Sexual Relationships and their Effects on the Mental Health of Teenagers

by jmend3 on April 14, 2014 - 11:49pm

On our individual paths towards adulthood, young adults like ourselves naturally begin to desire to be a part of intimate relationships. This thirst of ours to be ‘loved’ by somebody can easily be attributed to our society’s linkage between having a boyfriend or girlfriend and ‘being happy’ and ‘living happily ever after’. Despite probably thinking that we know everything a lot of the time, teenagers, in reality, are generally too inexperienced and naïve to fully control and comprehend their emotions. This leads sociologists to believe that, although inevitable, we are infact too young to be taking part in such intimate and sexual relationships as they are more than likely just setting us up to get hurt and then making us more susceptible to mental health conditions down the road such as anxiety, depression, and even suicide.

In the academic article Causal Sexual Relationships and Mental Health in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood, authors Sara Sandberg-Thoma and Claire Kamp-Dush delve in to the subject in hand and confirm the dangers young adults take when they enter a serious relationship. With an over-baring barrage of figures and statistics, this article displays for us how much more incredibly vulnerable these relationships make teenagers to having mental health issues down the road. I’m not always the first to admit it but I undoubtedly suffer myself from forms of anxiety and depression that have come about in the aftermath of a break-up with my girlfriend of three years. I know what it’s like to be in love and I know what it’s like to lose it and, as a result of my experiences, I can’t help but agree with those sociologists because, even though I’m only eighteen, the intimate relationships I have been a part of have certainly taken a toll on me.


Sandberg-Thoma, S. E., & Kamp Dush, C. M. (2014). Casual Sexual Relationships and Mental Health in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood. Journal of Sex Research, 51(2), 121-130 doi:10.1080/00224499.2013.821440


A great point you make is that people at a young age tend to get into relationships and think that they will be "living happily ever after". Which sometimes that is the case, but most of the time it isn't. Teenagers often get too wrapped up in relationships and too emotionally invested a young age. While you are in high school you do not need to be tied down and talking to the same person 24/7. You should be talking to everyone you want and being free. Often young people think that being intimate is to show love, but more of the time it isn't. I know on my case it wasn't. A girlfriend i had a couple years ago and I decided to be intimate, and the only thing that caused is trouble. Neither of us were looking for anything serious but being intimate kind of forces you to be. We broke up shortly after. Then there is the breakup aftermath, people in the relationship being all down and sad for months after a break up, when they should be having fun while they are young. Overall i agree that relationships at a young age are often unhealthy. The young people aren't ready for anything serious at the time but are often forced into it.

This post caught my attention because I am recently single myself. Being a teenager, especially one in college, is already a difficult situation, but add dating to the mix and you have a recipe for overwhelming stress. It would seem that regardless of the latent dysfunctions you described in your post it is expected and almost normative for teenagers to be in relationships. I would not be able to count the number of times a relative has asked “got a girlfriend yet?” at family functions. I agree that at the individual level teenagers seek out relationships, but I feel there is also a social pressure that drives teenagers to feel they need to be in a relationship. Whether it is from peers or family members, individuals want to conform to the norm of being in a relationship especially as individuals’ progress through their teenage years. Although I can only attest for this social pressure from the perspective of a middle class male, I believe it has generalizability. Thank you for this interesting post.

