Loving someone as a teenager and as an adult

July 09, 2017

Same school, different stage in life.

When you're young, you give everything you have and love recklessly because you don't know how it feels like to have your hopes crushed and your heart shattered. You only learn after several heartbreaks that the love you can give is limited. Stepping into society gives you more to worry about and love gets more complicated. If there's something I learn about growing up, it's that you gain new perspective towards things as you enter different stages of life, causing these the differences between loving someone as a teenage student and as a working adult.

Falling in love

You don't need a special reason to have a crush on someone. Your crush can be, and usually is, the captain of your school's basketball team, your table partner or someone you've been texting a lot. You look up to him or enjoy his company rather than love him. Your feelings for him are more of adoration than anything else.

Just because you have a crush on him doesn't mean you die die must have him. You don't really know how to chase a guy or attract a guy either — simply bumping into him on school grounds or watching him smile is enough to make your day.

You're falling in love? Good luck battling yourself internally as you struggle to not let your past experiences shape your current relationship. Will you stick to society's norm and let the guy chase you or take the initiative? Which will the guy prefer? Wait, why do you care? Can't you just be yourself?

He's showing interest? Now you worry about whether he's being especially nice to you or he's this nice to everyone. You ask his friends and mutual friends about him in an attempt to know him more because you've seen how ugly a person's true self can be. You give things more time because you don't want to commit till you are 100% sure.

Oh, he genuinely likes you too? Congrats, now you have to worry about whether you have seemingly endless topics (remember that looks alone don't last forever), his family background (you don't want to be called a gold digger if he's rich) and whatnot. There's lots of considerations before you decide to even date him.

Getting together

You like someone and the feeling's mutual? Get together then, what's so difficult about that?  "Ai gia steady mai?" (Literally: Want to be my stead? — an old fashioned Singaporean way of asking someone to be you girlfriend.) No mind games, one sentence solves it all.

You don't have to worry about how long you've known each other or how long you'll be together — relationships that age sometimes last only about a week anyway — as long as you're happy together, who cares if it's infatuation or love? You don't even care if the world is against it.

You test water by bringing him to meet your family and friends — any unanimous unpleasant opinion about him and he's out. By now you know there's a good reason behind the saying "outsiders see it best"

You consider other factors like whether his interests and beliefs are aligned to yours, whether you can accept his weird habits, if the topics between both of you will run out someday. You wonder whether the differences in background and culture, if any, will bring you together or drive you apart.

You look at the people he surrounds himself with — are they good or bad influences, what do they usually do as a group, where do they usually hang out? Do they like you as much as he does? Do you like them too?

Other than feeling comfortable with each other and developing some good feelings, there are so many factors to consider prior to entering another relationship because you're tired of getting hurt.

The future

You have everything planned out from the kind of house you'd like to live in with him to the theme of your wedding. You make plans about your future honeymoon spots, you talk about going through the rest of your lives together and even attend the same universities.

You're hopeful about marriage. You dream of a wedding attended by your family, your best friends and you might even be thinking of throwing a huge, grand wedding to celebrate your love. You swore you'd marry him and proudly declare that on every social media platform you own.

You stopped saying I love you forever because you know now that forever is a promise you can't guarantee even with a marriage certificate, what more when you're just dating. In fact, if he mentions marriage this early in your relationship, you'd be paranoid.

You know that it's not that easy to determine that you want to spend your whole life with someone. You're afraid because you've never been married and you've seen married couples end up in ugly divorces.

You know marriage is not a bed of roses, it's about give and take, you'll learn when is the right time to stand firm and to give in when there's a need to.

You learn to understand and accept some of his bad habits because there's no perfect person in this world and you love him enough to see that his good outweigh his bad.Maybe you even stay in lackluster relationships because they feel comfortable. You're no longer looking for that spark.

Breaking up

You wilted away, spent your whole day mopping around, sobbing your heart out because you can't believe someone you loved with your entire existence can just walk out of your life like this. Spoiler: they can, and they will, and it'll take you many lessons before you learn so.

It feels like your world crumbled and you lost everything you ever know of. You might even take a day or two off school to recuperate because you can't stand the thought of bumping into him in school. When you're back in school, the sight of him is enough to send you wailing and you hide in toilets to cry instead of listening in class.

The sun rises and earth continues spinning whether or not you're going through a break up. Your heart is shattered? Better hold those pieces together till you reach home. Don't even cry on public transport — you don't want potential clients seeing your mess now, do you?

You lost your relationship — that's okay — but you can't lose your job. No matter how swollen your eyes are or how broken you feel, you still wake up at 7am, put up a strong front and head to work. Love is important but it's not everything.

You've been thorough enough break ups by now to know that you'll survive and the darkness does not last forever. You've figured your coping mechanisms out long ago and you know how to handle yourself. Still, you grow a little more despair with every break up because time is ticking and no longer on your side for long.

If you're lucky — or naive, like me — you'd find the courage to love again. And again, and again. Maybe you'll find someone who reminds you of the days when you believed that love is unconiditional and hopefully, you'll learn to shower him with the love he deserves, the love you always wanted to give but was too afraid to.

Love is a strange feeling even the deepest philosopher can't put into words. Maybe thats why the smartest adults are wary when it comes to love.

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