This is a blog post I wrote to prepare for a chat in a future ASMR video based on questions and topics my audience wanted to know my thoughts about. Let me know down below what other topics you would like for me to talk or write about in the future.
I have not witnessed this happening very often – but there is a couple very close to me in their 40s that have been together since high school. They’ve had to go through quite a lot but they have a very deep and meaningful relationship. They haven’t gotten the chance to “play the field” but what they have is really beautiful and worth more than that sort of opportunity in the end. There is something really special about growing up together, sharing family so closely, sharing friends, and really knowing each other in a way that so few people get to know each other.
It’s amazing when it happens, but it hardly ever works out that way.
The feelings of love, lust, infatuation, crush, delirium, obsession -etc. you feel when you’re a teenager will never be exactly the same as the years pass – and there are biological reasons for this.
Personally I’m grateful I’m not with anyone I dated or crushed on in highschool, but I’m really happy with some of those nostalgic memories of being “in love.” The intensity and hurt those emotions caused fades over time (I suffered a lot with my intense feelings about boys and some girls at that age) but some of the memories are pleasant to recall. It wasn’t true love. Love isn’t just a feeling – it’s behavior, it’s commitment, it’s getting to know the full complexity of a person, not just the fantasy of them, and being vulnerable together. It’s weathering storms together. The feelings I felt towards people in high school were just the result of my body’s response to encounterng other people who exhibited traits that on the surface might be nice to bring into my family. That’s what sex and desire is: the biological urge to be a part of a family unit – whether that’s just you, or involves kids or not, regardless of gender. It’s an intense reaction to perceived traits but these types of connections are fleeting and not stable. It’s not until you truly get to know a person that you understand what they really have to offer and whether or not your truly want them as part of your personal “tribe.”
Your brain isn’t fully developed until you’re about 25. Your hormonal changes from childhood to adulthood are intense and affect your moods, your behavior, and how you see the world in a profound way. It can feel like you know everything and have infinite potential one minute, and that you are worthless and helpless the next. Love can feel like the most important thing in the world, or at least the illusion of love you’re feeling right now. When someone rejects you socially or romantically it will probably never feel worse than when you are a teenager. You can let these experience make you grow bitter, or you can learn from them.
Normal development floods us with chemical, physical changes that shape us, brain changes, etc. but true maturity and growth comes from personal work we have to do ourselves. You can live to be 120 years old and still never emotionally mature as a person – and that usually leaves a lot of heartache for yourself and others.
Because your brain isn’t done developing and your education from both school and life is still very limited in high school – your sense of self, your likes and dislikes, even your belief systems can wildly change in the next few decades. In many ways you become a completely different person and so will your highschool partner.
This doesn’t mean it can’t work out – but it does mean you’d have to learn and grow together. Life hits you with huge obstacles – often out of nowhere and this will test any relationship, especially ones that start so young.
The initial physical passion felt in ANY relationship does grow calm with time. Part of the “spark” of love comes from the dopamine rush of getting to know someone new. As you get familiar with a person, our brains are wired to feel more comfort than intense passion. Spending some time apart can reignite some of this flame, but this is a general truth about most longterm relationships. Having emotional maturity helps us understand and even appreciate this normal relationship cycle. Being younger makes us less likely to stick out relationship changes like this and often one party, or both, might want to leave a stable, longterm relationship to seek out that rush of becoming infatuated with someone new.
Many people even get addicted to this – not just the sex- but the early emotional stages of a new relationship and jump from one relationship to then next to seek these chemical rushes.
Other things like job changes, mental health problems, trauma, addiction, infidelity, infertility, changing belief systems, changing goals, illness, death in the family, financial situation changes (both less money AND more money can put strains on relationships,) and becoming parents offer up new challenges and stresses to a relationship that it may not be able to survive.
If your highschool or college romance doesn’t work out, it’s ok. It’s completely normal. It doesn’t mean that love is dead. Love, like happiness, is often sensationalized, distorted, and misunderstood. Breakups can lead to major breakthroughs in your life, but they can be devastating. They are very much a loss similar to a death because you usually end up losing either complete contact or, at the very least, the intimacy and attention of the person who was once closest to you. No matter what happens don’t count your romantic and/or sexual experiences as a loss: see them as a learning experience to learn about yourself and learn about others.
Try to understand what you want and truly need from an intimate relationship but also study what someone else may be looking for. Don’t sacrifice your own happiness for someone else, but try to understand them. Many times we hurt others because we are still hurt from something in childhood or a past romantic experience that we haven’t dealt with. When we don’t heal these hurts, they come out in ways we don’t always expect. Too often we lash out at someone close to us because we are angry about something else that we have no control over.
When you are in a committed relationship very young you are both trying to figure out how to be who you are, and that’s a wonderful thing whether you are together 2 months or 80 years. Sometimes you will be entirely devoted to this relationship and the other person either “falls out of love” or makes a personal choice to end things because of things like college or other opportunities. Sometimes you may reconnect, but oftentimes life will lead you down different paths.
Life is never easy and life with someone else is never easy, no matter what age you are. Sometimes it’s more than worth it to stick by someone’s side no matter what but other times the healthiest decision in life is to let someone go.