As a human we desire to be loved. The idea of love is something we are born with and we spend our whole lives searching for the one that is our soul mate. I am not sure if there is a certain age that we should be allowed to start dating, because I believe it is different for everyone and it depends on if you are ready or not. Having a boyfriend or girlfriend can have positive and negative effects on a person, but it is a way of learning of what you want and need in your life. Not every relationship is going to last, but it is a learning experience. If a person is with someone for a long time it is hard to let go of the past when a break up happens, but it just means it was not the right person. A break up is not a simple thing; feelings do not just go away overnight and depending on the length of the relationship it affects the individual differently. So when a break up occurs there is some stress added to a person’s life, but it unavoidable because not every relationship can work. In the article you refer to, you say that there was research done, but never told the ages that this idea is affected. This makes it hard for me to agree with this because even though there is pain in a break up it forces us to move on and heal. I do believe an individual can develop anxiety and depression from a relationship ending, but this is something that is not permanent. It a feeling people get because they have to figure out what happened and why this relationship ended, however most people have someone to support them through this time. Our past relationships help us find out who we are and teach us that even if we thing it is the right person, it was not. Things are going to happen and life is not perfect and that is something we have to accept. I really enjoyed this response as it is something we can all relate to as being young we all search for this idea of love. I do like how you talk of your own personal experience and of your break up, even though it seems to have caused you a great deal of pain. That is something brave to do and talk about as it helps your reader sympathize with you and see where you are coming from. After a break up I do believe there is an added stress as you go through all the things trying to see what went wrong, but sometimes it just seems two people are not always meant to be. However, for me saying this is hard because I have never been in a serious relationship, but I have had many friends who have been and have always been their support in and out of their relationships. Being in a relationship seems to be an important part of society, but not because it is always due to “true love” sometimes it seems people are looking for “desperate love” as they just need someone because they are lonely, though it may not always be the right one. I really liked your point of view and can see where you are coming from, but I believe this anxiety and depression can go away. However, this may be because I believe that the right person is out there for us all, it just takes a few people to figure out where we are supposed to be.

I find this article to be very interesting. I understand where you are coming from in that one often believes that they are in “love” too soon and believe that they know everything. Everyone knows a couple that was naïve and became too involved, too soon; this makes the article very relatable. However, once that relationship ends or once the couple becomes more sexually involved, the feelings may change and of course there would be an effect on those involved. The feelings may not be great, and it will not be easy getting over that relationship, but I believe every experience influences who one becomes. There may be some mental health conditions that could result, but I believe that it helps the person realize what they need in life. Mental health conditions can result from any experience, not just relationships. One also should not just focus on the cons of being in an intimate relationship; they should consider how they felt during that time and realize that it is not the end of the world if the relationship ends. I really liked the fact that you were able to relate to this article because it allowed me to see where you were coming from. I believe that there is someone out there for everyone and that the path of finding that person is just as important as finding the person themselves. Overall great article.

I think this is definitely an interesting topic that needs to be addressed. I think that there are a lot of various factors that influence how teenagers and young adults treat love such as what we know, what we eventually experience, and what we are exposed to. Before we experience love we can only go off of what we witness which is what we have grown up with which is most likely our parents, aunts and uncles, or grandparents. This can impact our relationship with what we think love is because we are only going off of what we know. So whatever we grow up with as children is most likely what we will experience the first time around. Then, depending on how your first serious relationship goes you either are golden, and you and your partner continue to define love within your relationship. Or, maybe it doesn't work out, you learn, and you hopefully can find a way to move on. Then, there is what we are exposed to, and for us 18-24(ish) year olds we are exposed to a very casual sex culture. I think all of these factors seriously impact how we are within our relationships and how we get over them. If we are in a relationship and we are kind of happy but maybe we could be happier, do we stay? Because grandma and grandpa have been together since they were 14, why can’t we do that too? Do you break up? And begin to hook up and have sex with anyone willing? Simply because, well, that’s what everyone else is doing, so is that what I’m supposed to do as well?
I think that the unfortunate truth is that today, a serious relationship is not the same as a sexual relationship. I think because of this it is more difficult for people to find a trusting relationship and a lifelong partner because just when you think you have found the one you get stabbed in the back for the Nth time. At the end of the day, I think we need to all do what makes us happy and healthy in the long run…and I have never heard of casual sex doing either.

