Our First Romantic Relationships

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I remember a lot of differences among my friends when we were in high school, especially when it came to who we went out with. Some of my friends dated the same person from the beginning to the end of high school, others dated a lot of different people along the way, and still others barely dated at all. But regardless of how much dating we were doing, all of us were trying to understand how to go about these relationships. Figuring out romantic relationships is not always easy. The reality is, most of us will have several relationships before we find a person that really fits us well and things work out for a long term commitment. It is during our teen years that many of us experience our first real girlfriend or boyfriend. Our feelings can run deep and powerfully affect how we feel day-to-day. Our first romantic relationships, even when they don’t work out, are really valuable. These relationships help us understand ourselves better and what we really want in a partner. They also help us figure out what we don’t want. When a relationship stops working for one reason or another, we can feel really bad for a while. This especially is true if the other person ends the relationship before we were ready for it to end. It also is true if a person we thought cared about us starts treating us badly. If you are experiencing one of your first relationships, keep in mind that the relationship should add positive things to your life and not bring you down all the time. Enjoy your current relationship but don’t let it hold you back from your goals. If you are going through one of your first break ups, remember: Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.” (Hermann Hesse) and “When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” (Alexander Graham Bell). Posted by Jennifer Kerpelman, Ph.D., Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University

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