13 Things I Would Tell My 15-Year-Old-Self About Dating

If I could magically go back in time and have a conversation with my 15-year-old-self, these are the 13 things I would make sure that she knew:

1. It’s not forever. People will tell you that you’re too young to be in love. They are wrong. You will fall in love. Hard. So hard that you will believe you are supposed to stay together forever. Some people stay with their high school sweethearts and get married and have babies and everything’s wonderful, but the truth is that the first person you fall in love with is most likely not the person you want to spend your whole, entire life with. And unless you are part of a very small percent of the population, you will be incredibly thankful for this. Give yourself time to date lots of people. Figure out what you want in a partner and save the “through sickness and health, till death do us part” until you’re older.

2. Be your own person, not part of a couple. Figure out who you are. Listen to the kinds of music that you like. Read the books you want to read. Try new things and keep discovering what makes you the wonderfully weird person that you are. Don’t create your identity on a foundation of someone else. Relationships do not define you. They can be a great way to connect with another person and share similar interests, but make up your own mind and be your own person.

3. Don’t give up things for relationships.  If you want to play a sport, join the band, be in a club, go to the movies, hang out with friends, take a trip to visit your family, DO IT. Even if it means less time to spend with your boyfriend or girlfriend. If the relationship was meant to be, it will work out even if you put other things first. Years from now, you will regret the things you didn’t do, not the times you missed out on something to hang out with a boy (or girl) you probably don’t even talk to anymore.

4. Relationships aren’t about saving people.  There are two very important sides to this. First, stop thinking of a relationship as something that will save you. Yes, the idea of someone sweeping you off your feet and rescuing you from the demons you battle sounds romantic. It’s glorified in movies and tv shows and books, but in reality this belief will keep you trapped. The truth is that you either save yourself, or you remain unsaved.

Second, it is not your responsibilty to save anyone else. Again, it seems romantic in theory. When you fall in love with someone you want to be there for them and make them happy. It is great to support someone you love, but it is not your responsibility to save your boyfriend or girlfriend from their problems.

5. Romeo and Juliet is not a good love story. In the end, they both end up dead.

6. The time you waste being unhappy is time you will never get back. I know you think you are supposed to be tough and stick it out through the bad times. You don’t want to give up on something or feel like a quitter and you are afraid that saying you deserve better means that you are selfish. Stop thinking like this! Bottom line: life is too damn short to be unhappy. Fight for happiness. Let go of things that make you upset. Don’t spend time with people that make you feel bad about yourself. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Trust me, a year from now won’t regret leaving something that made you unhappy, you’ll wish you’d left it sooner.

7. Sex doesn’t equal Love. If someone loves you, they will wait until you are ready to have sex. You do not need to have sex with someone to prove to them that you love them. Sex does not fix broken relationships. It does not make people fall in love. It can bring two people closer together if the timing and situation is right and there is mutual trust and understanding, but sex can also fuck you up. If you feel pressure to have sex, remember that you have the right to say no. If someone pressures you, or forces you to do anything that you are not comfortable with, it is abuse. Sex also brings with it an incredible amount of stress as a teenager. Make sure that you have all the information possible about birth control, risks, STDS, etc. and make a decision about whether you are ready to have sex before you are in the heat of the moment.

8.When people show you who they really are, believe them the first time. Cheaters will continue to cheat. Liars will continue to lie. Abusers will continue to abuse. I know you want to believe that people can change, but in time you will learn that unless someone works hard, often with a professional therapist or counselor, for a long period of time, people only change for time periods and then they fall back into the same habits.

9. Friends give horrible advice. 

10.Your parents are on your side. I know it feels like they are against you and that they are trying to ruin your life, but they are actually trying to help. They have been where you are right now. They’ve gone through a lot of the same things, and in the end they just want to keep you safe and protect you. (With the exception of abusive parents)

11. There is nothing wrong with you. Just like anything else in life, you are learning a lot of things for the first time. You might think that your friends have everything figured out, but they don’t. They’re pretending, just like you. Don’t compare yourself to other people. You don’t know what their truth is. Most of the time, you only see their mask. And don’t be afraid to be different. Embrace it. Own it. Fight for it. Never give it up, because without it, you’re a bore.

12. Speak up! It’s better to be feel uncomfortable for a few moments, or to offend someone, than it is to deal with the consequences of staying quiet.

13. The best is yet to come. High school is not the best years of your life, so take off the pressure of thinking it has to be. There are far, far better things ahead. There are places to travel. Cities to explore. Jobs to work. Stories to tell. People to date. I know you feel old and experienced right now, but you have no idea how many adventures are ahead of you. No matter how bad things get, they will get better. No matter how alone you feel, you never are. Your new boyfriend? He’s amazing. But more importantly, the obstacles you overcome will help you to grow into a stronger and wiser person.

