Certainly, the context in which we consider this emotion matters: I love to read; I love Chinese food; I love my mother. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists various definitions: “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person”; “attraction that includes sexual desire”; and “the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship.” But do any of these descriptions really answer our question?
I realize that many parents labor over if and when to allow their teen to begin dating.In fact, love is such an important construct that researchers have studied it for years, investigating the different types, taxonomies, and styles, as well as how to keep it once you’ve finally found that elusive and magical potion.But what I want to explore in this chapter is that transformation from the loving bonds we share with our parents and family to the passionate union we seek in a romantic partner, and which we seemingly need for survival as individuals and as a species. The word is tossed around, overused, misused, quoted, and commercialized so much that it’s difficult to determine what it really means.Romantic love is basically intimacy with the added bonus of sexual attraction and passionate commitment—the beautiful sexual icing on the delicious intimacy cake, if you will.Second, most researchers contend that, instead of anyone being replaced or made unimportant, as we get older and expand our social network, new targets of intimacy and affection are added to old ones. Not only does our concept and understanding of love shift from that which we feel for our parents, siblings, dogs, and so on to a richer and deeper feeling for another person outside our familial circle, but it also cumulatively adds to the concept of love that we began with. amazing, deep, fulfilling, complicated, exhausting...” You get the picture.If you have taught them about a proper relationship, then you should trust them to make their own decisions.Only intervene if you think the relationship is dangerous for your child.When it comes time to meet your teen’s date, be kind and respectful.While you may want to give a lecture on the rules; their date is not the one you should be talking to.It is your teen’s responsibility to know your rules and follow them.Also, while you may not like the person your child is dating, be supportive.