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Everything I Learnt Experiencing a Relationship for the First Time Aged Twenty

Or the end to be being an ugly teenager.

Photo by Jared Sluyter on Unsplash

I am a hopeless romantic, but I have also had the misfortune of being a pudgy, socially-awkward teenager. As a result, I wanted love, lusting over dream romances in the same way a people on diets lust over pasties: I wanted it, but never believed it could possibly happen to me. Every date I’d been on had resulted in being ghosted; or in one case, he was an exchange student who promptly flew back to Boston. It seemed an actual romance was something I’d never have, I wanted nothing more than the permanent arms around me, the status updates (or just the sheer thrill of getting to set my relationship status, something I’d never done as I’d always assumed it was obvious I was single), and waking in up to a sleepy voice murmuring “Good Morning” in my ear. Now I’ve got it, and being in a relationship is strange state I’m still getting used to, but I've decided to share a few things waiting so long before entering a relationship taught me.

Giving Up Some Privacy is Stranger than You’d Think

Because I’d always been single, raised by a mother who taught me independence is one of the most important qualities a person can have, it never occurred to me how strange it’d be just to have someone constantly there. Having his support is a new sensation to me; like a child stepping into a swimming pool for the first time without armbands, and finding out they float, and don’t sink like they always believed they would. I’ve always been alone and having someone who wants to be around me (even when I’m tramping it up in PJ’s and unwashed hair) feels as if I’ve immigrated and the new country I’ve found myself in has entirely different customs, ones that involve sharing a bed and ordering far more takeaways. But don’t get me wrong, I like it here and I might just apply for a visa.

Jealousy is Strange Emotion

For most girls, who spent their teen years stalking all the profiles of any girl whose picture their boyfriend had the audacity to like, jealousy is a common emotion. Infact, we only need to look as far as every "Psycho bitch" meme to see it in full force, embraced to its full parodic potential. Although I’d felt it with my unrequited high school crushes, feeling jealousy in a real relationship was something else entirely that knocked me out for the count. The bonus is, being out of my teen years, I’ve never pettily took it out on my boyfriend; but this in no way means I’ve never hormonally cried myself to sleep in some slightly-tipsy state over the fact he heart reacted a female friend's photo on Facebook. Over time, several months down the road, I’ve come to realise jealousy is symptomatic of my own projected personal anxieties. I suffer from the millennial instinct to beat myself and down, and I believe this distorted image of myself is how others see me, at least to some degree. It makes total sense for him the cheat when, if I was in his shoes, I’d run away from me. So, I can’t stop jealously, but I can learn to accept it, as a trait that stems from being such a passionate person (I could make a astrological joke but I'm going to bite my tongue).

You’re Generally More Secure in Your Choice of Partner

After so many years single, by the time you enter a relationship, you are 100% certain you’ve made the right choice. After all, I’ve had twenty years to decide what I want in a partner, and have used my female friends mistake as my own case studies. As a teenager I prioritised the exterior, I thought I needed a 6ft (minimum) Greek God of a man. Now I know that all the height a man can have cannot give him an empathetic muscle in that rock-hard body. The only reason I cared so much about size was my own, somehow the message I’d picked up from the world around me was a man had to ‘X’ amount larger than their chick. Hence, by being far from petite (5ft 7 and a UK size 12-14) I figured I’d need a mountain of a man. Now I know this is bullshit; I’m far from the size where I’d break a guy, even if he was as slim as a rake. Far from the movie-poster heartthrob, my boyfriend is in fact, a super fucking dork; and it’s perfect.

Actually Communicating Problems is a Lot Harder Than You’d Think

I grew up horrifically introverted, I didn’t say my first word until I was two and hardly held a conversation with someone outside my family until I was ten. I’ve made peace with this half of me, I think there’s a beauty in introverted people, a kind of mystery in what they selectively reveal to you. But most of a healthy relationship relies on communication, and I just flat out never unearth my problems—I’m very much a "bury it underground and starve it of oxygen" type. My coping mechanism is I can always rely on the fact my problems haven’t burdened anyone but me and being in a relationship has tested that. The idea that if I’ve had a bad day I turn to a person is one I’m trailing out, as bizarre as it is to me.

You Probably Argue a lot Less than Every Other Couple You Know

Again this goes back to your choice of partner, being so independent odds are you rarely come to head-on conflicts. Most my problems are sorted out privately and most arguments between couples are rooted in taking out some frustration on someone else. Because I’ve never got used to having a human punch bag I normally just resolve such conflicts in my own private space. Of course I’m not saying arguments will never happen, but if they do they’re the unpreventable kind, not the "dishes are out so I'm going to cut you with them" type.

It was always some mission of mine to get a boyfriend, most of my teenage years were spent daydreaming of some perfect prince striding in on a white horse to carry me off. However, I don’t regret waiting till age twenty to enter my first relationship, it means I've bypassed the embarrassing teen stages of dating and began right at the best bit. 

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