I don’t think you could pay me to go back and relive my teenage relationship. I was a late bloomer, as they say, and despite having a stream of unrequited crushes throughout my youth, I only managed to solidify a real boyfriend late in my teens.
I’d grown up feeling left out, living vicariously through my less awkward and more appealing friends, as they found out that, yes, Tom from the year above did fancy them. I sat with pals in toilet cubicles as they cried after hearing that this week’s beau had been getting off with whatserface at the most recent party – which I never got invited to, by the way, not that I’m bitter.
I ached for a real relationship of my own to gossip about. Then I got one – and it was the absolute worst. Which is why it’s no surprise to me to discover there’s a proven link between bad teenage relationships and unhappiness, as revealed by researchers at the University of Denver this week.
Teens have little support to guide them through those early relationships. There’s the awkward personal, social and health education lessons, which lightly allude to the fact that teenagers will have relationships and may even kiss and touch each other, but warns both are bad and will automatically end in pregnancy or an embarrassing infection. So rarely are teenagers actually spoken to about the bare bones of relationships. Mutual respect, consent and how to spot the signs of emotional and physical abuse and manipulation are often missed off the curriculum – that’s if a curriculum is being followed at all.
I went through my teens watching the relationships of such greats as Meredith and Derek from Grey’s Anatomy, who were routinely breaking up and getting back together and shouting at each other down hospital hallways. My parents, while thankfully still together, were not overly romantic with each other but instead maintained a solid partnership – not the stuff of adolescent admiration.
No. I took my personal aspirations from informative TV shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Skins. Which is probably why, when I ended up in a screaming, crying, bloodbath of a relationship, I believed it was the norm.
Don’t get me wrong, when I got together with my First Real Boyfriend I thought our relationship was the bee’s knees. Sweet, charming, funny and taller than me; he had all the makings of a good suitor. It was an overwhelming whirlwind of love notes, bike rides and sleepovers.
Then things took a turn, as they do. Sex became a factor, and trying to mimic a grown-up relationship while having to balance the motions of growing up and studying took its toll. Intense bickering started and the lines between what was acceptable in a relationship and what was not began to blur. Except I didn’t realise that at the time, because no one had told me.
Love and sex news: in pictures
Love and sex news: in pictures
1/30 What makes a perfect penis?
Scientists have now answered one of these great unknowns. According to a new study, “general cosmetic appearance” is the most important penile aspect when it comes to what women value down there. This is swiftly followed by the appearance of pubic hair, penile skin, and girth. Length comes in at number six, with the look of the scrotum trailing closely behind. The least important facet of the phallus, say the scientists, is the “position and shape of meatus”, the vertical slit at the opening of the urethra.
2/30 Half of divorcees had doubts on their wedding day
Over half of divorcees considered abandoning their husband or wife-to-be at the altar on their wedding day, a new study has revealed. On top of likely worrying about wedding favours and making sure guests behave on their big day, 49 per cent of divorcees admitted they were unsure before the ceremony that their marriage would last. Some 15 per cent of divorcees polled said they were so wracked with doubt that they felt physically sick in the run up to their wedding.
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3/30 Students who marry after studying the same subject
Picking a university subject is already difficult enough for young people. But here’s an extra piece of data to weigh on your decision: you may be picking a life partner as well. Dan Kopf of the blog, Priceonomics, analysed US Census data and found that the percentage of Americans who marry someone within their own major is actually fairly high. About half of Americans are married, according to the 2012 American Community Survey (part of the Census). And about 28 per cent of married couples over the age of 22 both graduated from college. (The survey didn’t recognise same-sex marriages for the 2012 data, but it will for 2013 onwards, says Kopf).
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
4/30 How much sex we have (and how much we'd like)
As a nation, we don’t have as much sex as we would like, a survey has (somewhat unsurprisingly) confirmed. In a poll of 1523 people by YouGov, 64 per cent of Britons said they would wish to have sex at least a few times a month. The same sample said that only 38 per cent had sex at least a few times a month. In addition, 10 per cent said they wished to have sex every day, a goal which only 1 per cent admitted reaching.
5/30 The new female condom
Picture an internal condom. The chances are you’re thinking of something which resembles a carrier bag. However, this could all be about to change with the new VA w.o.w. Condom Feminine. Not only is it a wireless, Bluetooth enabled, vibrating interactive device, which comes available in the shape of a heart, but the manufacturers think you’ll love it more than not using a condom at all.
6/30 The UK's favourite sex position
Casting aside the myth that Brits are a prudish bunch, a new survey has revealed that doggy style is the nation’s favourite sex position. As many as a quarter of UK adults surveyed said doggy style was their favourite way to indulge with a partner. Missionary, which is sometimes scoffed at the most boring position, was favoured by a fifth of the 1,000 people surveyed by high street sex shop Ann Summers, seeing it come in as third under "woman on top".
7/30 Who's most likely to cheat?
Men and women who are economically dependent on their spouses are more likely to cheat, a new study has revealed. Researchers have found that men who are solely financially dependent are more like to cheat than women, at 15 per cent and 5 per cent respectively. Men who are rely on their wives may cheat because they are undergoing a “masculinity threat” by not being the primary breadwinner as is culturally expected, said study author Christin L. Munsch, a UConn assistant professor of sociology.
