I’m a bit jealous of teenage love.
At no time in our lives do we experience that soul-shattering, heart-rending, head-first tumble into love. And out of love. Then back into love.
The differences between teenage and adult love are very few. Some parents tell their teen kids that it’s puppy love. That they’ll grow out of it. That they’re making a big deal out of nothing or—even the opposite—that they’re making a huge mistake.
That’s just ignorance or denial talking. Maybe you don’t want your kids to feel that same heartbreak, that same pain and loss. But, if you don’t experience those feelings, you probably also won’t experience the butterflies, the yearning, the excitement of first love. Of knowing that there are possibilities. A heart full of them.
I distinctly remember falling in and out of love as a teenager with great regularity, and I wouldn’t trade a single moment of it. With each rush of emotion, I learned. With each tear and with each laugh, I learned how to deal with my emotions and how to treasure a relationship.
My grandmother always told me to “play the field.” In those days, that term probably meant something far different than today’s terminology of being a “player.” My grandmother mistakenly thought that if I dated several boys that I wouldn’t lose my heart to any of them. Unfortunately, I lost my heart to all of them. Simultaneously. But that’s the amazing thing about teen love. Our hearts are open. We love with a passion that many adults will never see again. Because teens have…hope.
Hope that the relationship will work out. That the boy will never hurt us. That he won’t ever betray us with a trusted friend. That the positive will always far outweigh the negative. Who hasn’t written their first name with the boy’s last name a gazillion times on pieces of paper littering their bedroom floors? Hell, at one point, I wrote my name with the last name of three boys in one week.
As my daughters are nearing the age of that fearless excitement that comes with the teen years, I think back a lot to those times for me. And I think of them fondly. My daughters have heard all my stories, and they know the names of all my old boyfriends. We recently unearthed boxes of pictures, so now the names have faces. But, above all, I tell them that I lost my heart many times to many boys, but I physically held back. I never did more than park in a car for some kisses at the end of a date. I knew then that I wasn’t ready. I tell my girls that if the boys use the line, “If you love me, you would,” then he really doesn’t love you. And you can move on with no backward glances and no regrets.
As an adult, I’ve seen some of my friends going through separations and divorces, and with each end to a relationship, the bitterness and cynicism creeps in. The hope is long gone. The unguarded passion is withheld because their hearts can’t take any more pain. And that’s when I look at teens holding hands in a movie theater, and I envy them that. That hope. That excitement. That fearless tumble into love.
I wish adults could feel that same thing once again.
“Being fearless isn’t being 100% not fearful; it’s being terrified but you jump anyway…” – Taylor Swift
When have you been fearless in love as an adult or as a teen? And what did you learn from it?