This book got me thinking about how to approach teen romance and about the shift in culture.
As writers, this concerns us because if we want to write romance streaks into our novels, we have to do it right. We must also consider the new patterns of dating in our time if we choose to write contemporary literature.
So, what do we have to keep in mind while writing for teenagers?
-Teens want to find their soul mate, someone unique who shares the same aspirations, while their parents only looked for a good. honest person to live the rest of their lives with.
-61% of teens have been in love.
-94% believe in true love.
-50% believe in love at first sight.
-60% of teens perceive a friend in love negatively. 46% of girls have been dumped for boyfriends and 32% of boys have been dumped for a girlfriend.
-61% of teens have been in a relationship.
-66% have had their heart broken.
-In 2014, people spent 7 hours /day in front of a screen. A lot of the dating is done online.
-Teen text on average 60 texts/day while driving, at school or as soon as they get up from bed or even while socializing.
-Teens typically ask someone on a date by text (58%), or on social media, but not face to face.
-Teens are terrified to ask someone on a date by phone because it’s considered too forward and it sounds like an emergency to them. It takes a greater caliber of a boy (confidence, courage) to pick up the phone or ask face to face. Kids have a lot of social anxiety.
-However, most of their romantic life, after the initial date, is on the phone.
-Many teens have two selves: the real-world self and the phone self. Both personalities can differ greatly. 77% of teens own a cellphone.
-Boys might text useless, nervous or without personality text banters that lead nowhere, but bad grammar or spelling makes boys look bad.
-Boys typically say “hang out” instead or “dating” which lack of clarity sounds confusing and frustrating.
-Teens use many acronyms to the point that texting may sound like a foreign language.
-selfies that are popular are: the look away, not smiling look for boys and the straightforward, shot down from an angle with a slightly coy look for girls.
- Teens play a texting/hard to get game: If you text back right away, you come off like a loser who has nothing going on. So if someone texts after 10 minutes, the other person texts after 20 minutes. The unspoken code says do not text unless you get an answer, and text as much as the other person.
-Kids pretend to be busy or give the cold shoulder when they’re not interested, but strangely enough expect honesty from the other person.
-24% of teens surveyed find it perfectly acceptable to break up with someone via text. Many break up through Facebook
-Boys rank honesty/trust, similar values and morals at the top for a long lasting relationship; girls rank: honesty/trust, friendship and mutual respect at the top.
-20% of teens have had a date their parents disapproved of. 40% have not told their parents they’re dating.
-60% plan to break up when they leave High School.
-1 out of 2 of teens state they have personally struggled with a mental illness (including depression).
-51% of teens are afraid of talking to their parents about personal problems.
-9% practice abstinence.
-1 in 5 high school girls is physically or sexually hurt by a dating partner.
-1 in 3 teens experience some kind of abuse in their romantic relationships.
-Many teens think violence is normal. 1 in 3 teens say they are text messaged 10, 20, 30 times an hour by a partner keeping tabs on them.
-22% of teen girls are sexting while 18% of boys do it. 1 of 3 of older teens have sent a sext. 60% of girl felt pressured to do it.
-1 in 2 teens who have been in a serious relationship says they've gone against their beliefs in order to please their partner.
-17% of sexters share the messages they receive with others, and 55% of those share them with more than one person.
-More than 11 million teens regularly view porn online.
-32.8% of 9th graders have had sex. Half of the 12th graders had sex, but the numbers are going down thanks to campaigns promoting abstinence.
-50% consider themselves heterosexuals.
Looking at all the statistics, one might wonder about the new face of dating in the last 30 years, and the effects of texting after the propagation of computers, tablets, and smartphones. What teens find normal might sound strange and very progressive to older writers. While writing novels where kids can recognize themselves, maybe we should take into consideration that about half the teenagers in the United States think violence is normal in a relationship and they don’t mind calling themselves heterosexuals. I think it is alarming to think that half the teens feel pressured to go against their beliefs in a relationship and 22% will have sex after substance abuse. Half struggle with depression of mental illnesses and a fair number of kids contemplate suicide, especially due to cyber bullying. It’s interesting to know that teens would do most of their courting online and they’re very awkward at it. They have a lot of social anxiety and would prefer break up online instead of face to face. At the same time, they’re driven by the desire to find they soul mate and passion, which probably spark a lot of disillusions and confusion. Finally, half of the teens disapprove of their friends dating. There’s a lot of unfulfilled desires going on and a lot of insecurity. Teens feel pressured. They expect high moral values, but are not good at reciprocating. The lack of communication and restrictions imposed by parents is not helping them finding a balance.
Ansari, Aziz. Modern Romance.
Dacus, Kaye. “Writing the Romance Novel: The Seven Story Beats.”
Hansen, Jenny. “Using the 12 stages of Physical Intimacy to Build Tension in Your Novel.” <https://jennyhansenauthor.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/using-the-12-stages-of-physical-intimacy-to-build-tension-in-your-novel/>
Hardwick, Mindy. “Plotting the Teen Romance.”
Howard, Linda. “12 Stages of Physical Intimacy.”
Mernit, Billy. “Writing the Romantic Comedy.”
Morris, Desmond. “Intimate Behavior: A Zoologist’s Classic Study of Human Intimacy.”
Statistics about Teenagers and High School Students.
Rautenback, Anneke. "5 Surprising Insights about 'Modern Romance."