Love vs.. Adult Love Is love the same for adolescents and it is for adults? At fifteen, is an adolescent able to feel and express love the same way as a thirty-year-old? Arguably, love is the hardest emotion for humans to control; it is involuntary and impermanent (Fisher, 2006, p. 74). Perhaps that is why as an adult, we are better to cope with all that love entails – the emotions, the physical exploration, the self-inquiries and self-identification. Not only as an adult are we more capable of managing the effects of love, we are also more capable of lending and giving love than we are as an adolescent.
The relationships that love creates between adolescents vary significantly. One adolescent daydreams about the person sitting behind him in math class with whom he has never spoken, whereas another goes steady with someone for three years and describes their relationship as the “real deal”. Still another couple is inseparable for two straight weeks, then suddenly breaks up. A teenager claims to have a boyfriend but, when asked, the boy denies the connection. Two adolescents acknowledge that they are going together but never spend mime with each other apart from other members of their crowd.
Another pair of adolescents talk with each other every night but never display any affection for each other in public for fear of being ridiculed by their peers. More often than not in adolescent relationships, lust is mistaken for romantic love. Adolescent relationships could be established based on one single factor. Adolescents can have relationships for the sake of convenience or status or perhaps even to spite their parents in a rebellious fit. As Haze & Coffman (1994) state, “Attachment theory predicts developmental changes as well as nonentities.
Whereas the dynamics and functions of attachment are similar across the lifespan, structural changes – specifically the shift from complementary to reciprocal attachments and the integration of sex – are predicted to occur as one moves from infancy, through childhood and adolescence, into adulthood” (pig. 23). Therefore, when adults enter into a relationship, they do so based on mutual agreement; not to appease the public and based on commonalities. In adult relationship attachments, there is usually a combination of attachment, carving, and sexual mating (Haze & Coffman, 1 994, p. ). Additionally, although both adult and adolescent relationships could share three of the same attachment components – proximity seeking, safe haven, and separation protest – among the partners, usually only mature, adult relationships will have the fourth component ? secure base (Haze & Coffman, 1 994, p. 24-30). Adolescents most likely will rely on their parents to fulfill this particular component; the parents still provide that unconditional love that perhaps an adolescent is unable to provide.
Adolescents tend to have a more insecure attachment to their partner than do adults. Adults with a secure attachment style are able to “balance their needs for closeness and autonomy, while maintaining high levels of self- esteem” (Roles et al. , 2008, p. 107). In contrast, the emotions of love tend to take more of a toll on an adolescent’s self-esteem. Adolescent relationships contribute more to identity and individualizing, and tend to hold an adolescent’s attention more effectively than school and family, and even friends.
As an adult, one generally has found a way to integrate the important aspects of one’s life such as work/school, friends/family, and a significant other/romantic relationship. When it comes to sex and physical intimacy, personal, religious, or cultural values may strain sexual behavior more as an adolescent than as an adult. Adolescents are generally taught abstinence is the best policy by their parents, teachers, and/or religious leaders. Therefore, any sort of intimate, physical contact between adolescents is generally frowned upon by adolescents’ mentors, and creates a sense of remorse and regret among the adolescents.
Adults are freer to express themselves without consequences. However, attraction that adults have towards their partner is more likely to involve feelings of love beyond those of a sexual nature. Companionship, intimacy, and caring, and a genuine friendship are usually all present in adult relationships. The level of commitment, attachment, and carving increase as the relationship becomes more long-term. These features differentiate romantic relationships from practically all other close relationships an adolescent is likely to have.
Adults operate under more of a functional anger when their needs are not Ewing met in a relationship, whereas adolescents may use dysfunctional anger to attempt to get their point across to their partner. Functional anger simply means that an individual makes his/her frustration know to his/her partner in such a way that the point is not lost in its delivery’ method. Dysfunctional anger, on the other hand, usually results from built up resentment and the argument an individual is trying to make is lost in the hostility of the conveyance (Roles et al. , 2008, p. 107).
A successful, adult relationship requires concern for one another’s feelings. An individual feels genuine concern when their partner is upset or sad, and takes steps in order to please the upset partner. In a relationship between adults or adolescents, the passion and attraction that is found in new relationships eventually wanes and there needs to be “something else” present in the relationship to keep it going (Haze & Shaver 1992, p. 435). This is perhaps why adolescent relationships typically don’t last long; they are unaware that mutual friends and attraction to one another are not enough to sustain their relationship.
It is common for adolescents who have been in a “relationship” together to encounter one another frequently post breakup: they attend the same school and/or run in the same group Of friends. This could give one or both of the adolescents the illusion that they still have feelings for one another based merely on the frequency of contact they have with one another. This is due to a lack of necessary distance needed from another – physically and emotionally; the adolescents have not allowed, or are not able to provide, the necessary distance from the other person.
Their attachment bond can only be broken by an extended period of psychological and physical distance (Haze & Saver, 1992, p. 433). Although adults are more capable of achieving the necessary distance from their ex- partners, relationship dissolution is more devastating among the adults. The ex-partners most likely provided secure bases for one another. This loss requires more long-term healing and dealing than in an adolescent relationship; parents typically still keep the secure base for adolescents – not the partner.
In conclusion, although love is universal, it is defined and experienced differently by adults than it is by adolescents. Furthermore, almost solely do adults feel love, in its truest and most authentic form. Adolescents do not possess the emotional qualities and capacity to not only experience “adult love”, but do not have the ability to give love properly to a partner.