Talk about dysfunction.
For many young people, high school love is full of relationship firsts. You can probably think of a few yourself — first relationship, first kiss, first heartbreak or even the first time. However, we're betting you would've never guessed this first would ever be added to the list.
Researchers at the University of Maine performed a psychological study which brought to light a new first for kids in love, and it has nothing to do with magical moments. They found that early relationships can often reveal the first signs of depression.
According to the study published in the UMaine News, a young guy or girl who "excessively seeks reassurance in their romantic relationships" has a higher chance to develop depression later in life.
UMaine Doctoral Research Fellow, Jessica Fales, observed 110 young pairs aged 17 to 26 who had been in committed relationships, on average, for around 12 months. While both men and women seek this sort of approval from their partners about the same amount, women had far greater negative results.
The study indicated that this phenomenon — constantly wanting partners to show how much they really care — directly impacts these symptoms of depression. It's more than just a contributing factor of an unhealthy or dysfunctional relationship; the correlation is pretty exact.
"Greater excessive reassurance seeking, co-rumination, and poor romantic relationship quality each uniquely predicted depressive symptoms for young women," the report stated. Yikes.
So when does a simple wish for outward affection turn into an overzealous need for comfort? Fales is looking to make those blurred boundaries clearer.
"In younger children, it's normal for them to seek reassurance," she said. "We don't know where the unhealthy line is, but a starting point is when excessive reassurance seeking starts to annoy other people, to the point that they begin to withdraw from the relationship."
It's a tough set of facts to swallow, since it's highly doubtful youthful couples will be equipped to alter their ways without some help. But Fales thinks young women could change the course of their future if they learn healthier behaviors early on.
“These are behaviors and can be changed," she said. "They can more readily be targeted through intervention. For example, because we know that dwelling on negative topics or problems with others can lead to depressive symptoms, we can talk to young people about more active problem solving.”
If that happens, maybe we can keep those young relationships experiencing more of the happier firsts.