The condemnation of high-school relationships is a common theme amongst individuals who are skeptical of the benefits of young love. I can hardly count the amount of times in the last few years that I’ve been online and seen someone questioning why people even bother dating in high school. I used to somewhat agree, because high-school relationships seem hopeless in many ways. High school kids don’t know what they want in a future partner, they aren’t able to take each other on proper dates or move to the next step in a relationship, (moving in together, getting married) and they are hardly mature enough to know how to treat another person. Looking at high school relationships from the outside can feel hopeless, as though there is no chance that a relationship between two young people has any merit. Personally, as someone who has dated throughout high school and has not been single for longer than three months since they were fourteen, I see many of the benefits of young love any would not change the experiences I had dating in high school. Considering my relationship history, the lessons I learned were extremely valuable to who I am today and the way I date as an adult.
My first love was long distance. I was thirteen when I fell in love with him, and I learned patience and dedication to another person. For the first time in my life, I put someone else’s needs and wants in front of my own, and learned to cope with the distance between myself and someone I loved. When he inevitably broke up with me to be with another girl, I learned for the first time how to cope with not getting something I wanted. The emotional pain lasted months, but I developed coping skills to prepare me for feelings of loss that I have experienced throughout my life- something I would not have learned without this experience.
My second love was when I was fourteen and it lasted two and a half years. There were times throughout those years where I did not want to be in a relationship, but chose to work harder to dedicate myself to my boyfriend and make it work. He taught me commitment and how to balance real life with a relationship. I made mistakes during the relationship, as did he, but I learned through my own mistakes that I had the power to truly hurt a person if I was thoughtless and careless. I learned thoughtfulness and respect for another person’s feelings over the course of two and a half years, and when he finally broke up with me, the breakup was nowhere near as bad as my previous one.
My third love was a rebound. I quickly became infatuated with a boy who I had known my whole life that paid a tiny bit of attention to me, and for the next three years, I fought for his affection. The three-year relationship started out shaky, and ended without a climax. As much as I liked him, he was unsure of what he wanted, but I remained convinced that I could make him love me the way I needed him to. I convinced myself that he never wanted to see me because he was too busy and tired and that it was okay, even though I hadn’t seen him more than twice in the last month. When I’d go visit him (he rarely came to see me- it was too much effort to leave his own house) he would play his games and watch television without paying attention to me, and I would convince myself that I wasn’t entertaining enough and that it was my fault that the person who claimed to love me did not want to spend time with me. This boy taught me selflessness and how to care for someone you love even when getting nothing in return. He showed me that no matter how much you do for a person, sometimes it’s just not enough and that that is okay. Most importantly, this boy taught me that it is okay to let go of a relationship that was not affecting me positively, even though it would cause someone pain. My third relationship taught me to value and prioritize myself, which is the hardest lesson I’ve learned so far.
Now, as a twenty-year-old woman, it is difficult to look back and regret my dating history. The experience I have gained and wisdom I’ve earned leaves me unconvinced that dating in high school is a bad thing. Looking back at the boys I’ve dated, I’m glad things didn’t work out between me and them, but I’m also grateful for how they have prepared me for the person I am meant to be with. I’m currently in another relationship and very much in love, but this time, it is different. I know how to be patient and dedicated to the person I’m with because of what I’ve already been through. I know not to be thoughtless and selfish because I can’t imagine hurting someone I love the way I did to my ex-boyfriend. I know how to care for a person and how to recognize when I am not cared enough, which reassures me that this relationship is positive. Seeing the good and bad qualities of the people I dated in high school proves to me how awesome of a person I’m with now, and without these “immature, high school relationships”, I may not value or know how to treat someone in my adult life. I’m grateful that now that I’m equipped to recognize how incredible my current boyfriend truly is, I also have the experience to treat him well and the knowledge to do everything in my power to make this relationship great. I’m sure that throughout this relationship I’m going to keep learning and growing. My high school relationships have prepared me for dating in my adult life in a way that only first-hand experience could, and if I could go back, I wouldn’t change a thing.