Being in love (YA version)

Natasha Aragon, Staff Writer

Love is hard enough as it is – balancing multiple priorities, understanding healthy relationships and allowing yourself time to grow independently is difficult to manage. Yet, for teenagers these issues feel more daunting. As you’ve probably been told on multiple occasions, the frontal cortex isn’t fully developed until you’re 25, causing teenagers and young adults to be more impulsive than older individuals. 

Love is, obviously, not like the movies — picture perfect and kissing in the rain. In reality, love requires regular communication, patience and independence. Yet, the constant exposure of only seeing the bright sides of relationships on television makes it hard to grasp the true effects of your actions (like choosing to not go to your dream college or having sexual relations when you don’t feel ready); in turn, making it difficult to find what’s right for you. 

Relationships are subjective, but healthy relationships don’t change with age. In any relationship, you want your partner(s) to be someone you trust and feel safe around. Not only should you be able to enjoy each other’s company but you should be able to be yourself and let loose. 

The very first thing you should consider is setting boundaries. Everyone has different needs and preferred pace for a relationship. Respect should be mutual, but to achieve this, you must consider what respect looks like for your partner. Doing so will set the foundation and allow you to work your way up together. 

According to Jessica Hackmann, our school psychologist and sponsor for Dulaney’s One Love club, you need to prioritize yourself, your values and your extracurriculars – romantic relationships in high school shouldn’t stunt your personal growth. No partner should make you feel guilty for setting time for something you value, and you shouldn’t have to change what you want and need to appease the other person. 

“If you have that honest relationship and foundation where you feel like you can trust someone, then you should be able to say those things and be heard,” said Hackmann.  

As we are still developing, our sensation of love is intense. But experiencing romantic relationships now can allow you to manage that intensity in the future. You’ll be able to know what makes you a better person, so that regardless of what kind of relationship it is, it’ll help you make and maintain healthy connections throughout your adulthood. Additionally, resilience will be built as relationships are not like the world of technology: there are no quick fixes. This will require a lot of trial and error. However, don’t be discouraged; understanding what to change and what to continue will help guide you in the right direction.