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Is "Puppy Love" Really Undesirable?

Christina Lin

According to a survey conducted by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, over one-quarter of students (26.3%) are either in or have been in romantic relationships. The proportion of middle school students involved in romantic relationships is 10.6%, while for high school students, it is 42.3%. Nowadays, while an increasing number of students are entering romantic relationships, many parents are angry about it, labeling it as inappropriate, opposing it as a result. Why, exactly, is early romantic involvement to be frowned upon? Why is it considered a mistake?

The term “puppy love” or “early love” refers to romantic relationships established by individuals under the age of 18 who are still physically immature. This term emerged in China during the 1960s and is specific to the Chinese language. In comparison, in other countries, particularly in Western countries, parents often support their children's romantic relationships during adolescence and consider it a normal expression of their emotions. This makes all that interesting for that such acts are only abnormalized in China.

Teenagers may experience early romantic relationships during their puberty and developmental period due to various reasons. One reason could be that they are attracted to someone based on a particular quality or trait, which triggers hormonal responses and leads to feelings of admiration or infatuation. Another reason could be related to an unsatisfactory or lacking family environment during adolescence, where the teenager seeks warmth and affection from someone else and develops romantic feelings as a result.

The term "puppy love", or "early love", emerged because an increasing number of people believed that children are too young and physically and emotionally immature to have a proper understanding of romantic relationships. They are not ready for romantic involvement. Furthermore, it is commonly argued that students should prioritize their studies and focus on their academic pursuits rather than engaging in romantic relationships, which can distract them from their studies. Therefore, the term "puppy love" came into use as a way to describe the phenomenon of students engaging in romantic relationships at an early age.

The phenomenon of early romantic relationships among students is becoming increasingly common, and different parents have varying attitudes towards their children's involvement in such relationships. According to surveys, a significant 68% of parents are against early romantic relationships, with 95.4% of them opposing it Due to concerns about its impact on their children's academic performance, leading to a decline in grades. Other reasons cited by parents include their belief that children are too young to understand the concept of love and may engage in excessive or inappropriate behavior. Each parent may have their own specific reasons for opposing early romantic relationships, but overall, many parents view "puppy love" (early love) as a mistake.

"Due to the earlier onset of puberty among middle school students, early romantic relationships have increasingly become a challenging issue for class teachers. Early romantic relationships not only affect students' normal learning but also have a significant impact on their physical and mental health."

(Li Dejie)

Teachers oppose early romantic relationships because they believe it can impact students' academic performance and their emotional well-being.

However, does early romantic involvement truly bring about these effects? Is disallowing early romantic relationships a correct perspective?

Yang Yang, a psychological science communication expert at the Chinese Association for Science and Technology, mentioned in literature that "love has positive significance. Through the process of experiencing love, children can practice how to interact with the opposite sex and learn how to manage romantic relationships, preparing for their future married life." This indicates that engaging in romantic relationships during adolescence can provide teenagers with valuable experiences that contribute to their personal growth. It helps them understand the qualities they seek in a potential life partner, which can be beneficial .

Early romantic relationships do not necessarily impact academic performance negatively. In fact, they might even enhance academic performance.

Early romantic relationships can have both positive and negative impacts. According to surveys, many individuals have experienced emotional distress in their romantic relationships, which can lead to prolonged feelings of disappointment, self-blame, and disregard for their future. They may even engage in excessive or extreme behaviors.

In light of such circumstances, it is important to maintain a clear understanding of our romantic relationships and exercise rationality, instead of become completely consumed by them. Our attention should not solely revolve around our romantic relationships. If emotional issues arise, it is crucial to address them objectively and learn how to handle them correctly, thereby minimizing the negative impacts they may have on us.

Experiencing feelings of affection towards others and establishing relationships during our youth is normal and natural, and it would be biased to consider them to be inherently wrong. As long as we respect each others’ boundaries, exercise self-awareness, and the results will be ideally optimistic. As playwright George Bernard Shaw puts it, “Youth is the most precious thing in life; it is too bad it has to be wasted on young folks”(Shaw, 1931). We should most definitely approach our romantic relationships carefully with the right mindset and avoid excessive and extreme behaviors whenever possible.

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