Love is complex, far more complex than a Taylor Swift song or the latest vampire romance movie could ever portray it. Love is also intensely personal: each person experiences love uniquely. When it comes to teen love, some facts can help you figure out what to expect and help you learn a little about why you feel certain emotions when you are in love.
The Dating Due Date
Are you wondering what age your friends began searching for love? Researchers at Toronto's York University followed nearly 700 preteens and teens for seven years. The study divided students into three dating age categories. On average, "early starters" began dating between their 11th and 12th birthday. So-called on-time teens began dating just before their 13th birthday, while "late bloomers" began dating in their mid to late teens. In other words, there is no exact time when everyone starts being interested in love.
Heaping on the Hormones
Your brain doesn't fully mature until you're around 25 years old. That's why teenagers feel the emotions of love in very different ways than adults do. As a teenager in love, you experience a spike of the hormone dopamine in the same part of the brain that's connected to addiction. In fact, scientists studying the teen brain in love have noticed that love triggers reactions in the brain similar to that of cocaine.
Addiction in Action
With the brain's hormone levels on a drug-like high, it's no wonder that teen relationships feel so intense. Often, teenagers describe love as an all-consuming passion. You may want to spend every moment with the person you love, but this close attachment can create a great fear of detachment and a worry of losing each other.
Just like an actual flame, teen love can fizzle out as quickly as it burned. The BBC notes that some scientists peg the average length of a 15-year-old's love relationship at three to four months. Because your brain functions like it is addicted when you are in love, breaking up can feel as awful as drug withdrawal. Many teens feel depressed or even suicidal when going through the throes of a breakup. If you feel depressed or suicidal because of a relationship, talk to a trusted adult or your school's counseling office, or call the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
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