You grow up together.
We met in a high school library, registering for classes and picking up textbooks for our freshman year. Romantic, I know. We ended up having a few classes together and becoming close friends, and then we became a little more. My sophomore year he took me to homecoming. That November he took me on a date, and then on January 10, 2014 he asked me to be his girlfriend. I was 15, and he was 16.
Fast forward a little bit, and we’re about to celebrate our four year anniversary next week! Everyone’s always shocked to find out I’m still with my first boyfriend, and that we began dating before I could even drive. Believe me, I had no interest in settling into a committed relationship at 15. But you can’t help who, or when, you love, right? Besides, I wouldn’t trade our story for anything. Don’t get me wrong though– it’s not all roses and daisies. Here’s the truth about finding your soulmate so young.
1. You’re not even a fully formed human, and then you threw another human into the mix.
It’s confusing. You’re still forming your identity apart from your parents, and you barely have a grip on who you are as an individual yet. It’s entirely possible that adding another human into that equation means you get your identity all wrapped up into that other person.
2. You have to learn to give each other space.
This is the only way to maintain your own identity, to grow (sprout, bloom, flourish– all of the above) as your own person. You need space to be an individual, and you need to give your partner space to be an individual.
3. You will change.
You, your partner, and your relationship will change. Over and over again. Be open to that change because it’s the only way you will survive.
4. You have to learn how to fall in love, over and over again.
Each time one of you changes, you’ll have to re-get to know each other. Don’t try to make your partner stay the same person they were when you met them. No one should stay the same person they were as a freshman in high school! Instead, you must be committed to falling in love with each of their glorious revolutions.
5. You won’t remember what life was like before them.
You start to realize that a lot of your favorite memories and critical life moments include your partner. It’s not that you didn’t have a life before them, but rather it’s that the only thing that precedes them is your own childhood. The season of my life when I began to think for myself and become my own human is the same season of my life when I met my Alex. So it feels like there was hardly a ‘me’ before him.
6. You grow up together.
You knew them before and after that traumatic thing happened to them. And when you talk to them there is no need to fumble through a backstory, because they were already there through everything else.
7. You have to take important steps together at an age when life choices are crucial.
For many high school sweethearts, college is the biggest earth-shaker, but every relationship will have its own. It could be one of you losing or finding a religion, traveling for long periods of time without the other, or learning how to keep the other in mind when making long-term decisions without compromising your own goals and wishes.
8. You will have doubts.
There will be wild oats left un-sewn, and you will wonder if you made the right choice being in a serious relationship so young. You will experience setbacks and struggles like any other relationship, and you will wonder if you’re strong for leaving or strong for staying. You will think about leaving now while you’re still young and have a good shot at finding another guy.
9. But then you will remember you love them.
You love how much they’ve grown. You love the way they dance when they’re doing the dishes. You love how happy they make you, and you love doing life with them.
10. And you learn how to stay.
You will enter and exit the honeymoon stage dozens of times. You will be so happy your heart could burst and you will be so angry your heart could burst and you will be so sad your heart could burst. And you learn how to stay through it all.
11. It prepares you for marriage.
Even if your current partner doesn’t end up being the one. You’ve learned how to stay through every change, every life stage, every doubt, and every hardship. You didn’t bow out because in marriage you don’t get to just bow out. These years you’ve spent with your high school sweetheart have prepared you for the rest of your life, whether with them or someone else.
I may only be 19, but I feel like I’ve already gained a lifetime of lessons from my relationship with Alex. We’ve been through heaven and hell together, and we’re ready to go through both, again and again, side by side. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to spend these last four years with the love of my life, and I can’t wait to see what our next year together teaches us.