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Dating & Conflict in Teen Relationships

Instructor: Emily Cummins
In this lesson, we'll talk about romantic relationships during the teen years. We'll talk about the kinds of conflict that can happen in teen relationships and some of the consequences that arise from this.

Teen Relationships

Remember your first crush? The first time you held someone's hand? Butterflies in your stomach? Chances are, this probably happened when you were a teenager. Young love! You might always remember your first boyfriend or girlfriend but whether you remember this as a positive experience or not can vary greatly.

Teen relationships, are very important to the development of identity and self-concept in the teenage years. They influence the development of what psychologists call self-concept. This is basically our set of beliefs about ourselves.

Relationships are also important to adolescent development. In this lesson, we'll talk about how teens experience conflict in their romantic relationships.

Romantic Relationships

Jason recently starting dating Rebecca, and the two now spend a lot of time together. Romantic relationships are an important part of adolescent development, and they can be very influential in the development of a teen's identity, maybe even more so than friends. Rebecca provides an important source of emotional support, and Jason feels comfortable talking to her about things he doesn't want to talk to his parents or friends about.

Teenage romantic relationships can have a major impact on self-esteem. Psychologists have found that relationships can have an impact on what they refer to as global self-esteem. Global self-esteem is our overall feelings about ourselves.

When teens are in healthy romantic relationships, free of conflict, it can have a positive effect on self-esteem and self-discovery and can help teens develop overall positive feelings about themselves.

Conflict in Teen Relationships

While healthy teenage relationships can have a positive impact on self esteem and help teens develop interpersonal skills, they can also create problems in teens' lives. Some researchers have found that romantic involvement in the teenage years reduced academic performance. Teens in relationships might become distracted, focusing less on school work than their peers who are not in relationships.

Teens in relationships who feel their partner is not supportive might experience dips in self-esteem and overall feelings of self-worth. For example, if Jason is constantly putting Rebecca down and treating her with disrespect, she is likely to feel less attractive and less positive about herself overall.

Teenage relationships that are sexual can increase the likelihood of contracting Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and can lead to teen pregnancy. Research has found that about one third of sexually active teenage girls have become pregnant and the incidence of STIs in young people is rising.

If Rebecca and Jason have poor communication and are not open with one another, they may not know if the other person is faithful. If, for example, Jason is sexually active with a number of different partners and is not careful, he could contract an STI and pass it on to Rebecca.

Teenage relationships can also be violent. Physical violence is one way that this might happen. The National Institute of Health finds that violence occurs in about ten percent of high school relationships. Violence is exacerbated when teens in these relationships are abusing drugs and alcohol.

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