2 Comments

  1. As a guy, not an abuser or psycho (speaking of which, how did I get here?), I do think a lot of the advice you would give to your younger self is pretty good.
    Here are a few things I would also tell younger girls about dating:

    1) Women will give bad advice about men, but men will give worse advice about other men 90% of the time. People are people, and the best way to figure someone out is to be smart and talk to them.

    2) Texting is nonsense, good only for emergency situations really, or knowing where a person is and if they’re safe- but women love it. Some men like and dislike constant texting, but if fights come up or disagreements come from texting- just know that you’re, well, texting about it. Serious matters are better left to being discussed in person.

    3) Men have motives. Even the most platonic men you consider friends, even the ‘gay ones’, any man really who spends a lot of time with you that isn’t your boyfriend/ husband/ fiancee/ whatever- has a motive as well. Be especially wary of men who say things like “you’re the only one I can trust”, or brag about themselves a lot around you.

    4) Sex complicates things. It can be beautiful, sure, but no matter what, it will always complicate things- especially for young people. Women in particular are bad about giving it away early or being too ‘easy’, and these are not desirable traits to the good ones. The key is to wait, wait as long as you can. The man you give it to will have a link to you the rest of your life, and no matter how much you tell yourself you want that link- step back and really look at that person first. Actually, if there’s a part of you that’s unsure, no matter how small, go with that feeling. It’ll never let you down.

    5) If a man has a reputation for being a ‘man about town’ or ‘having issues’, please don’t try to fix him unless he wants to fix himself. You’ll never win.

    6) Be careful with older men who have power over you, like a boss or a superior at your job. If they say things that make you uncomfortable, or make passes at you, the best thing you can do is shut them down as soon as possible. If it continues to happen and it really bothers you, report him. If that doesn’t work and it’s making you miserable, leave. By listening to this person, or even just fake laughing at their comments, you are unwittingly encouraging their advancements. Never except money from these people either.

    7) When it comes to arguments, be reasonable. Assess the situation you’re in critically and dispassionately. Know when you’re given ‘the last word’. Good men always try to give women ‘the last word’ in a discussion. If we do this, it’s a clue that we really don’t want to argue anymore and that everything’s fine.

    8) If you hear the words “You’re my new addiction”, or you get the impression you’re being a substitute for something else to the person you’re with, that’s a big red flag.

    9) Your ideal partner may look nothing at all like your ‘preference’. Women tend to have the best luck when a man half looks the part and 80% acts the part.

    10) Be careful, very careful about having sex unprotected, or even on the pill. Don’t tell yourself ‘it’s okay just this one time’, or because of your period.

    11) This is especially important if you are a young girl. If you haven’t had an orgasm, alone or with your partner, don’t be frightened or worried. This happens to a huge percentage of women for varying reasons, but the biggest of which is mental. There’s nothing wrong with you if you don’t orgasm initially, and don’t let this drive you away from a partner either. Just focus on enjoying your partner, de-stressing, and feeling good- let your partner know what works and doesn’t work, and it’ll happen for you if it hasn’t happened yet. Some people take longer than others. There isn’t anything wrong with that.

    12) Don’t give up things for relationships, as the author stated above. Men do worry about things though, particularly if they’re not invited. Just be aware of what you’re doing and what it could look like. Observe the Golden Rule- treat them like you would want to be treated yourself. If you’re riding alone in a car with a guy friend late at night, would you worry about your partner being with a girl friend alone in a car at night? It helps men when you’re descriptive about what you’re doing and with who. You can avoid bad situations if you’re open and clear about what you’re doing. If you’re doing all of the above, and still your partner seems to make you feel guilty about spending time with someone else as opposed to them, then talk to them. If this persists and it’s clear your partner’s mentality hasn’t changed- they clearly have a dependent, jealous, or possessive personality. But again, make an effort to be reasonable about spending time with others, especially with other guys exclusively.

    I happen to be engaged to a young woman, and these are a few things I’ve heard her mention on occasion, mixed in with what i would generally tell most younger people about dating, both boys and girls.

    Reply
  2. I really appreciate having this list and I want so much to share it but alas I will not. Let they language you use welcome all readers, not limit your audience. The F word is never the right word, it’s easy and immature, it’s vague, it’s crude, but it never wins out over one of the thousands of beautiful words that makes precision just one hallmark the English Language. One F word is kind of like one piece of mouse dropping floating in the pot, no matter how much soup there is, who would eat it?

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.