Shocker: Boys not heartless beasts!

A study finds that adolescent boys feel just as passionately about their romantic relationships as girls do.

Published August 31, 2006 12:00PM (EDT)

So it turns out that adolescent boys are not unfeeling brutes only looking to satisfy every passing hormonal urge. Preliminary results from a study of adolescent heterosexual relationships suggest that on the whole boys are just as smitten with their sweethearts as are girls, and, typically, girls are the ones holding the relationship's reins, Time magazine reports.

In hopes of exploring the importance of romantic relationships in adolescents' lives, researchers interviewed 1,316 boys and girls. Their findings ran so contrary to popular belief that the study's director, Peggy Giordano, a sociology professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, found herself questioning whether they were missing something. But, time after time, Giordano found her male and female subjects expressing the same kind of gut-wrenching, Shakespearean declarations of love. One boy tried to explain his feelings for his girlfriend, Jenny: "You think of it as this way: [Would] you give up your whole life, you know ... to save Jenny's life?"

This shouldn't be exactly jaw-dropping news for anyone who has spent time around googly-eyed teenagers or who can recall his or her own first love(s). But it is an excellent rejoinder to the mass media hysteria over predatory pubescent boys and, of course, the horrid teen sex cults that should shortly be cropping up all over the country as a result of over-the-counter Plan B access. As a fellow Broadsheeter jibed, "Shockingly, the kids aren't all emotionless sex zombies who go to rainbow parties! Who knew?" (Please, someone notify Oprah immediately.)

But along with the exciting news that science is once again refuting popular media myths come signs that boys have bought into them, too. Most adolescent boys may feel just as syrupy sweet about their relationships as do girls, but the study suggests that romance-inclined boys mistakenly think of themselves as an anomaly. "It's like a shared misunderstanding," Giordano told Time. "One of the boys said that he'd never talk to his friends this way, the way that he talked to the interviewer, because those boys don't have the feelings that he has."

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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