Psychology journal on teen dating

The singer of a plaintive hit song from the 1950s croons ‘Each night I ask the stars up above, Why must I be a teenager in love? In modern pop songs, young people still sing about their crushes, unrequited loves and romantic break-ups; about feeling awkward, unsure, in despair, overwhelmed, joyous and inspired, although these days the sexual imagery is much more obvious.

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Emotions associated with being ‘in love’ or ‘in lust’ are likely to be confused and confusing, even overwhelming for some (Temple-Smith et al., 2016). Fifth National Survey of Australian Secondary Students and Sexual Health 2013.

Nevertheless, through their romantic relationships, adolescents have the potential for psychological growth as they learn about themselves and other people, gain experience in how to manage these feelings and develop the skills of intimacy. These positive and negative aspects of adolescent romantic relationships are discussed below.

Psychosocial development Lifespan developmental theorist Erik Erikson (1968) viewed crushes and youthful romances as important contributors to adolescent self-understanding and identity formation.

Research has not yet caught up with the long-term implications of these new ways of courting, but it does seem that falling in love and romantic relationships are still part of the developmental timetable for many adolescents. The US-based National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), involving a representative sample of thousands of school children in Grades 7 to 12, found that over 80 per cent of those aged 14 years and older were or had been in a romantic relationship, including a small number (2–3 per cent) in same-sex relationships (Carver et al., 2003; Grieger et al., 2014).

Many of these relationships were short term, especially among younger adolescents, but a significant number were a year or more in duration.

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