By: Gavin Kelleher | Writer
February 10, 2017
The complexity of affection, feelings often indescribable yet felt so often, simplified into one single word: love. A word so frequently seen in movies, heard in songs and spoken by our peers, this word has developed throughout history but still remains just as mystifying and unruly as the imaginary creatures we dreamt of as children.
Except the only difference now is that although love may be located in the same general area in our brains where unicorns still exist, now we are told that you should begin the quest for your perfect someone, that someday “You will find your true love and everything will be perfect,” and if you don’t, then you might as well buy 20 cats and prepare to live in misery for the rest of your lonely life.
Contrary to this belief though, that perfect prince charming (or princess) may not exist, and here’s the thing, that’s completely okay!
Maturing from pre-teens to “young adults,” is arguably one of the most complex, irrational phases in life. Chemical concoctions surge, puberty ensues, and suddenly girls are experiment with makeup, and young boys discover the importance of deodorant. And with all the daydreaming, crushes and new found desires, love becomes one of the most enigmatic subjects. It is a topic of eternal mystery and persisting misery. The more we delve in, the more demanding love seems.
In order to slightly reduce the extent of confusion, it can be helpful to first understands the neurological, chemical, and physical aspects that contribute to the frazzling effect of adolescent affection. Even before puberty, the brain begins releasing various hormones called androgens which are responsible for the first feelings of having a “crush.” However, the intoxication of more matured affection really only sets in at the beginning of puberty.
Young boys experience the release of hypothalamus INAH-3 which is credited for the sudden and often overwhelming development of sexual thoughts. Combined with surges of testosterone young boys should be prepared for a whirlwind of puberty development. For girls a chemical called hypothalamus is the dominant factor for their change in hormones. As a generalization young girls are more driven because of this to seek more of an emotional relationship, whereas the chemicals circulating boy’s systems create a strong drive for physical relationships. Taking these chemical factors into account, it would be unrealistic a to neglect to mention and acknowledge that although these patterns have been studied throughout large groups, there are many people, boys and girls, who do not fit into these conclusions.
Attraction, as it may seem is pretty spontaneous at times, although it too has a scientific explanation when regarding what archetypes we find ourselves attracted to. Helen Fisher, who has a PhD in cultural anthropology, stated, “We are drawn to certain people not only for cultural reasons, such as socioeconomics, intelligence, and values, but also for biological reasons.”
Extensive studies have been conducted by University of California and many other universities, exploring attraction through many different lenses. Their findings have discovered links between attraction as it regards to parental figures, and even identifying signs that can hypothesize what type of person a young child will be attracted to as they mature depending on their relationships with family. These discoveries do not always reveal assuring results. A common result was the parallel between children who were abused as children either being attracted to abusers, or becoming abusers themselves. Not because they enjoyed this abuse, but as our animal brain conducts a majority of our life, many people are accustomed to this behavior and find an unhealthy sense of familiarity in it, which creates yet another obstacle to navigate in order to develop healthy habits of attraction.
Now for the really tricky part- navigating, understanding, and being in charge of your heart. In a day where expectations, misconceptions and fantasy blend together to create an unfortunate image of what love should look like, it’s important to remain as rational as possible when in love, all the while still enjoying the magical aspect of affection. The first step for creating an environment for romance to flourish lays upon an undermined, underappreciated and unrecognized attribute: self-love.
In the formulaic conception of love we are told that our partner should “complete us” and this is where the fault in love may lay. In order to be fully and utterly in love, first you must be comfortable with yourself. To allow love to engulf you in excitement you must be confident in your individuality so that you can enhance your partner’s individuality, as opposed to filling some sort of void they lacked without you.
A breaking point for many relationship is when a mix between expectations and portrayals as depicted through mass media are misunderstood as reality. This may leave couples feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled by a lack of excitement or flashy displays of affection. Often we are persuaded to believe that somehow our lives and relationships are lacking simply because they are not as appealing as say Jay Alvarez and Alexis Ren, this should not be any reason to glorify others, while neglecting to recognize your admiration for your partner. Don’t allow social media personas to deter you from enjoying the uniqueness of your relationship.
Showing initiative to communicate openly and honestly couldn’t be more important. Although we’ve all heard this before, communication creates a healthy platform for relationships to progress. Gabby Valdez, a junior, commented, “In order to have a good, healthy relationship in high school communication and openness is really key. I’ve seen a lot of couples break up simply because they don’t talk things through.” Gabby has been dating her boyfriend for several months, and when asked why she was dating her boyfriend Christian, she said “He’s one of the best things that ever happened to me. He makes me feel like the most special girl in the world, and I think that you should only date someone if they make you genuinely happy, which he does.”
Gabby’s boyfriend Christian Ramirez, a senior, added “Yeah, trust and a strong connection is what makes our relationship work. To have a healthy relationship you have to have full trust and be friends too.”
As the two clearly expressed, the importance of trust and communication are vital in a good relationship. These two aspects create a relationship where couples can be comfortable and see each other as equals, even as friends, just friends who also kiss.
As a teenager, most everything we experience is a process of trial and error. This can become a painful process when it comes to our delicate adolescent hearts. Too young to be shielded from all possible failure, yet old enough to experience heartache at its worst. Many young adults learn to shield themselves after bad break ups or failed crushes, the tragedy of this is how we transition into adulthood has a lot to do with how we learn to deal with sadness, heartbreak and disappointed as a teen.
I encourage you to remain soft, allow yourself to be sad but remember that every heartache is a chance to grow and learn, or allow the errors to define you and enclose your heart which limits your experiences because of fear. There is strength in vulnerability, and through this vulnerability we grow into loving, reasonable adults fully capable of experiencing a healthy, happy relationship.