What I Learned From Dating in High School

High school relationships are weird things. They’re super temporary, and you know that, but for some reason at the time they feel like everything. You’re kind of at an awkward age too where you’re just beginning to figure out who you are and what you want. You have no idea what lies ahead so you take things one step at a time and just go with the flow. Someone asked me recently about my relationships in high school and it got me thinking… what did I learn from those experiences? How did I come out of crappy breakups alive? How can I have so many memories with someone who is now a total stranger? I’m certainly no expert, I’ve really only been in 2 legitimate relationships, but reflecting upon my experiences in the last four years gave me a list of 11 things I learned from dating in high school. 

You will most likely not find your soulmate.

This is an obvious one, but it’s crazy how many people fall into this trap. It’s easy to think that you have met the one, but  you most likely haven’t. So don’t make them you’re everything quite yet. Make sure to plan for a future without them, because chances are very slim that you will end up together forever.

Love is a personal definition.

Somebody once told me that she believed teenagers are incapable of love because they’re too young and haven’t fully lived life yet. I thought this was true for a while. And then I fell in love. I know it sounds stupid that I fell in love at 17, but I’ve learned that love is something only you can define yourself. You can’t take someone else’s definition and apply it to your relationship. There’s no equation like “if I get butterflies every time I see them and we’ve been dating for X amount of time and I want to spend every waking moment with them we must be in love”. It’s just something you feel, and you know when you feel it. You may feel it at 17. Or you may not feel it until you’re 30. But there is no standard definition for everyone and you can’t adhere to any rules surrounding it.

Take full advantage of being able to do cool things with your best friend.

Dating in high school is awesome because you have little to no responsibilities yet. I mean yeah, you definitely do have some responsibilities, but you’re still young. You have the flexibility take an impromptu day trip to go hiking together or the time to binge watch your favorite shows. You have this incredible person that you enjoy spending time with, so take advantage of it. Go on adventures together. Try something weird you’ve always wanted to try. I know it’s cliché, but you really are only young once. You’re only going to have these kinds of relationships for so long before you have to worry about settling down and planning for the future.

You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.

If you don’t want to date someone, you don’t have to date them. If you’re dating someone and they want you to do something you don’t want to do, you don’t have to do it. Even if you’ve been dating for years. You are still in charge of yourself no matter how important your significant other’s opinion is.

You still have a lot of life to live.

There are so many things coming up that you have NO idea about. You may travel the world, or go to college, or get a Master’s degree, or start your own business. Through all of these things, you will learn so much about life and what you want from it. In high school, you have only lived (hopefully) not even a quarter of your life. You’re young and ignorant, and that’s alright. Just remember the good things yet to come and if things don’t work out as planned, things will be okay. There are much bigger and better things that lie ahead.

Just beware that you will ruin friendships.

WARNING: DO NOT DATE YOUR BEST FRIEND. Okay, the wound may still be fresh on this one for me, but just don’t do it. Trust me. You will not be friends with your ex, no matter how much you want to. It’s just not possible. They will go from knowing everything about you (think: your flaws, what makes you laugh, what makes you angry, your pet peeves, etc.) to being a total stranger. So make sure your friendship is one worth taking the risk for because once they’re gone, you won’t get them back.

Parents know best.

If your parents think that your boyfriend/girlfriend is an absolute asshole, dump them right now. Like I mentioned before, parents have gone through those radical life experiences. They know how to read people and they only want what’s best for you. So just trust them on this one. They’ve been through it. Also, since you’re here on this Earth, they (hopefully) were in love at least once in their life. They know what they’re talking about.

Nobody has to “wear the pants”.

This one is really hard for me. I’m a control freak and I like to be in charge. However, in a relationship between two people, it’s about compromise. Not one person can be in charge all the time. It’s very hard for me to trust and put things in someone else’s hands, and that’s something I’ve learned (the hard way) to deal with in order to have a functional relationship.

You cannot change people.

Girls, no matter what kind of magical powers you think you have, that player will always be a player. But seriously, you can’t change people. So if you don’t like something about them, tolerate it. Or just don’t date them. You can’t have this mold you expect someone to fit into that they simply don’t.

Be yourself.

Going off of that, don’t let anyone change you. You are unique and special and someone in the world is going to fall in love with you. Nobody is worth changing who you are and what you stand for.

You will learn the hard way which personality traits you want in your future partner and which ones you don’t.

You will probably date someone that you’re completely incompatible with. I definitely did. I was infatuated with a guy that, in retrospect, was nothing like the kind of person I want to spend my time with. In the moment, you will be blind to this. Honestly, I didn’t realize it until a year or two later. But eventually, you learn what you like and don’t like in people and eventually you won’t settle. It’s all a learning process.

I promise you I’m no relationship expert. I, too, have yet to live a lot of my life. But dating in high school is just one of those experiences I had that I learned something (or a lot of things) from.

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