Many adults dismiss adolescent dating as superficial, according to the ACT for Youth Center of Excellence. However, that's not always the case. Many teenagers in love perceive their relationship as serious and plan to stay together for a long time. Certain qualities of a long-term adolescent relationship make it distinct from other types of relationships.
While most adults already have a sense of self, a teenager is still discovering her identity and what she is passionate about in life. According to the ACT for Youth Center of Excellence, adolescents are in the process of refining personal values and determining their goals. A long-term romantic relationship might facilitate this growth by reinforcing values, or serve as a hindrance to growth if a teenager's identity is completely wrapped up in her partner.
Intense, long-term relationships are not ideal for every teenager. Serious relationships can be difficult for some teens, and some teens are so focused on their own developing feelings and responsibilities that they do not have the emotional energy it takes to maintain a relationship, according to an article on the KidsHealth website. The teenagers who are involved in long-term relationships should feel they have the emotional energy it takes to invest in another person's life.
Unfortunately, violence might be a part of a teenager's long-term relationship. Cambridge Public Health reports that one in three adolescent girls in the U.S. is the victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. An abusive teen in a relationship might constantly put his date down, have mood swings, be possessive, or isolate her from her family and friends whose support she desperately needs.
Different Levels of Readiness
The Center for Young Women's Health reports that there is no "best" age for teenagers to begin dating, and that everyone will be ready for a serious dating relationship at a different time. Although many adults might perceive the long-term teenage relationship as immature, some teenagers have the emotional capacity and maturity to be ready for such a relationship. Their healthy relationship will consist of good communication, healthy boundaries and mutual respect.