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Is It Important for a Teen to Have a Girlfriend?

Asked by on with 1 answer:

From a teen in Rwanda:  i am 19 by November this year, but recently i have been thinking if having no girlfriend at my age really matter…
many teens by my age already have girlfriends or boyfriends, many had their first kisses or even much worse had their first break up but me, i have no experience in such matters, i really want to be in a relationship but don’t know where to start  (lets say shyness).

Is It Important for a Teen to Have a Girlfriend?

Answered by on -

A.

I’m so glad you asked your question. Yes, relationships are on the mind of all teens. But it simply isn’t true that everyone has a romantic experience during their teen years. Worldwide only about 35% of teenagers find romance. If they marry, only a little over a half of those couples succeed in staying married over 10 years.

So. Please relax. You are not in the minority — even though it seems so. Often teens act as if they have a girlfriend or boyfriend because they don’t want others to know that they don’t. Lots of people are fooling everyone else because they think they are alone in being single.

As for your shyness: Researchers have found that almost half of teens describe themselves as shy. You’re not alone in that feeling either. Some people are just normally more introverted than others. It’s not a problem unless it becomes so extreme that it interferes with someone’s ability to function in day to day life. Then it may become a social anxiety disorder. 

If you are able to generally get along with people, but sometimes find it a bit of a struggle, you may be just “shy” as you suggested. Not everyone is the life of a party. Some people are just quieter and more reserved.

If that’s the case, the way to stretch out of it is to join in a group that is doing something you are truly interested in. That can be a sport or an interest group or a volunteer effort. When people work or play  or create together, the focus is on the task at hand, not on making friends. Paradoxically, friendships often grow organically as people get to know each other over time and feel good about what they are doing together.

Sometimes friendships then grow into romance. But even when they don’t, developing and maintaining solid friendships is an important way for you to learn about what you are looking for in a potential partner.

When I suggest to people that they join something, they often say something like “I’m not a joiner.” To which I reply, “Well, friends and lovers aren’t going to knock on your door. Maybe it’s time you became one.”

I know. It can feel risky. There’s always the possibility that you’ll feel out of place or that you will be rejected. But finding a group is like finding new clothes. You have to try a few on before you feel like you have found the right fit. You may need to check out several groups before you find one that feels at least a little comfortable.

Do give it a fair chance. Go back a few times before you decide that a group isn’t for you. Sometimes it takes a few times for others to get comfortable with someone new and for you to see people as they really are.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Is It Important for a Teen to Have a Girlfriend?

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APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2020). Is It Important for a Teen to Have a Girlfriend?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2020/06/15/is-it-important-for-a-teen-to-have-a-girlfriend/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 13 Jun 2020 (Originally: 15 Jun 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 13 Jun 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.