Teen romance is like a minefield — few make it through completely unscathed and the path is strewn with the smoldering remains of countless broken courtships. According to common wisdom, this is because teenagers are volatile creatures who lack the maturity to resolve relationship issues. However, a new study has discovered that level-headed teens who handle disagreements well are just as likely to break up.
Teen Breakup picture from Shutterstock
Researchers at the Behavioural Science Institute of Radboud University in the Netherlands studied 80 heterosexual teenage couples aged between 14 and 16 years. All couples were in the process of dealing with relationship conflicts ranging from parental rules about dating to cheating and jealousy issues.
The study found that the likelihood of a couple breaking up was entirely independent of how well or poorly they handled or resolved these disagreements, and teens that were capable of better resolution were not more likely to stay together over time.
The results from this prospective study of adolescent couples suggest that conflict resolution and conflict recovery are not related to adolescents’ romantic relationship breakups. Adolescents who were capable of either resolving or recovering from conflict were not more likely to stay together over time. These results sharply contrast the outcomes of many previous findings among late adolescents, young adults, and married couples, which provided strong evidence for the importance of resolution and recovery for relationship longevity.
So if immaturity isn't the culprit, why do teens so frequently break up? According to the authors, this may be because teen couples tend to focus more on shared recreational activities and peer approval than on long-term commitment, with physical attraction providing the main motivation for sticking together.
The report concludes that over time, as relationship goals change to support long-term commitments, conflict resolution and recovery become more significant in defining relationship satisfaction. (Either that, or you realise you're getting a bit haggard and reluctantly settle for whoever you're with.)
Did anyone manage to stay with their teen sweetheart through to adulthood? Share your secret in the comments section below.