The seven ages of love: The teenager's view

A fourteen-year-old gives her take on the meaning of love
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Indy Lifestyle Online

To the average 14-year-old, sex is fascinating. On the one hand, there's a lot more information around about the subject than previous generations had access to but on the other hand we're also pretty ignorant about it. For instance, recently a rumour went round our class that clingfilm and crisp packets are used as contraceptives! I think 14-year-olds occupy the middle ground on the one hand they're still childish enough to find sex something to snigger at, and on the other there's the knowledge that sex is something that's going to be a reality one day.

Much of my knowledge about the subject comes from the fact that I and many of my friends are Sex and the City addicts. We've graduated from enjoying the TV repeats to getting hooked on the DVD box sets. For someone my age, it's very educational about not only sex but also the world of relationships particularly useful because as teenagers, we're not very good at making the link between sex and relationships.

Someone or something is always talking about sex we go from reading magazine articles such as "20 Ways To Please Your Man in Bed" to watching many explicit TV documentaries on the subject, as well reading sex scenes in novels. For example, I recently read Ian McEwan's Atonement, which has one crucial sex scene and I was surprised that I didn't find it too shocking and readily accepted it as part of the book. Perhaps we aren't too shocked by sex because there's so much of it about.

We may have giggled about sex when we were at primary school but it is at secondary school that we started to realise that sex is something that actually happens. The average 11-year-old starting secondary school not only hears a lot of very explicit sexual swear words from older students but also starts to study reproduction in science a highly amusing subject for a group of immature 11-year-olds! Sex education comes next, a year later. You might have thought we would have grown up a bit by then but no, having to put a condom on a banana was still hilarious. It is not until year nine, when we are 14 years old, that sex suddenly becomes serious. Maybe it's the thought that some of us will be having sex in one, two or three years' time or even that some people our age are having sex now.

Views on sex between teenagers vary enormously, and many friends of mine have different opinions on the subject. One friend of mine has decided to not have sex until she's married, while another feels that the age limit should be lowered. A lot of my friends, me included, feel that you should have sex when you feel ready. Age is just a number; it only provides a rough guideline to your maturity and responsibility and many teenagers don't act in the way that people expect them too some act older and some younger. The other day we had a very interesting and informative PSHE (personal social health education) lesson, but I worried that some of the information we received on STDs, for example might have come too late for some students. It is well known that in Holland, they educate children much younger than the rest of Europe and it has the lowest teenage pregnancy rate. In contrast, Britain now has the highest. Hasn't the government noticed this or is it just ignored?

We as teenagers are at that in-between stage where we might like or fancy someone, but we can't quite differentiate between attraction and love, or what we think is love. If we can't see a naked body without breaking into giggles, how on earth can we know if we love someone or not? I've come across the occasional peer who thinks that they are "in love" but we consider them slightly delusional as it always ends in disappointment or a short-lived relationship that goes wrong.

I don't know whether a teenager knows what love means. We see slushy, chick-flick romantic films and read teenage romance stories in magazines, but the real-life experiences that we gain from our parents and the adults around us seem somewhat different bickering, arguing, maniacally ordering each other about. I'm not quite sure whether this is what you call "real-life love" or whether the adults I encounter are a bunch of crazy lunatics!

I think teenagers are sometimes unfairly judged by society. Yes, some binge-drink, take drugs, have sex and get pregnant but not everyone. I think the general perception of teenagers is based on what people see on the news but we're not all like that.

And although we might think we know it all about sex, we don't. I'm sure that some people I know who've boasted they've "gone all the way" are exaggerating for effect. Teenagers just like to make out they know everything but in reality they feel fascinated, confused and sometimes squeamish about sex.

We're curious about sex and at the same time scared that in a few years' time, we will be "doing it".

And why shouldn't we be?

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