8/30 Jailed for loud sex noises
A woman who breached a court order barring her from causing nuisance by making "loud sex noises" was sent to jail. Gemma Wale, of Small Heath, Birmingham, was given a two-week prison sentence after a civil court judge concluded that she had breached the order by "screaming and shouting whilst having sex" at a "level of noise" which annoyed a neighbour.
9/30 Photo of wedding guest proposing to girlfriend in front of bride and groom goes viral
When the staggering amount time, money, and effort that goes into to planning a wedding is considered, it seems pretty obvious that all guests have is to do is turn up with some gifts, and not upstage the couple. But this fact seems to have escaped one man, whose grinning face has gone viral after he decided to propose to his girlfriend in front of the bride and groom’s top table. The photo, which has been viewed over 1.4 million times on Reddit, shows a boyfriend perched on one knee in front of his crying girlfriend.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
10/30 Sexual fantasies
The results of a sex survey are busting the myth that Britons are sexually repressed, by revealing how the majority of women have lived out their sexual fantasies. As many as 81 per cent of women and 77 per cent of men have shared and acted out fantasies with a partner – with having sex in public topping the list of turn-ons. The study also laid bare the influence of TV and film on our desires, with three-quarters of couples saying they had inspired them. Meanwhile, a further three quarters of women and over half of men have played out a fantasy they’d found in a book.
LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images
11/30 The world's sexiest nationalities
Irish men are the world’s sexiest, according to a survey of thousands of jet-setting women. In a poll of 66,000 of single American women who use MissTravel.com, as many as 8,000 said that Irish men are the sexiest. Around half of the females who took said they were turned on by Irish men said their accent influenced their choice, according to the Irish Times.
ANDREW COWIE/AFP/Getty Images
12/30 More sex = happiness?
Couples were asked to double the amount of sex they had each week over a three month period by researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University, who compared them to couples who had their normal amount of sex. Their findings, published in the Journal of Economic Behavior, went against advice given by the average self-help book – having more sex doesn’t automatically make a person happier. Instead, couples who were instructed to have more sex reported a decrease in happiness levels.
13/30 Most sexually satisfied countries
It is often considered the most amorous nation on the planet, but France doesn't even feature in a new list of the most sexually satisfied countries. According to a Durex global survey of 26,000 people, aged 16 and older, across 26 countries, only 44 per cent of people are fully satisfied with their sex lives. In the wake of these results, AlterNet has compiled a list of the 12 most sexually satisfied countries, with Switzerland, Spain and Italy topping the list.
INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images
14/30 Sex o'clock
They say women are from Venus and men are from Mars – but a new sex survey suggests that members of the opposite sex seem to operate in different time zones too. While women like to get steamy between 11:21pm on average, men are more likely to be turned on at the rather inconvenient time of 7:54am. These times fall into the broader timeslots of 11pm and 2am for women, and 6am and 9am for men.
PIERRE ANDRIEU/AFP/Getty Images
15/30 More sex = more money
People who have more sex are likely to earn more, new research claims. The research, partly conducted from the responses of 7,500 people, found employees who have sex two or three times a week earn 4.5 per cent more than colleagues who do not.
16/30 The effects of watching porn
Contrary to suggestion that porn desensitises viewers to sex, a study has found that it doesn't "negatively impact sexual functioning" and in fact boosts couples' sexual attraction to one another. In research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, scientists at the University of California tested the effects of visual sexual stimuli on men in relationships, finding that it "is unlikely to negatively impact sexual functioning, given that responses actually were stronger in those who viewed more VSS."
17/30 'I have herpes'
A woman diagnosed with herpes at the age of 20 has written an emotional essay about living with the common condition to fight the stigma surrounding it. Ella Dawson, now 22, said she had never had unprotected sex and thought she “wasn't the sort of person STDs happened to” when the symptoms first appeared during her time at university in the US. She wrote that the diagnosis initially felt like a “punishment” for her values and relationships and worried her that telling boyfriends would ruin her love life.
18/30 More sleep, better sex
A new study could have a simple answer to enhancing your sex life – just get a good night’s sleep (if you are a woman at least). A study conducted by a team at the University of Michigan Sleep and Circadian Research Laboratory found women who get an extra hour of sleep at night reported higher levels of sexual desire and were more likely to have sex with their partners.
19/30 Swipe right
A woman has detailed her experiences of a week of always swiping right on Tinder. By “opening the floodgates,” as Ms Caster describes it, she receives scores of messages from different men – and not all are terrible.
20/30 The most adulterous town in the UK
Ever wondered what the neighbours are up to? Well if you live in Beeston, Nottinghamshire, then the answer is probably... having an affair. The bustling East Midlands town has been granted the dubious honour of being the UK's top spot for infidelity – with a total of 941 affairs reportedly taking place right now. According to The Official Infidelity Index 2015, which was released this week, 2.54 per cent of the town’s population are currently seeing someone they shouldn't.
