As it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d write something to mark the occasion. I’d like to make this an annual special – last year, both myself and my boyfriend wrote about how we met from each of our perspectives. This year, I’m going to talk about young love.
Now, I’m not really all that young anymore. I’m pretty sure at 23, being in a relationship wouldn’t come with the whole ‘young love’ tag. But I personally think your experiences with relationships when you are younger can shape your perceptions and that’s what I want to talk about today.
However, most of all, what I want to discuss is when young love turns into something more long-term. What happens when a bright spark of a relationship, which everyone around you figures will fizzle out, somehow lingers for years despite the odds.
I was a bit of a late bloomer in terms of love and relationships. In High School, I was a bit awkward and shy when it came to boys. I’d describe myself as a hopeless romantic at heart though – my nose was always in a book, so my perception of love was something so epic and extraordinary that I suppose the boys in my school just didn’t compare. While my friends had long-term boyfriends, break-ups and new flames I was just getting along by myself, without being overly bothered about it to be honest.
Things sort of changed after I got my first boyfriend in 5th year of High School. It didn’t last long, and it wasn’t exactly serious, but it gave me the confidence to start properly interacting with boys. It felt like now I’d already had one boyfriend, it wasn’t so scary to interact with others. That relationship had ended and I feel all that bad about it. I was a grown up now, right?
I feel like that time I can call ‘the before’ – because it was a time of innocence, when a break-up with a boyfriend wouldn’t cause intense heartbreak or trauma. It was a time when I didn’t know about the pain of unrequited love, or the obsession that comes along with new relationships.
My later experiences in High School were characterised with doomed crushes, kisses at house parties and a general feeling that I would never get another bloody boyfriend. It felt like everyone was in relationships in my final year of school – meanwhile me and 3 of my closest friends set up an actual Lonely Hearts Club. We would order Dominos very Valentines Day and bitch about all the messed up relationships our other friends had.
But do you know what? Looking back, I’m glad I was in the lonely hearts club and not a serious relationship. I had no ties, no real heartbreak to speak of. My life was drama free. Also, I just wasn’t ready at that point for anything serious relationship-wise. Of course, at the time, I did not feel this way!
Going into University, I felt entirely free. No one knew me here, I didn’t have the baggage of embarrassing previous encounters or the familiarity with boys who had seen me grow from a child to a young woman. Everything changed.
I feel like my first year of University was one of the pivotal moments in my life, in terms of relationships. I learned so much about love, boys and myself really during that year. There was some heartbreak, some healing and then just a lot of fun. I was still one of the only single people in my friends group, but now I wore it as a badge of honour. I was the fun one, the free one, I was Samantha Jones.
But then, of course, everything changed again. You know how people always say that you meet someone when you least expect it? Well that is true, in my experience. I met someone in my 2nd year of University, that has changed my whole life and my perceptions of what love is. You can read about how I met him in last year’s Valentine’s Day Special.
Now, it is at this point in my life that I truly experienced ‘young love’. Previously, I had only really experienced the stereotypical kinds of young love – infatuation, crushes, short-lived relationships. This time I was actually a young, 18 year old girl, who was in proper love with another person. And, my god, what a turbulent time it was.
But you see, that’s the thing about young love. It’s volatile, messy and obsessive but also just so powerful and all-encompassing. That transition from teenager, to young adult, to adult is such a tense time full of change. It’s no surprise that most relationships that form at a young age don’t last – we’re a mess of hormones and insecurity at that age.
However, you can possibly guess (due to last year’s Valentines Special at the very least) that my young love actually did last. Despite a few break-ups, 2 instances of extreme long-distance (kinda hard to do weekend trips to Hong Kong or Canada) and all the other mitigating factors in our lives, we are still together.
What I’d like to attribute this to is the fact that we accepted change as a couple. It’s never been a struggle to stay together; rather, it’s been a struggle to stay apart. Maybe that speaks to the unique connection we have, but I think it’s because we grew up together into adulthood instead of growing apart.
Why I say this, is because the love we had when we were those young 18/19 year olds in University is not the same love we have now. The volatility and obsession isn’t there anymore – instead of constantly wondering what each other is thinking or doing, now we just know. We know each other better than anyone, so that insecurity that often comes along with relationships just isn’t there anymore.
Of course, no relationships are easy. I’m not saying we’re perfect, far from it. But I guess what I’m trying to say in this post, is that young love can last. It won’t be the same, you don’t have that start-of-relationship excitement or the constant surprise of what the other will do next. But what replaces it is something far better, in my opinion, and that is real love.
So that was my rambling about young love, my formative experiences in relationships and a bit of a slushy ode to my boyfriend. Oh well, it is Valentine’s day after all.
I was inspired to write this post after absolutely devouring Dolly Alderton’s new book Everything I Know About Love. I could only ever dream of being as great a writer as Dolly, but reading about her formative experiences with relationships motivated me to write about my own. I’d highly recommend picking up her book – it’s the best thing I’ve read for a long time!