Attraction in Teens


Attraction in Teens

Adolescence is the dawn of sexual attraction. These changes involve both the body and the mind — so just thinking about someone attractive can cause physical arousal. In the transition from childhood to teenage, the bodies develop and change so do the feelings and emotions of a person. As Dion DiMucci bemoans in his song

Each night I ask 

The stars up above 

Why must I be 

A teenager in love? 

One day I feel so happy 

The next day I feel so sad

 I guess I’ll learn to take The good with the bad

The hormonal and physical changes of puberty usually mean they will start noticing an increase in sexual feelings and it can be both wonderful and worrying. These changes often happen around the ages of 10 – 15 years and by 19 years romantic relations can become central to teenage social lives. It’s also common for children to have no interest in romantic relationships until their late teens. Some young people choose to focus on schoolwork, sport or other interests.  It takes time for many people to understand who they are becoming, their own sexual feelings, and who they are attracted to. Romantic relationships can bring many emotional ups and downs for a child – and sometimes for their family too. But these feelings lead a child towards a deeper capacity to care, share and develop intimate relationships.

Before a child starts having a relationship they might have one or more crushes, a romantic crush can tell a lot about the things that a child finds attractive in people. Romantic crushes tend not to last very long but a child’s intense feelings are real. For people learning about sex and relationships can be difficult. It always helps to talk to someone about the confusing feelings that go with growing up – whether that someone is a parent or other family member, a close friend or a sibling, or a school counsellor.

However, psychological research suggests that these feelings turn out majorly to be infatuation and very less likely to be love. The factors leading to these attractions can be broadly classified as Situational factors and Individual factors. Situational factors show that teenage attraction arises as a result of close proximity and familiarity, along with the low level of anxiety that one experiences. The mere exposure effect as explained by Robert Zajonc states that we develop an attraction toward others because of the repeated exposure to the person. Individual factors include similarity in personal qualities, reciprocity of liking, and whom they find physically attractive.

If a child is in a relationship, it can bring up questions about sex and intimacy. Not all teenage relationships include sex, but most teenagers will experiment with sexual behaviour at some stage. This is why children need clear information on consent, contraception, safe sex, and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). This can also be a chance for parents to talk together about dealing with unwanted sexual and peer pressure. If parents let their children know that they are there to listen, children will be more likely to come to them with questions and concerns.

These new feelings can be intense, confusing, and sometimes even overwhelming. Teens are beginning to discover what it means to be attracted romantically and physically to others. And recognizing one’s sexual orientation is part of that process. Working out one’s identity and worrying about where they ‘fit in’ can be a challenging time for teenagers, and can cause anxiety, distress, and a sense of isolation. Remember, discovering their sexuality can also be a liberating positive experience for a teenager. Although many people experience homophobia, coming to terms with their true identity can give your teenager a sense of belonging and an opportunity to connect with a new, nurturing community.

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