Turns out there’s a reason that first heartbreak is more painful than those people experience in adulthood: A combination of inexperience and biology is a volatile mix, according to researchers from the U.S. and Australia.
Teenage love, says lead researcher Dr. Carl Pickhardt, author of the upcoming book Surviving Your Child’s Adolescence, is usually infatuation, meaning it’s not the more stable kind of love adults fall into, but the feeling is overwhelming because teens have never had that kind of an intense relationship before. Australia’s The Age reports:
”They are more infatuated and consumed by the situation, and that’s why a breakup hurts so much, because they invest a lot in their relationship — a lot of themselves, much more than adults do. So, when it falls apart they are not like adults, they don’t have other things to grasp on to,” [clinical psychologist] Dr. [Vivienne] Lewis said.
She said adults were better able to cope with breakups because they were more careful.
”Teens are being overwhelmed by the endorphins and hormones that are involved and because they aren’t used to that experience they can be completely crushed when it breaks down. Adults have usually been through a few relationships so they are more careful.”
So, needless to say, the next time you encounter a teen taking a breakup hard, don’t discount their feelings. And to head a tough breakup off at the pass, it’s important to create as much balance in a child as possible, says Lewis:
”Parents need to keep children engaged in lots of other things — with their family, playing sport, doing school work — so the relationship is just one part of their life. It’s when it becomes the sole part of their life that it becomes dangerous and when it breaks down could lead to mental-health issues.”
That’s easier said than done, of course. To help them through a tough time, try gifting them one of our favorite breakup books:
Because sometimes everyone can use a little assistance from the self-help aisle.
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