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Evolution cycles among children in romantic life Evolution cycles among children in romantic life
by Joseph Gatt
2020-07-10 07:24:54
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I'll discuss how children date in school settings and as young adults, taking three factors into consideration: knowledge factors, power factors and cultural factors.

The evolution of the romantic lives of children

Boys start developing romantic feelings around the age of 9, girls around the age of 11. Before that age, romance tends to be more of a “game” than anything involving emotions, longing and attachment to a particular person.

Between the ages of 9 and 15, depending on the context, children tend to be hesitant to get involved in romantic relationships. Mating often involves a lot of “body language” to test the waters.

Between the ages of 9 and 15, most boys and girls will play this game where they “stare” then look away when the other one is looking. Boys and girls often stick to their group of friends, and because of the nature and culture of the clique, the boys and girls rarely take the “forbidden step” where they interact with each other.

kidlov001_400That is boys and girls that age hesitate to bring other people, let alone a romantic partner into their clique. Boy cliques and girl cliques also tend to pressure each other not to introduce intruders to the clique.

Today, with social media, expressing interest in a partner has become somewhat easier, although social media at the school level is by no means a substitute to day-to-day school interactions. Boys and girls still interact at the school level, and mostly hang out in cliques of 4, 5, 6 or more boys and girls. Until around the age of 14, most cliques are exclusively male or exclusively female.

Boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 15 to sometimes “date” although dating is somewhat “dangerous” because the couple usually risks cutting themselves off their clique. Both boys and girls need their clique for solidarity and a feeling of belonging.

15 is usually the age when, in many cultures, dating becomes accepted. In wealthy, liberal nations, dating tends to be accepted. In conservative, developing nations, dating around that age tends to be frowned upon and repressed, and mostly takes place on social media.

Teenagers around the age of 15 usually spend a lot of time with the people they are dating. The older they grow, the less time they feel they should spend with their partner. Teenagers around the age of 15 usually feel like they should constantly be with their partner, and you'll notice them sitting together in class, eating meals together, spending as much time together as they can after school and on weekends, and spending lots of time on the phone and on social media together.

But, the need to constantly be with the partner tends to ease out around the ages of 16, 17, 18, and when couples form, both members of the couple will feel more of a need for independence. This is why 15 year old girls are often frustrated that their 17 year old boyfriend does not want to spend so much time with her. I happen to have had a good male friend of mine who was 15 and dated a 17 year-old girl, and she was pushed back by his need to constantly be with her, and she eventually dumped him for being “needy.”

Between the ages of 15 and 18, sexual intercourse is somewhat taboo within couples who date. Most couples will avoid the topic altogether, and both men and women tend to censor the topic. Some couples date for months or years avoiding the topic altogether.

That doesn't mean men and women always lose their virginity at 18. Some younger men date older women and lose their virginity at 15 or 16, while some women date older men and lose their virginity at 15 or 16. Cultural factors are also important, and some at some schools the local culture has it that teenagers lose their virginity at a much younger age.

Generally, around the world, the cycle goes like this:

-Ages 9-15: dating happens sometimes but is frowned upon.

-Ages 15-18: dating accepted in some cultures (frowned upon in others). Sexual intercourse frowned upon.

Now 18 is the age when most men and women lose their virginity. Many countries have rituals for this. In North America, many men and women like to lose their virginity on “Prom night” which is a ballroom of sorts to celebrate the end of high school and all men and women are expected to show up with a “date” and if possible “spend the night with the date.”

In Europe, many men and women go to nightclubs to celebrate their 18th birthday and challenge themselves to bring a date home for the night. In East Asia, where cultures tend to be more “collectivistic” groups of boys usually try to hook up their friends with women and encourage the newly formed couple to spend the night together. Sub-Saharan Africa has a similar ritual to East Asia, where a “gang” of boys will introduce a girl to their friend and encourage the couple to sleep together.

Islamic cultures and Hindu cultures however expect virginity to be maintained until marriage, and view pre-marital sex as something somewhat “deviant.” That is people do it indeed, but don't talk about it, don't brag about it, and hate it if you hint at it.

Now what happens to that “first partner”? In most cultures, the couple will at least give the relationship a shot at working. But as they enter adult life, adult life can be complex to navigate, boys and girls often have different ways to approach problems and to handle day-to-day life, and this is where knowledge and power come into play.

From ages 18 to 30, most couples will have a game (or war) that involves knowledge and power. Some rare couples define the relationship as an egalitarian, supportive one where knowledge and power is openly shared.

However, a lot of times men and women (or men and men or women and women) that form a couple will be negotiating the following: knowledge, and power. Often times women will keep information away from their partner to gain a power advantage, or men will hide information from their partner to gain a power advantage. Or they will tell lies to gain a power and knowledge advantage.

This game often lasts for a lifetime, but around age 40, or the mid-30s, most men and women will have accumulated enough knowledge about life and their surroundings to survive independently, and may lead independent lives from their partner without “breaking up” with their partner.

I'll finish with this on relationships: there are four or five reasons that cause divorce, and all involve a knowledge and power game:

-Absence (“disappearance”) of a partner: if a partner does not call, basically disappears, very often this is a power game. Because the partner who is staying at home does not have the information (or knowledge) on their spouse's whereabouts, the partner who stays at home is often helpless and does not know what to do. The partner who disappears however has a power advantage, as they can do as they wish, without partner or family constraints.

-Violence (physical, verbal, emotional) of a partner: this is another knowledge and power game. Violent partners often use violence because they want to prevent the partner from gaining access to information (such as checking a cell phone or asking questions about what they were doing on Friday night, or what happened to the money and so on). And use of violence gives the partner a power advantage, as in “I can do whatever I want and if you force me to do anything I will become violent.”

-Family drama: a couple is often a game of politics where family and friends can get involved to defend one partner or the other. This is where the mother-in-law jokes all come from, as in the mother-in-law being the guardian of her son (or daughter)'s power, when the other partner would otherwise have snatched power. Family drama can complicate the knowledge and power game.

-”Personality differences.” Finally, personality differences are often cited in divorces and separations, but what is really meant by that is different perceptions of what knowledge and power-sharing should be. The man might consider it “normal” not to share a lot of information and to be in command, while the woman might have a more egalitarian perception of knowledge and power-sharing.

-Financial issues or adultery: of course, “cheating” or “bad financial management” are often cited in divorce files, but those usually involve “bad information sharing” and “power distribution problems” in one form or the other. Couples rarely divorce for mutually consented bad financial decisions, they usually divorce when one partner takes unilateral financial decisions, and the decision turns out being bad. As for cheating, although the emotional pain tends to be very big, most men and women tend to stay in the marriage or relationship if they are convinced it was a “mistake” and if power and knowledge sharing is done in egalitarian ways.

Let me conclude with a couple of thoughts on feminism.

-One school of feminism goes like this: “women and men should share knowledge and power equally.” That is in many societies men are expected to be the guardians of knowledge and power, and women are expected to blindly follow men without access to knowledge and power.” And in those cultures, feminism tends to be a response to that. 

-The other school of feminism goes like this: “women should have “exclusive” or “privileged” access to knowledge and power because they are the ones who bare the children, and men should be in an inferior power and knowledge position because they are not the ones giving birth.”


   
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