Dear Teens, This is What I Want You To Know About Falling in Love

I see the look on your faces as you all sit around the dinner table and talk about how the Homecoming dance is coming up. I remember the excitement of the leaves changing, getting a new dress, and the feeling of being in someone’s arms while dancing awkwardly to Stairway To Heaven. 

It was almost too much for my body and soul to handle. The rush made it so I couldn’t eat. I wanted to do everything right for the boy I had my eye on at the moment, so much so, that it was probably painful to watch.

I’m going down memory lane with you (and ignoring the eye rolls) because the years the three of you are in right now–smack dab in the middle of your teenage-ness–is when young love comes out of nowhere and does a number on your heart and your head, and can steal you away from yourself.

There are some people who might tell you there’s no way that you can be in love at thirteen, or sixteen, but I say that’s bull.

Love knows no age. It looks and feels different each time you fall. And every time you feel it, you will learn something through the joy and through the pain.

I hate that you will all feel the shooting, pounding hurt of heartbreak but it’s inevitable. And when you come to me with a broken heart, I won’t tell you there are plenty of fish in the sea. I won’t tell you to get over it. I won’t tell you to forget about them. Because in my 44th year of life, I’ve been in love a few times and when it’s over and people say things like that to me, I feel like punching them in the throat.

But, there are some things worth saying about love so, I’ll take the time to tell you knowing all too well that you have to go through the situations and feelings on your own and do what you will. I wish I could be your greatest teacher, but I know your experiences will be.

young lovers
Love knows no age. It looks and feels different each time you fall.

I hope you listen to these 8 pieces of advice about love:

  1. Don’t lose yourself.
    If you find you are compromising parts of yourself, and giving up things you love to do in order to make another person happy, take a step back and realize you are putting their feelings before yours. In order to fully love someone, you have to show up for yourself first.
  2. Don’t chase love.
    If someone isn’t putting in equal effort, or they don’t feel the same about you as you do about them, don’t wait around. And for the love of all things holy, don’t hope they are going to change their mind. The number one thing you should look for in a partner is someone who wants to be with you too– that’s attractive. Someone who isn’t interested in you, no matter how hard it hurts you, shouldn’t get your attention.
  3. Don’t try and change someone.
    Think about how hard it is for you to do something new or break a habit. Then, think about how difficult it would be if someone else tried to get you to change if you didn’t really want to. It would probably never work, right? So, why would you try to get someone else to change to fit your manual? That’s not fair. It doesn’t mean that your partner won’t piss you off sometimes, it simply means that when they do, you need to allow them to be themselves. Then, you need to decide if it’s good enough for you or not. This is so much easier than white-knuckling it, hoping that in time they will be who you want them to be.
  4. Don’t be afraid to speak up.
    Communication is huge and you should never feel like you can’t give voice to your true feelings. Relationships should be a safe place to be open and honest. If you are hiding the fact that you love sports, or fast food because your partner hates both, then you aren’t being your true self and the truth will come out eventually.
  5. You also show people how to treat you. If your partner has hurt you, tell them. If you are with someone who talks to you in a way you don’t approve of, or is constantly checking out other people in front of you, let them know where your boundary is.
  6. It might not last.
    This isn’t a reason to not expose your heart to someone else. Yes, heartbreak is one of the worst pains we can feel. I don’t want you holding back from something that could be life-changing and the best thing that’s ever happened to you because you are afraid it will go away. Nothing in life in certain, but there are experiences and people who are worth the risk.
  7. Don’t put your life on hold waiting around for the right person.
    You might get married and you might not. You might fall in love ten times in your life, or just once. Regardless, live your life and do the things you want to in the now. Don’t think it will be better when “they” come along. The time is going to pass whether you are with someone or not, so you might as well live it up now. Take the trip, join the club, go see the movie, even if you have to do it alone.
  8. Learn from every relationship.
    When something ends, even if it’s your choice, it’s not going to feel good. If you can ask yourself what you’ve learned from the situation and recognize what you could have done better, you will bring a lot less crap into the next relationship.
  9. Be with someone who makes you laugh.
    Looks fade. For any variety of reasons, you might not always be able to go on hikes or travel with someone. Find someone who makes you laugh, laughter lasts so much longer than money or looks. I promise.

My biggest dream is for you all to be happy. Chances are, that will include someone else being a big part of your life. As you start learning about love know that I am here, always, to help you figure it out.

Love,

Your mom, who knows a thing or two about love and loss.

You Might Want to Read:

Grown and Flown: The Book

I Didn’t Think My Heart Could Hurt Like This

About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

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