Relationships In Your Teens vs Relationships In Your Twenties.
This is not a social comment on the nature of relationships in our teens vs the ones we have in our twenties. On the contrary, one of my teen relationships ended up being my twenties relationship too. No, this is more a social commentary on starting your relationship in your teens vs starting one in your twenties.
There is no doubt relationships are different in nature from the ones you have in your teens to the ones you have in your twenties or later. For a start in your twenties you're likely to know yourself better, likely to have experienced more that shapes what you're after, likely to have been in failed relationships before. In your teens it's likely your first relationship, it's ALL encompassing and there's a lot of fuckery I feel like little of us would put up with in our adult years.
But for some of us, our teen relationships might end up being our adult relationships too. For some of us the people we dated in high school might end up being the people we date in our twenties, maybe even the people we end up married to. Joss and I have been together 7 and a half years now from the ripe old age of 17.
Here's a few thoughts I've been having lately on starting relationships in your teens vs your twenties.
The constant comment on your relationship status;
If you start a relationship in your teens you're constantly told "it won't last", "you don't know what love is", "you haven't experienced the world", "it's not the be all and end all", "it's not like you'll stay together forever".
Except what if you DO stay with them into your adult years? What if you DO stay together forever? Does that mean you still haven't experienced the world? Or did you experience it with someone by your side? Does that mean you didn't know what love was when you were 18? Or does it mean by the time you're 25 you've come to appreciate a solid kind of love through shared experience?
If you do stay together through school, maybe it's been a year or two now then you're constantly told of the pressures of university on a relationship. "It never lasts through uni mind", "long distance never works", "they'll only get jealous when you're on a night out though", "you should be single in uni, enjoy the lifestyle".
Except what if you DO stay together through uni? What if you DO enjoy the uni lifestyle? Who said having a boyfriend or girlfriend miles away meant you couldn't live a life of your own? What if the experience of being 5 hours apart meant coming back together was all the nicer? Or you felt you had the room to grow as a person but the security of having someone on the end of the phone when you needed reassurance?
So you've lasted 5 years or so and seen each other through graduation and jobs and maybe a house move and now you're constantly asked "when's it your turn then?", "when's he going to pop the question?", "you want to get a move on".
When did it become ok to comment on someone's relationship status? It's always been the assumption the next stage is marriage and babies but what if you don't want that? Or what if you do want that but want to do it on your own terms in your own time? What if you want to get married but don't have the money for somewhere to live together let alone a big fancy do?
The commentary is real and it is constant.
Everything moves quicker the older you get;
When you get together in your teens I feel like you take things at a slower pace. Ok sure when you're 17 you throw yourself into your relationship and everyone says you're too young to do XYZ together but when you're in your twenties things level themselves out.
It was 5 and a half years before Joss and I left uni and I moved into his parents house and 6 and a half before we moved in together on our own. Most people I know who've got together in their twenties move in within 6 months to a year.
By the time Joss and I get married (no we're not even engaged) we'll probably have been together 10 years. Most people I know who've got together in their twenties are engaged in 2 and married in 4.
When you're in your twenties you're an adult, you're earning your own cash, likely have your own space and there's very little in the way of being told what to do. When you're in your twenties if you're in a relationship there's a likelihood that you're in it for the long haul because kinda what's the point pursuing it if you're not? When you're in your twenties the next step in all serious relationships is house, engagement, marriage, kids because that's what society has paved for us.
If you wanted to do any of those things in the same time scale in your teens you'd have been laughed out of the room. Moved in in 6 months? I'd have just turned 18 and still be in school. Engaged in 2 years? I'd have been starting my first year of uni 5 hours away from him. Married in 4? I'd have just graduated. I'd probably be on to my third baby by now.
Everything is so much slower when you get together in your teens because you'd simply never have been allowed to make those life choices because "what if you don't stay together".
You do everything 'late';
I can't even tell you how many engagements I've seen announced from people in my year at school in the last 18 months. There's kids galore, weddings here there and everywhere and everyone lives with their partner. Heck, my younger brother is engaged with a house a and a 2 and a half year old.
Even though I know we're not engaged or married out of choice, every single announcement I see with a sparkly ring from people who've been together half the time we have makes my heart stop a little bit with 'the fear'. The fear that we're doing it too late, we're leaving it too late, we've left it too late to get our lives started. The constant rhetoric of 'it'll be you next' when we know full well it won't be, the 'I thought you'd have been engaged ages ago'....the fear of doing it all too late is poignant.
And then I remember we've been together when we were 17 and at best if we followed the pack we'd only be doing it now because we're 'about that age'. I didn't want to be engaged without living together. Now we do I don't want to get married with a wedding I can't pay for. I don't want a long engagement, nothing will change for us, we know we're staying together so where's the fear coming from anyway?
It comes from other people's notions of "I thought you'd have the job done by now" when they were the ones telling you "you won't last through uni anyway though love".
It makes YOU judgemental;
I have a few friends who have been in relationships since they were 16/17/18 and I can't even tell you the amount of times we've bitched over 'can you believe they moved in together after 6 months?' or 'they got engaged? Never going to make it to the alter'.
Being in a relationship from your teens makes you judgemental to those who start relationships in their twenties - because you think they're doing it all too quickly. Because you've been together 8+ years and still aren't married you scorn those who do it after 4 because why are they even jumping the gun like that? You titter at those who move in together after a year because you know the adjustment it takes to live with someone and you were together 6 years before you did it.
The fear of leaving everything 'too late' is banished when you think 'god they're moving fast aren't they?' You forget that people move quicker than you did because you were a child living with your parents and they're twenty three and know what they're looking for. You forget that people move quicker than you did because you were flat ass broke as a student and society is telling them they need to get a move on before all their reproductive organs shrivel up.
You very quickly forget how much you hate having your relationship judged and commented on when you're busy judging and commenting on someone else's.
So what's the big difference really?
Sure, some of us got together in our teens and we've taken everything at a slower pace and might have been together a decade before we tie the knot. Some others of us might have got together in our twenties and be happily married with twins on the way.
At this point in our lives I think we're all pretty much at the same stage, we just got there at different speeds - and who's place really is it to judge us?