Just Say No to Love

Man holding red felt heart

Researchers from eight different countries recently collaborated on an article published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, which warned about the dangers of teens falling in love. But it’s hard to take seriously the concern that “[t]hose adolescents who have not been in love had significantly lower odds for substance use than all other youth.”

It’s not that this statement is way off base — coming of age and intimate relationships are a tumultuous time, particularly for sexual minority youth who are the focus of this article. But the perspective leads to all sorts of ridiculous conclusions. In fact, after seeming to find “that never having been in love is protective against substance use” the authors conclude that “[t]argeted policy actions are needed to reduce risk.” They avoid reminding the reader that the risks they want to reduce are self-reported feelings of love.

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Adrian Devitt-Lee, Project CBD's chief science writer, is pursuing his PhD in Mathematics at the University College of London.