I definitely agree with all of the points you discussed in your article. Young teenagers always seem like they are in such a hurry to grow up, when in reality those are some of the best years of your life! From my own personal experiences as what I have seen in high school, people tend to jump right into these relationships and become so attached to one another or even "obsessed" that when these relationships don't work out, they have no idea how to act or how to spend their time anymore. Teenagers in high school also jump into these relationships for all the wrong reasons, like fitting in with their peers or to be "cool". I believe that when people jump into these relationships too young, that it completely sets you up for disaster. I personally jumped into my first "serious" relationship when I was only fourteen years old and even though it lasted for three years, I ended up mentally abused and without a doubt believe that it jumpstarted and caused many of the issues that I face in current relationships like trust, fear, abandonment, anxiety and depression. Looking back at it, I wish i was not in such a hurry to have a boyfriend and do all those "cool" things because even at 23 years old today I face countless struggles with my current boyfriend because of that first awful relationship. I definitely would encourage people to wait until they are more emotionally mature to jump into a relationship so that they know when to get out of the relationship or understand that it is not the end of the world if they break up.

I have to agree with this post. As human beings we want to be loved it's just in our nature at least what I have seen in our human nature. We constantly wish to be loved by someone for some reason or another, usually believing that by having some form of companionship that it will lead to some form of happiness for ourselves. I personally can see that this semester me and my girlfriend broke up and I will admit it was hard in the beginning, but over time it did become easier to deal, and I can easily say that i'm happy now without being in a relationship too. I guess what i'm saying is that even though we're driven to be loved by someone we have to keep in mind that even if we're not in a relationship that we should still remain happy. That's the way I see it anyways.

I definitely see how sociologists concluded that being in long-term relationships as a teenager can affect ones mental health and could lead to anxiety and depression. Many teenagers are too inexperienced to be in a long-term relationship. When a couple breaks up I have witnessed many people act like it was the end of the world. When someone is only 18 or 19 years old and they break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend it really is not that big of a deal. The individual still has so much life to experience and so many more people to meet that in reality breaking up with their significant other could be the best thing for them. I see situations like this all the time with friends. They think they need someone or they need to be in a relationship to be happy and I believe this has what they have been brain washed to do by society. Teenagers are too young to let a relationship control their life and they have too much life to live to get depressed from a relationship.

This article makes a great point that I completely agree with. Many people tend to believe in love at such an incredibly young age. Young couples are very inexperienced and in some cases they think that they are “in love” too early in their relationship. This early feeling of love could affect someone’s behavior especially if the relationship ends poorly. It may cause depression or anxiety and effect ones mental health. However, relationships are a learning experience and in many cases could end badly. There is also a chance that you fall in love with someone at a young age and end up staying with them your whole life and possibly get married. All people should do what makes them happy and should be in a relationship with whoever they want to be with, even if it takes years to find the right person. For example, I was in an intimate relationship with a guy in high school and it ended up not working out as well as we thought. I realized that I just wasn’t ready to have a serious boyfriend especially since I was going off to college at the end of the year. As a result, I learned that it was the right decision to end the relationship because I wasn’t happy and I shouldn’t make a decision based on somebody else’s happiness.

This post was straightforward and very accurate in my opinion. The teenage years are full of new changes, feelings, and hormones. Falling in love or being in a serious, intimate relationship can result unstable feelings and emotions. That has happened to me. I've been with my boyfriend for over a year. I usually feel content and very happy when it comes to us, however, when we fight, that's a different story. I get really hurt and upset. I'm miserable until we work things out. Maybe it’s because this is my first time ever being in love with someone. I've never felt this way about anyone before. He makes me so happy, so then when we do fight, it takes a really hard toll on me. We are pretty attached to each other. I think that that is why teens may have mental health problems due to relationships. New feelings occur, and we don't know how to deal with them completely. It’s almost like we are vulnerable. For many people falling in love and getting married is one of their goals. Teenagers sometimes think that the person they first fall in love with will be the person they marry. When the couple ends up breaking up, they are crushed. As we get older, we will learn and experience more. It will get easier. There is such a high stress on love. If it’s meant to happen, it will happen.

