Can teens be in love?

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Photos </a><figcaption id=Photos by Yash Sharma and Kari Iocolano

Restrictions define our lives. Specifically for teens, age restrictions placed upon us by society limit our every action: 21 to drink, 18 to vote, and 16 to start learning how to drive. There is an unwritten age requirement for something as personal as dating as well, mandating that younger people are less ready for relationships.

There is a common stigma against young love—that kids should be focusing more on finishing their homework, rather than devoting their time and energy to relationships that surely won’t result in anything worthwhile.

My question is: Who are we to determine the validity of their relationship?

Perhaps these kids aren’t in their twenties, or even teen years. However, this doesn’t dictate the standard of a healthy relationship. Adults can be just as immature as some adolescents. Conversely, some kids can act just as mature as adults. Regardless of their ages, if people in a relationship can understand commitment and know how to develop and harbor a genuine relationship, then they shouldn’t face criticism for being in one.

What’s the definition of dating? To me, dating means committing time and attention towards someone who is reciprocating these actions. It can involve simply getting to know the other person better and spending more quality time with them. At our age, dating can be the equivalent of an amplified friendship – and isn’t that the basis of all romantic relationships, at any stage of life?

A teenage couple can do the same things as a couple in their twenties can do. They can all still go to the movies together, eat at their favorite restaurants, or just talk to each other. As young kids who are still in school, we know how to interact with the many peers around us and form relationships with them. We have been doing so since we started attending school. A teenager and an adult can both be completely capable of socializing with the one they like and know what it means to date. They both can provide the responsibility that the definition of dating requires, despite the difference in age.

Even if someone is young, he or she can still be capable of dating. People are bound to have their fair share of crushes here and there. It is impossible to prevent the feeling one gets when they are aware of someone they are romantically attracted to. However, it is the way a person manages their feelings that determine their maturity level. A number should not be the sole factor in granting permission to date, but rather it should be granted by myriad factors that interconnect and make for a relationship with a consecration of its own.

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