Growing up is hard. After finishing elementary school, life as an adolescent can seem like a constant uphill battle. Hurdles such as wildly changing hormones, as well as teachers and parents who just don’t seem to ‘get it,’ can all seem insurmountable at times. However, adolescents’ biggest hurdle to clear seems to be learning to navigate the concept of falling in love.
A New Emotion
The concept of love is first introduced to most of us when we begin our journey through high school. In middle school, some may experience a first kiss, an awkward first slow dance, or maybe even a forbidden game of spin the bottle. This can all be seen as preparation for high school. According to Dr. Furman, a professor of human psychology at the University of Denver, middle school children are not so different from their high school peers. “You kiss and then go to the movies–and become more interested in the close companionship sought by older teenagers” (Young Love: The good, the bad, and the educational).
It all starts as a small crush, and parents deem it harmless despite its name. The term ‘crush’ has become common among children as young as third or fourth grade. However, according to Dr. Furman, crushes aren’t really acted upon until middle school. “Among the so-called ‘tweens’ of middle school,” Dr. Furman states, “the point of a crush ‘is mostly to be able to say you have a boy- or girlfriend,’ and to start to know the opposite sex.” This process readies ‘tweens’ for high school, when their emotions start to get more intense.
Children this young probably don’t really know what it is like to be in love, nor do they really have the desire to be in a relationship. Promiscuity portrayed on television prompts adolescents to think about relationships prematurely. They figure, ‘since everyone else is trying this, so should we.’
When Cupid Strikes
As teenagers grow, so do their hormones, and crushes become more and more intense. Something as simple as the object of an adolescent’s affection sending a wave or a smirk in their direction can send them into an orbit of bliss. When two individuals decide to actually interact with one another, this experience can send tingles down their backs. Questions like, ‘how did I ever live without this person?’ and ‘could they be any more perfect?’ hit the brain and send waves of happiness through the body, becoming like a big bubble that seems to cover everything else. Many forget to think about other aspects of their relationships, such as ‘do we have anything in common?’ and ‘why exactly do I love this person?’ The mere concept of being in love is what people pay attention to.
The Timeline of Love
Why is it that in today’s society, people seem to fall in love so quickly and frequently? It seems as though the new normal is to be in a relationship. “Since when did being single become some sort of disease everyone wants to get rid of?” says Carol Morgan, Author of “If You Don’t Like Being Single, You Need To Read This.”
Both Millennials and Generation Z have spent their lives growing up watching commercials for websites such as Match.com and eHarmony, wherein a couple looks at each other with a blissful smile, and single people seem to get the short end of the stick.
So, when high school comes along, young people expect to find love. “… Boys and girls date in groups… the crush, then the date, the kiss and then the relationship,” states Dr. Furman. What is wrong with having periods of being single in-between these groups? Just because someone has a crush on you does not necessarily mean that you have to reciprocate their feelings.
It is widely thought of as ideal if people start having crushes in middle school, then date in the first half of high school, and subsequently find true love by the end of high school or by the time college happens. People think that if they follow this timeline, and have a serious companion by their mid-twenties, then they will feel normal, rather than feeling odd if they are still single in their forties or fifties.
People put their emotions in a timeline, and if someone deviates from the said timeline, he or she may fear that this will forever damage their love lives. Though in reality, love has no predictability, and that is part of the reason why it is so addicting.
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