i think this article and the comments on it brought up a lot of great points. This article is very easy to relate too because everyone knows someone in a relationship or has been in a relationship for a long time at a young age. I think a lot of the problems that stem from becoming emotionally invested in someone at such a young age are due to the fact that people place their self worth on what others think of them, and having a significant other makes them feel like they're desirable. Many teenagers these days invest all their time into their boyfriend and girlfriend, and start to develop a dependency on them so they don't know how to create their own happiness. I think especially at this time in our lives, it is good to see a lot of people and figure out what you want for yourself before committing to something. College especially is about growing as an individual.

I find this very interesting because I’ve rarely read anything about this. I agree with you to a certain point and I like that you bring your own experience to explain the subject. However, I find all of this very negative and I believe there is a way to try to balance things so that teenagers can have healthy sexual relationships that could result in a lower chance of mental health problems. In the article , there are programs that are suited for American teenagers so they can meet both emotional and physical needs.

I agree with your statement that for some, early sexual relationships can lead to the development of mental health issues. I have read the short novel titled “Coping with Childhood Abuse” by Judith Cooney and I can confirm that an early sexual experience can cause post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, behavioural issues with anger, and many other disorders and psychological illnesses. I found an article that is about a study on 649 male and female students addressing early sexual activities and the possible developments of behavioural problems. I decided to link you to an article that explains the possible behavioural outcomes because the typical negative effects brought on by early sexual relations are those associated with the psychological aspect. I believe that the physical outcomes are just as important because behavioural problems can develop into habits.

I agree with your statement that for some, early sexual relationships can lead to the development of mental health issues. I have read the short novel titled “Coping with Childhood Abuse” by Judith Cooney and I can confirm that an early sexual experience can cause post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, behavioural issues with anger, and many other disorders and psychological illnesses. I found an article that is about a study on 649 male and female students addressing early sexual activities and the possible developments of behavioural problems. I decided to link you to an article that explains the possible behavioural outcomes because the typical negative effects brought on by early sexual relations are those associated with the psychological aspect. I believe that the physical outcomes are just as important because behavioural problems can develop into habits.

You post exposes a very important subject since it is not normal for a teenager to suffer from mental health and depression because of a relation. We should be aware of this to understand that the end a relationship is not the end of our life. However it is true that controlling our emotion is not an easy thing to do. I am doing an academic work right know and part of it is about what are the consequences of child abuse in their future life. I saw a similarity between your post and my work because child that has been abused will often suffer from stress and anxiety all their life. They will also tend to react more strongly to some event as an adult and they will have some difficulty to engage in a relation ship. Like teenagers that have intimate relation ship, children are more likely to be vulnerable.

First of all, I just wanted to say that this is a great summary and a great topic! I am currently focusing on depression in teens for my Newsactivism Class, and this could definitely add to my knowledge about mental health and teens. It seems to me that the effect a relationship has on an individual is dependent on how serious the relationship is. For example, some kids in middle school might think that they are in love and will stay together until the end of time, but by an adult's standards, seeing each other at school every day and asking their parents for rides to each other's houses while under constant supervision would not be considered a serious relationship. Personally, I went to high school in a rural area, and everyone lived pretty far away from each other, as we all came from different towns. As such, it was a bit hard to maintain a serious relationship until one of the two people had a car and a license, otherwise the parents had to provide the rides. This didn't happen often as no parent enjoys being the taxi driver, going back and forth across the valley when there are things to be done at home. However, in an urban setting, such as montreal, the possibility of a serious relationship is greater. Public transportation and no lack of activities to do around town mean that a couple could spend more time together and away from their parents, therefore creating a stronger, more independent relationship. That's my two cents on it, but I would definitely have to look at more articles in order to have an educated opinion on the matter.

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