If you’re a teenager, you’ve probably heard any number of annoying adults tell you not to take relationships too seriously when you’re young. How meaningful is that advice? Not very. Adults can say what they want, but they don’t walk in your shoes. They don’t know exactly what your life is like, or what it’s like to grow up in the generation you come from. Times change, and the truth is that adults often forget just how seriously they took their own crushes and relationships when they were teenagers.
As a psychologist, I know that relationships are important to everyone: teenagers, adults, and even the elderly. Everyone wants and needs to be loved, and the love that you get romantically is incredibly special. Cheating is a problem in teenage and grownup relationships, so the key for everyone is to figure out who the cheaters are before they cheat on you and break your heart! What are the signs of a teenage cheater?
Those who need a ton of attention
It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about guys or girls: Teens who cheat usually cheat because they love attention. When you see someone at school who everyone thinks is a hottie or who needs to be the center of attention as soon as they walk into a room, understand that this is someone who likes and needs attention. Dating someone who needs a lot of attention is risky because most people – teenagers or adults – who need a lot of attention are going to be more likely to cheat. Beware dating individuals who need to be the life of the party because people who always need a party are simply not as good at committing to one person.
Those who flirt with others in front of you
When you like someone, you are often inclined to overlook bad behaviors because you like the person and you don’t want to do anything to screw up the relationship. While I understand that feeling, I also know that it is distorted thinking. If someone flirts with others in front of you, you need to realize what a serious red flag this is. While it’s normal to find others attractive, it’s not normal to flirt with others in front of the person you’re with. If someone you like flirts with other people in front of you, excuse yourself from the situation for a minute, ask yourself how you feel, and make a mental note to deal with the problem the next day. Don’t be impulsive and create a big scene at the time, but wait until you have the chance to sleep on it and ask a friend the next day how to respond.
Those who act totally different when they’re with you alone versus with their friends
Even though I’m an adult, I wasn’t born yesterday. I remember how self-conscious everyone can be as teenagers. Certainly, when you like someone and you are also with your friends, it’s embarrassing to show just how much you like that person. In other words, it’s normal to be a little shy or cool when you’re with someone you like as well as your friends. But if you are dating someone you like and that person is one way with you but completely different when others are around – meaning, it’s as if you don’t exist! – that is a problem. This kind of person can turn their feelings off and on, and they can also do that in terms of who they’re interested in. Perhaps they like you one minute, but they are ready to move on to the next shiny thing the next week. You need to find someone who likes you when they’re by themselves and who likes you when they’re in a group. If you are interested in someone who completely changes how they are depending on whom they’re with, be careful. This kind of person has a personality that makes them more likely to cheat than others who are the same person in every situation.
Rules to remember
Relationships are challenging for everyone, including teenagers and adults. Focus your energy on investing in people who like you and treat you well, and you will be pleasantly rewarded with a relationship that is far more fulfilling than the one you’d have with a no-good cheater.