I have a young teenage cousin who just recently got her first boyfriend, and somehow it took that event to help me realize and articulate something that I’d been noticing in life and on Facebook, as we are all more and more in contact with people we knew from middle and high school.
Girls should not have long term boyfriends when they’re teenagers.
This is just my opinion of course, and when I mentioned this to my parents, who got married when my mom was 17, they were quick to point out how well it worked out for them, and this is true. But I think they’re the exception, and I also think that was a long time ago. These days, long term dating too early can lead to a life of feeling imprisoned by your deep and wonderful love.
I had two or three long term boyfriends in high school, and this is not at all in disrespect to them, but there’s just something weird about being so attached to another human at such a young age. I’ve met several high school students in the past few years who talk to me about how they’ve been dating the same person since the age of 12, and how they’re so strong because of how much they’ve been through together. It all sounds like some terrible Diane Lane movie.
Somehow, through watching adults or movies or something, we’ve learned that love is this thing that just happens to us, and we are powerless to control it or stop it. It happens despite despite the quality of our paramours, it becomes a burden rather than a joy, but you must endure any hardship that befalls your relationship because, well, it’s love. If love ends up meaning that you find your soulmate in 10th grade and stay together forever, well fine, we just throw up our hands and shrug at the power of it all.
This is how the most popular girls from high school end up with three kids by 30 and never go to college.
High school kids don’t even really get what love is- at least I didn’t. I thought it meant that I liked hanging out with a guy until they were so much a part of my daily routine that I should just go ahead and go everywhere with them. I wish that I had spent more time as a kid figuring out what I liked doing, what my interests were, instead of just being so excited to jump in and making compromises with some dude who was in a band as well as my 4th period class. I had no sense of the nuances of love, the respect, the passion, the give and take… and fuck, why would I? I was 16. Why would any 16 year old? Why are we so damned intent on playing house at such a young age until it turns into actual house?
Don’t get me wrong- I’m a big monogamy fan. I completely and totally believe in it and all its magic, I just think we shouldn’t rush to throw ourselves into monogamy so hard that we break our necks.
What I can’t figure out is how to get girls to want to limit how long they’re in relationships in high school. How do we teach girls that the thing they should be striving for as adults romantically is not the thing they should be striving for at a young age? How do we get girls to dump random dudes they’ve been attached to for too long without driving them together in some Romeo and Juliet-type drama?
Girls today should be thinking about all the places they want to visit, all the art projects they want to finish, all the guys they want to flirt with, all the films they want to make, all the bands they want to form, all the shitty poetry they want to write. When all that’s done, maybe grab a movie with a guy and make out with him, but don’t tie yourself down- you’re too busy catering to your own whims, why should you worry about someone else’s?
Being in a relationship doesn’t make you grownup, it just makes you… in a relationship.