On average, teenage relationships last between five months and two years, and the length of a teenage relationship depends on a number of factors.
The older a teen is, the more likely they are going to be able to sustain a longer relationship.
However, life factors such as moving away, changing schools, and social dynamics play as much a role in a teen’s love life as they do for adults of any age.
Reports show that approximately one-third of teens will date or be involved in a romantic relationship, even if it is short-lived.
There are a number of benefits for teens being involved in relationships, even if their parents or guardians prefer that they don’t.
Teens that are involved in relationships will learn relationship-building skills and conflict resolution skills that they can use later in life and will learn how conflicts occur and how to avoid them in the future.
Learn more about teens and dating here.
Table of Contents
Age is a significant predictor of the length of a teenage relationship. The younger a teen is, the shorter their relationship is likely to be.
Some research also indicates that the majority of teens do not date, but that approximately 35 percent of teens are dating or considering romantic relationships.
One study indicated that approximately 14 percent of teens said they were involved in a romantic experience that they considered being serious.
Another five percent said they had romance in their lives but that they did not consider it serious. An additional 16 percent said that they have dated but weren’t dating at the time of the poll.
In that same study, 64 percent of the teens that answered said they had never had a romantic relationship.
The 35 percent that had dated described their dating experiences as casual dating, hookups, and in some cases long-term relationships.
If the relationship lasted for longer than one year, it was described as a long-term relationship. Teens on average do enjoy dating when they can.
Many teens, perhaps even most teens, through the course of puberty and hormone development, become interested in dating and romance.
Not all teens date. Teens may become smitten with someone and have a crush that lasts for years. For many, the dream is to experience a long-term relationship, but it is a difficult one to attain.
Still, when a teen becomes a part of a long-term relationship, that relationship can last a lifetime. The term “high school sweetheart” is not just a cliché and happens frequently.
A teenage relationship builds in much the same way that an adult one does.
The stages of a teenage relationship are well-studied and documented and appear to be universal across research. The stages are as follows:
- Romantic feelings or crush
- Casual dating
- Dating the person all the time
- Making it official
- Conflicts and conflict resolution
- Continuation or dissolution
The friendship stage of a teen relationship is the stage where the teens meet.
This is when they decide as individuals that they like each other and would be interested in something more.
When that happens, they may already be spending time together, such as at school, in a social setting, through church experiences, or team experiences.
At first, they won’t make a point of spending more time together but rather will try to extend those periods.
Eventually, when romantic feelings are brought into the open, it may initially look like the teens are just wanting to spend more time together casually.
They might begin making plans outside of normal social experiences such as their school or team setting.
They may start making group plans with other friends, such as bowling or meeting at a cafe, when they first spend time together outside of their usual settings.
Then, as the relationship grows, the teens that want to date will want to meet more frequently.
Eventually, if both teens want it, the romance will be verbally acknowledged, and the teens will make it official.
How long the relationship lasts, and whether or not the relationships reach this point, is largely determined by age and whether or not the teens can sustain a relationship.
Some teens are simply not allowed to have romantic relationships, and this will play a role in how long their relationships last.
Shorter relationships may not have anything at all to do with relationship skills or romantic feelings and everything to do with parental interference in a relationship.
Typically, the younger a teen is, the less likely they are to sustain a romantic relationship for longer than a few months.
Dating begins around the time that puberty begins, and for both males and females, that age is between 12 and 14-years old. These are going to be the shortest teen relationships.
Most experts say that relationships for teens of this age are typically in the five-month range, when they are healthy people and working to nurture each other in love.
The greatest interference with these relationships is parental involvement and life commitments. It is simply harder for a twelve-year-old to keep a relationship going than it is for an adult.
They cannot pick up and go wherever they want when they want to, even their phones are monitored by their parents.
They also have life commitments such as schooling that they will prioritize, sometimes through no choice of their own.
Fifteen and sixteen-year-olds can sustain relationships that extend over the one-year mark, and they often do when this age group decides to date.
This age group is better at communicating with each other than younger teens are.
Parents often are less worried about teen dating at this age as well and will work with their teens to come up with arrangements and conversations that make relationship-building easier.
Teens that are dating long-term will also organize their social events such as church, team, and school activities with each other so that they can spend more time together.
Teens in this age group also have more freedom to date.
The age group of sixteen to eighteen-year-olds date longer than any other teenage bracket.
Although this age group can also have many short-term relationships, they are the most likely to have relationships that last longer than two years.
On average, these relationships last between 1.5 and 2.5 years.
In this age group, more teens are driving themselves where they need to go. They also have more freedom to socialize outside the home.
This age group also includes teens that don’t want long-term love but do date casually, more than any other age group. Many if not most teens are dating by this age.
Many parents, teachers, and guardians of teens aren’t keen on the idea of teens caring about dating. However, this is a socially constructed concept.
Teens being interested in dating is dictated by their physical development. Because of a change in their hormones, it is only natural that teens will be interested in dating.
Love, crushes, and romances happen naturally whether people want them to or not.
However, parents that work with their teens when it comes to relationships will see the benefits to their children in relationships, and even help them to sustain good relationships longer.
Romantic relationships teach teens about how to relate to other human beings.
Teens that work with their parents on these matters learn about conflict resolution with their parents and with their romantic partners.
Having someone around them who is supportive of their life’s goals, family relationships, and daily lives is integral to their functioning as a human. It helps them to grow.
Romantic relationships also help teens build confidence. This is true whether teens are in long relationships or short ones.
This is an important trait to have when teens are exploring school decisions, work decisions, and learning what intimacy means.
Confidence helps them to talk to their parents and peers more and to make healthier choices.
The expected length of a teen relationship is as unknown as it is for adults.
Generally, the younger a teen is the shorter their romance is likely to be, with 12-year-olds having romances that last up to five months and 18-year-olds having love that lasts longer than a year.
That does not mean teens can’t sustain romantic relationships. With the right support, they can be well equipped to handle a long-term relationship by the time they turn 15 or 16.
And there are certainly many benefits for them if they do.
When a teen engages in a long-term relationship, they develop conflict resolution skills, communication habits, and the confidence they need to make good decisions in their lives.
The length a teen stays in a relationship can be indicative of this confidence, even if the relationship does not last long.
A short relationship can indicate that a teen can recognize a problem and know how to walk away from it.
A long one can indicate they have problems with that recognition, but not always. How a teen handles relationships is more important to their overall health and well-being than how long the relationship lasts.