If only we could be young again! Young and in love but with the knowledge we have now. Oh, to have that perspective! My first real relationship was quite a doozy, with a lot of mistakes made, so I am going to address this article to my younger self before I started dating boys. If you have not yet entered your first relationship, please read this to better prepare yourself for what is to come.
1. Only you can define yourself.
You are not defined by your boyfriend or girlfriend. A person needs to be confident of him or herself before entering any kind of serious relationship. You need to be happy with the person you are and the choices you make when you are alone. Do not depend on another person to make you feel good.
2. Never neglect your friends or family for the sake of a dating relationship.
A great way to ruin amazing friendships is to ditch your friends for a boy or girl. Believe you me! Your family and friends were there first. Don’t think you can ignore them and they will still be waiting around for you if your relationship fails. Make time for your other relationships as it’s good to have a wide network as opposed to only one person in your life.
3. You do not always live happily ever after.
Sadly, high school relationships statistically only last long term 2% of the time. This is hard to understand when you are young and your hormones are making you dizzy and sick with love. No one and nothing else could ever get in the way of your love! Ever! No matter how wonderful a relationship might seem, if you are too young to know what you want, it might not last.
4. Guard your heart, but not too much.
Since your first relationship might not last, it is best to guard yourself, at least a little. At the same time, you need to be able to open up in order to have a romantic relationship. Try your best to find this balance.
5. You might get hurt.
This is part of life and almost to be expected. When you open yourself up to another person, vulnerability occurs. This creates a close connection between two people, but it can also leave you open for a world of hurt. It is up to you how much of your heart you will risk for the relationship.
6. You deserve respect—from yourself and from your partner.
Determine boundaries beforehand. Decide for yourself what is acceptable in the way you are treated, both verbally and physically. Then tell your partner and stick to those boundaries. It is an awful thing to find out along the way that you have given up too much.
7. Your love cannot be the center of the universe.
Life is still happening around you. There are still decisions to be made, responsibilities such as homework, chores and/or a job. Do not forgo everything else in your life just to spend time with your boyfriend or girlfriend.
8. No one belongs to you, nor you to anyone else.
Being in a relationship does not mean you lose all sense of self. Have your own interests and friends. At the same time, realize your boyfriend or girlfriend needs to have his or her own hobbies and social groups as well. You should be able to spend time together, just not all of your waking moments.
9. You can never force someone to change.
This is one of the hardest lessons to learn (mainly for women—we seem to want to change our men). A person may act as though he or she is changing to make you happy, but it might not last long if the person doesn’t truly want to change.
10. It’s not like the movies.
Oh, Hollywood, how you trick the youth of the world with your gold-spun stories of love and romance! We are fooled into believing that finding romantic love is the greatest thing in life. Problems are supposed to melt away, there is no fighting and you drive off into the sunset, a complete person with your mate. Romance can be great, but keeping a relationship thriving is work. Be prepared to work if you truly want it to last.
11. Use this experience as a learning tool.
Sure, you might stay together and grow old with your first love, but if not, use your first relationship as a learning tool. What went wrong? What went right? How could you have communicated better? These are all things we learn from early relationships that help us in cultivating a better one down the road.
Don’t be frightened by this list. Love can truly be amazing. The thing is, you might not know how to deal with or even know about the negative possibilities when entering a first relationship. Learn from these things and be better prepared when you take that first step.
For those of you who are experienced in the relationship realm, any advice for the newbies?