(This article was edited on 17 July 2020 with the removal of a profile interviewee upon request)

The 7 brutal slash wounds on her left wrist are blatant memories of the number of times she had her heart broken.

Each wound represents the pain and hardship she had to go through in each of her 7 failed romances.

“This one was cut about 3 months ago when I found out that my boyfriend was cheating on me,” said Ferlynn Ong, gently caressing 1 of the slashes on her wrist.

Ferlynn is a 16-year-old student, and she already has had 7 ex-boyfriends, with each relationship lasting no longer than 5 months.

A Psychologist Tribune interviewed said that more teenagers are using self-mutilation as a method of dealing with failed relationships.

“Some teenagers in this generation handle emotional pain much more differently than teenagers in other generations. Some of them tend to be more emotionally distressed and choose to use extreme methods to cope with a failed relationship,” said Ms Ruth Kan, a youth programme manager at Focus on the Family.

She adds that there’s the prevalence of the number of youths employing extreme methods of coping with heartbreak. It also suggests that teenagers now expect more from a relationship.

New Media and Relationships

The Internet can also have a dampening effect on one’s love life, Ms Kan noted.

“Many youths, for example, use blogs to express their love for each other and with the Internet being widely accessible to the public, many people know that the couple is seeing each other,” she said, “Thus, if the couple splits up, others would hear about it and they might be prone to bullying when others laugh at them for failing in the relationship”.

She added that in previous generations, teenagers did not face the same problems.

The flip side of starting romantic relations at a younger age is that teens can be flippant and indifferent towards boygirl- relationship (BGR) , which perpetuates the emotional pain of their partners.

“As they don’t have a solid definition of love, they don’t understand the responsibilities of it, and they will not be so committed in a relationship,” said Ms Kan. “This is different from their parents’ generation where young people put more emphasis on long-term commitments.”

Being Internet-savvy also means that young Singaporeans have a lot more opportunities to engage in multiple relationships, with social networking websites and online communication tools providing opportunities to meet more potential partners and foster relationships with different people.

Too Young for Real Love?

“Most teenagers are looking for emotional affirmation, and have relationships to seek peer acceptance. They enjoy the feeling of being loved by another person, and they like getting accepted by their friends who also have romantic relationships,” said Ms Kan.

This prevalence of teenagers having relationships at a young age also results in more teenagers having sexual relationships before the age of consent at 16, unlike for previous generations.

In a survey conducted by Aoxiang Counselling Service in 2005 cited in The New Paper, 78 percent of teenagers aged 13 to 14 agree with premarital sex, with 27 percent of them stating that they have had sex before. An additional 7 in 10 teens said that sex is acceptable if precautions were taken.

“Teenagers usually have sex as they are looking for love for wrong reasons, especially teenage girls, desiring the feeling of love and exchanging sex for it,” said Ms Kan.

The current trend of youths having relationships at a younger age can result in a series of “uninformed and reckless decisions”, she said. According to the figures from the Historical Abortion Statistics of Singapore, Singapore has an abortion rate of 24.5 per 1,000. These are usually due to unwanted pregnancies among young people.

Ironically, Ms Kan added, with the immediacy of the Internet, coupled with the fast-paced society, teenagers now are growing up in fostering a climate of instant gratification. This has caused them to be increasingly impatient in nurturing matters of the heart with heartrending results.