another person can come with feelings of excitement and confusion. How can you tell if this love is for real?

Love or lust?

Attraction – refers to the chemistry between two people, physical interest in each other (this alone is about infatuation or lust)

Closeness – bond developed between two people, making them feel comfortable sharing thoughts and feelings with no one else…deepened closeness develops trust, honesty, and respect. Developing this can result in an acceptance for who you are.

Commitment – agreement to support each other through life’s challenges

Closeness – Attraction = Friend Love

Attraction – Closeness = Infatuation

Attraction + Closeness = Romantic Love

Couples who have developed a romantic love can eventually form a lasting love if they are committed to each other… Romantic Love + Commitment = Lasting Love

Qualities of a good relationship include…

Sharing and Confiding – Revealing feelings and thoughts to one another is an important part of building a bond of closeness in a relationship. Ultimately you should feel comfortable sharing with your significant other and vice versa. The confidence you have in one another helps to build trust and respect.

Support – Support is an important part of commitment in a relationship. Providing support when your partner is confused, sad, or afraid can be difficult, especially when you have a differing opinion. Offering encouragement, showing you care, and just being there to listen takes true commitment to the other person’s well being and feelings.

A Balance of Giving and Receiving – It takes a lot of effort to maintain a healthy and happy relationship. This effort needs to be shared! The back and forth of giving and receiving support should be pretty equal between two people in a relationship.

Why do relationships end?

A good majority of relationships in your teen years may last a short amount of time. This is mostly due to the fact that you are physically, mentally and emotionally changing. As a teenager, you instinctively seek a lot of different experiences to help you discover who you are as a person. You accomplish these new experiences by connecting with other people through different types of relationships.

In addition, as you grow older and mature, qualities you look for in another person may change. As a younger teen, one of the most important qualities of a relationship may be the attraction. However, when you reach your 20’s you may give greater consideration to a person’s personality rather than his/her looks.

As you mature and grow as an individual, your priorities tend to grow as well. As you make decisions about college and a career path, you and your partner may have different ideas of goals you want to achieve. The goals that you set may lead you to different parts of the country or even to a different mindset on life! Your new goals take time and effort to achieve. This may make it harder to maintain your relationship as you are busy with extracurricular activities, studying, and even traveling. In addition, sometimes as you grow, your wants and needs may change. The relationship you formed as a young teen may not fulfill your needs and wants as a growing adult now. You may realize that the qualities you’ve found in your teen love may not be the qualities you look for in an adult relationship.

When relationships turn ugly

Did you know?

  • About 1 in 4 adolescents report verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse each year
  • 50-80% of teens report knowing someone involved in a violent relationship
  • 33% of teenage girls report experiencing physical violence by a dating partner
  • Date rape accounts for 70% of sexual assaults reported by adolescent and college age women

Abuse in a relationship can be physical, emotional, and/or sexual…and can be inflicted by a male OR female.

Physical abuse includes hitting, punching, kicking, pulling hair, inflicting physical pain.

Emotional abuse includes teasing, bullying, and humiliating the other person, threats, insults, intimidation, betrayal, lying.

Sexual abuse is when someone is forced to do something sexually that they haven’t agreed to.

Characteristics of an abusive relationship

  • Physically harms you in any way…including punching, slapping, pushing, grabbing, kicking
  • Your partner attempts to control your life as well as his or her own. How you dress, where you go, what you say, who you hang out with.
  • Often humiliates you or makes you feel guilty or bad about yourself
  • Threatens to harm you or leave you
  • Demands to know where you are at all times
  • Consistently becomes mad or jealous if you hang out with other friends
  • Experience unwanted sexual advances that make you feel uncomfortable…only concerned about getting what they want

How to help yourself…

  1. Recognize that your relationship is not healthy! And admit that you deserve to be respected.
  2. Make sure you are safe! If you have experienced an assault…alert someone you know that you trust and get the specific help you need. Learn more about rape here
  3. Avoid your feelings of wanting to isolate yourself. Go to your friends, family, teachers, doctor for support. A friend or family member can help you stand by your beliefs and make the best decision for you and your well being.