“Hard to forget first puppy love.” – Toba Beta
A huge pet-peeve of mine has always been when people, usually adults, attempt to inform young people that their feelings are not “real.” Or they “Don’t know what love is.” Granted, the older you are, the more experience you have, therefore you are more than likely wiser and view relationships from a different perspective than a 13-year-old will. However I feel that sometimes parents should attempt to view things from their daughter’s point-of-view.
I remember when I was 13-years-old I had my first “boyfriend” and I honestly thought that we were very much in love with each other and that I was going to marry him one day. Of course, that did not happen. When he broke up with me, my world was literally over. I cried in my room for hours and told myself I would never find another boyfriend. Of course, this was not true either. But in that moment, it was my reality and it was a necessary experience I needed to go through in order to comprehend the way romantic relationships work. My mom was extremely supportive through my first break-up and she told me she understood how I felt. She said I would get through this and find someone way better than him, which was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment.
Too often I hear parents tell their kids, “You don’t even know what love is,” “You’re not old enough to understand,” “Act your age and stop trying to be an adult.” I can honestly say from a teenager’s perspective there is nothing more frustrating than someone telling you how to feel. If a 13-year-old girl feels that she is in love with her boyfriend, then for her age and maturity, she probably is. Ten years from now she will look back and say “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I thought I loved him.”
I am far from an expert on the topic of “love”, but I truly believe that there is no real definition for this word. It looks, feels, and acts differently for every person. I believe that we all will have multiple loves in our lives, and each one will teach us an important lesson as we grow and experience the different stages of love. These stages will be an incredible journey until the day we find “the one.”
When I look back on my seventh grade “love” I laugh, but I also have fond memories and I learned a lot of lessons. Has my perception of love changed since then? Of course. I have felt that I was in love another time since then, and maybe five years from now I will look back and think, “I thought THAT was love?!” Or maybe I won’t. All that matters is how you feel in the moment, and the lessons you take from each interaction and relationship you have with someone.
So the next time you hear a middle-school child bragging about how much they love their boyfriend/girlfriend, just smile and think back to when you were their age. When one experiences heartbreak, it is always real. No matter how old you are or how long you have been with that person. Never tell someone else how they feel, because you will never really know. “Puppy Love” can be an important stepping stone to the “real deal.”