I would like to preface the spiel I am about to give with a disclaimer: These relationships were primarily long distance; not all of them, but a good number. The names in this article have been changed for the sake of privacy for the girls and guys involved. These lessons I am about to share are my own personal experience that I have generalized for the sake of young girls and boys. Being a senior in high school, I do not expect to be a genius in the matter, but I always found that no matter how many articles are written on this subject, there are always assumptions to be made about love lives. All this being said, let’s get started.

Communication is key is on every list out there, but it can never be overstated. If a relationship, romantic or otherwise, does not have healthy communication, it does not strive. I learned this through my own experience, as well as watching my parents argue over minuscule things that could easily be prevented if only someone had watched minded their tone, or took a moment to listen many arguments could be prevented. My recent ex, Diana, and I were known for bouts of arguments every so often. Taking blame, I will admit my jealousy got the best of me and I could not voice my thoughts on my problems properly, and ended up getting frustrated with her. After we broke up, we knew if we wanted to continue being friends, we needed to compromise. Communication became our priority. Our relationship has grown much stronger because listening to each other has become easier, and we swallow our pride to admit our faults. My only regret is that this was not done sooner, because if it was, we may have celebrated our six month in May.

Space is perfectly healthy. The honeymoon stage is inevitable. The beginning of any relationship is the parading period, and it’s sweet at first, but sometimes relationships can feel suffocating. This is coming from yours truly, someone who requested seeing their significant other every day and a movie night every weekend. After the break up with Diana, when we were finally unattached from each other's hip, I realized her complaints were not nonsense like I had originally passed them off to be. The difference in our solace was evident in the lack of fights. She had her time to study, to read, to do her own hobbies without me, and I had the time to do the homework and reading I had been neglecting without even realizing it. It may be hard in the beginning, but after trying it for a week, it becomes evident how much you miss out on when you worry about being beside someone twenty four seven. Quality time is valuable, but it is true that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Differing opinions aren’t a deal breaker, and remember to try new things. I remember when I first introduced Diana to one of my favorite YouTubers, she was weary of the fact that the youtuber posted controversial topics on Twitter. When we finally watched a video of hers, it was because Diana was curious about her viewpoints on certain political issues. After the first video, she was asking for more. Of course, I did not find out until rather recently that she still remained unswayed on certain issues, and our opinions conflicted with one another, but the truth of it all is it did not matter one bit. Differing opinions are not the end all be all of relationships. The way I see it, as long as she is not rude to me outside of pointless banters, and I return her the same respect, it’s not a fault, but a gift. Dating someone with opposing viewpoints and conflicting interest invites you into introspection, and self discovery when trying new things. There is no fun in a relationship in which both parties like the same things all the time. There is excitement in exposing each other to new things, whether it is politically, or in terms of shows, movies, or books. Learning more about each other shows appreciation for the other when both parties are willing to give a little for the one they love.

Don’t settle. This is a signed sealed and sent letter to any girls conflicted on whether to take the chance with their crush. A long time ago, in the library of Manchester High, a sixteen year old me had a crush on a boy my friends just so happened to be friends with. We will give him the name ‘Danny’. Danny and I had never spoken but his style alone was something that caught my attention in the hallways. A year later, I became an aid to the school nurse, and the girl who aided with me eventually became a mutual friend of ours, unbeknown. At her graduation dinner, it had been me, the boy, and two other teens along with her family. The boy, Danny in this case, and I had flirted and teased throughout the dinner, and he eventually offered to take me home. I refuse to go into details about what happens before the ride home (although it is not much, it is not the point of this article). A year later and we have went out three times only, and twice were alone. I learned that although he says that he does not want things to be based solely on sex, the way he asked to go out implied something more private than what I had wished to happen.

It is important to mention that this is the first time I have had someone take interest in me physically. Before him, there were boys who laughed at me when hearing I had a crush on them, boys who asked me out as a joke, men on apps who liked my looks but always wanted something in return. Before him I had a girlfriend who I loved so deeply to the point of buying her a nice little gift for Christmas, only to have her ignore me without further communication, her last message being “I’ll explain it all.” in January, and it is now April.

I liked him, and admittedly, I do not regret what happened after the party, but just because it happens once does not mean it has to happen again. No one deserves to settle because it is their first of anything. I had it in my mind set that it may be the last time it happened for awhile, and that is not a healthy way to think. At the age of eighteen, there will be many more boys and girls that take interest in me, and it will be the same for any girl or boy. Eighteen is such a young age in the big picture, and not one teenager needs to make a mistake because they thought nothing would come of them later on.

And finally, Just because they make you happy, doesn’t mean it’s meant to be. I know, I know. If they make you happy, why not be together? Well it’s worth a shot, but it does not always mean you it is a perfect match. Diana and I met late October, and from early November there was not a day we went without talking. She made me laugh, I made her laugh, we bonded over the same sick humor and movies and shows. She and I had something pretty spectacular with how we never had a saddened day. It was not until we started dating that tension built between us. My jealousy got the best of me, our communication was all too flawed, and the two of us had familiar issues we did not have the proper skills to vent about. This, combined with personal insecurities was a disaster waiting to happen. It is true that we are friends now, and happily so, but dating was not for us. No matter how happy she makes me as a best friend, we are not romantically compatible, and that is perfectly okay with young relationships. It can even be, dare I say, better.

As I said before, I am not an expert, nor is anyone, in the field of love or relationships. Relationships are trial and error no matter what the situation, and all relationships- long distance, neighborhood, monogamous, polyamorous- they can all work with the right communication and balance, but you should never compromise your own morals and self respect for someone you had an eye on for some time.