Most of a child's friends are likely to be of the same gender.
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For more on romantic relationships and sexual experience, see Demographics: Sexual Health. Entering the world of relationships almost inevitably leads to the emotionally vulnerable experience of breaking up.
For youth who are more sensitive to rejection, breaking up can trigger a dive into self-doubt and despair.
Very young girls who date often come from families that are struggling, and may begin relationships already vulnerable to depression.
There is also some evidence that depression leads young girls to seek relationships.
In the pre- and early teen years, romance comes on the scene in the form of crushes, though there may be little contact with the object of infatuation.
Those in their early teens -- especially individuals with high social standing -- typically socialize outside of school in mixed-gender groups.
Young people value the support, trust, and closeness they experience in romantic relationships.
In fact, teens have more conflicts with their parents and peers than with romantic partners, though conflict within romantic relationships increases with age.
Sexual minority youth face hurdles in meeting potential partners.
While many adolescents meet their romantic partners in school, sexual minority youth are less likely to find these social circles at school, given the level of discrimination they experience as well as the small numbers of youth who have come out.
Relationships can support sexual development, an important part of growing to adulthood.