21/30 Average penis size revealed
Scientists have measured more than 15,000 men’s penises in an effort to find out what size is “normal”. Researchers at King’s College London and a London NHS trust said they hoped the review would help address “the concern that some men have about their penis size” and aid people suffering from anxiety and distress. They revealed that the average flaccid penis is 3.6ins (9.16cm) long, or 5.2ins (13.24cm) when stretched, and 3.7ins (9.31cm) in circumference. Erect penises are 5.1ins (13.12cm) long on average and 4.5ins (11.66cm) in girth.
22/30 One true love
Men fall in love more times in their life than women, according to a new survey. 2,000 adults were asked about relationships, and discovered that more than half of men say they've loved more than one person their lifetime. For women, it's markedly fewer, with only 45 per cent saying they've had multiple loves.
23/30 Dating site for 'beautiful people only'
A self-proclaimed “elite” dating website has removed around 3,000 members because they were "letting themselves go". BeautifulPeople.com describes itself as the “largest internet dating community exclusively for the beautiful” and puts people’s photographs to a members’ vote to decide if they are allowed in. But administrators have now shown that the rigorous 48-hour selection period is not a permanent pass by taking thousands of profiles down, mainly because of weight gain and “graceless ageing”.
24/30 Sex is a 'miracle cure'
Regular exercise – including sex, walking and dancing – are “miracle cures staring us in the face” and could dramatically cut our risk of cancer, dementia, heart disease and diabetes, leading doctors have said. In a new review of existing evidence which reveals the full extent of benefits that can be accrued from exercise, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said the improvement in health and savings to the NHS could be “incalculable”.
25/30 Pornhub searches by age of user
Pornhubs prolific Insights blog fires out many reports of sociological interest, none more so than its latest on age, which lays bare different age groups' sexual proclivities. Looking at the most popular searches among 18-24s, there are several familial terms including 'step mom', 'milf', 'mom' and 'step sister', a trend that seems to die out somewhat in users' 30s. By 65, 'massage' becomes the top term, while 'granny' perhaps unsurprisingly also hits the top ten.
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26/30 Mature sex
Research into the sexual lives of more than 7,000 men and women between the ages of 50 and 90 in England reveals that half of men and almost a third of women aged 70 and over were still sexually active, with around a third of these sexually active older people having sexual intercourse twice a month or more. Around two-thirds of men and over half of women thought “good sexual relations were essential to the maintenance of a long-term relationship” or “being sexually active was physically and psychologically beneficial to older people”.
27/30 The secret to an eighty year marriage
Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that 42 per cent of marriages in England and Wales end in divorce, and the average British marriage which ends in divorce lasts 11 years and six months. Helen and Maurice Kaye, now aged 101 and 102, have been married for 80 years, and say the secret is: “I think it’s important to have patience and tolerance. You're two entirely different people who suddenly live together, which can't be easy. But if you love each other, you get over the difficulties.”
28/30 Valentine's Day porn
Pornhub saw a (slight) drop in traffic on Valentine's Day as people focused on pleasuring their partners rather than themselves. Everywhere, it is, except for London. Overall UK traffic dipped 3 per cent across the UK, with Plymouth and Oxford seeing the biggest drops of 11 per cent and 10 per cent respectively. In fact every major city spent less time watching porn bar London, the Pornhub audience for which grew by 2 per cent.
29/30 1 in 10 men paying for sex
A tenth of British men have admitted to paying for sex, according to a new study. Professionals aged 25 to 34 who binge drink and take drugs were found to be the most likely to have used the services of prostitutes, based on findings from a study of 6,108 men. Around 11 per cent of subjects, in the study published in the Sexually Transmitted Infections journal, have ever paid for sex in their lifetime and four per cent admitted to doing so in the last five years.
30/30 Questions that determine if you're in love
The existence of love and its nature is something that has troubled philosophers for centuries, but a pair of scientists believe they have a set of questions that yield "clear empirical evidence" of it, or at least whether your relationship will end in divorce. They are: 'How happy are you in your marriage relative to how happy you would be if you weren't in the marriage?' and 'How do you think your spouse answered that question?'
We take it as a given that young people will know the difference. Being pinched under the arms because I’d said the wrong thing in front of his mum was not OK. Being driven down the motorway at speed because he was mad that I was sad and thought we should break up, that was not OK either. But as a teenager I took it as part and parcel of being in a dramatic, loving and real relationship. What could be more real, as a teenager, than something that makes you cry on a daily basis?
Eventually, of course, me and the First Real Boyfriend broke up. I was devastated; he moved on pretty quickly and was fine.
If I could go back in time I would do a lot of things differently, but as an adult I’m glad I went through those terrible, terrible times. Now I know what I will put up with and what I won’t. I know the warning signs of loving toxicity. I know what it is that I want from a relationship because I’ve been through something that I really don’t. It sounds like a terribly self-destructive process, but hey, that’s love.
Young people are going to date each other. They’re going to play at love and happy families. We live in an age where teens are freer than ever to explore their sexuality. So much so that earlier this week another study by YouGov revealed that nearly half of young people describe themselves as “not 100 per cent heterosexual”. Young people should be supported in their relationship choices – even if for the most part they might be bad.Reuse content