There are very few couples who start as teenagers that actually make it. The younger generations are growing up more reliant on their cell phones than on forming meaningful connections with other people. Teenagers and young adults my age show patterns of immaturity, impulsiveness, and disrespect for each other. When you find a good one, you hang on to them in this day and age.
I've been in my current relationship for 2 years, 3 months, 2 weeks, and 2 days (but who's counting?) and this is what I've learned so far. It's worth mentioning I'm not a relationship expert and we're still learning ourselves. These are just things I've reflected on that I think are important to a successful young relationship.
1. How to forgive
When you start dating someone at a young age, you're both going to make mistakes. If you want things to work and truly care about each other, you'll have to learn to forgive and move on. A lot of teenagers would rather throw the whole relationship away than work through everything, so forgiveness is key to building a relationship together when you're both bound to mess up along the way.
No two people of any age will ever come into a relationship 100% compatible with each other. When you start dating as teenagers or young twenty-somethings, not only do you have to learn each other, but you have to learn what a healthy relationship is in general. It takes patience with each other to form a relationship that is enjoyable for you both. Along with that, both of you are going to grow and change throughout the relationship when you start dating as kids. You'll need to be patient with each other as you both start to find your way through adulthood.
3. How to love unconditionally
When you start a relationship young, neither of you has fully developed into the person you're meant to be yet. Your significant other will come with their flaws and quirks, and they'll pick up more throughout your life journey together. You'll learn to love them unconditionally, through all of the change and growth you'll both experience.
4. How to compromise
At least in my case, my boyfriend (hi, Drew!) and I were at pretty different stages of life when we started dating. We were both busy with completely different lives and wanted to spend time doing different things. It's good to learn how to work through your busy lives together at a young age, because once you get into the real world, you'll already be old pros at compromising. Whether it's something as little as deciding what to do together in your limited free time, or something as major as working on communication issues, learning to be understanding and willing to meet in the middle comes easier when you start out in a relationship early in your life.
5. It's okay not to be perfect for each other
No one is perfect and no couple is perfect. You're going to bump heads and have your differences with any person you date at any stage in your life, but the advantage of dating while you're still kids is you have the opportunity to grow up together. Even though we may not have been perfect for each other when we met, growing up and learning how to navigate the world together will affect both of you. You might not start out a perfect fit, but you'll grow into a perfect fit because your relationship will have a significant impact on who you become.
6. Even though you grow together, it's okay to turn out differently
Your relationship will affect your likes and preferences, but it's important to remember that a relationship is two people who happen to like each other, not the formation of one person. It's actually really cool to watch your significant other discover new likes, new hobbies, new friends, and new adventures, and they still have you as the constant in their lives. You'll definitely develop into different people, but you'll always come back to each other.
7. There is something to love in everything about them
There's something to love in all the flaws they had as a kid, and there will be something to love in the flaws they have as an adult. Their oddities and quirks will become your comfort when the rest of the world is starting to close in on you. After all, their flaws are what makes them who they are.
8. Patience again... but a different kind
There are obvious limits on teenage relationships. You might not be able to travel the world together like you would like to, or go out to bars like older couples can (if that's your thing). The adults in your lives may not take you that seriously at first, and you can't really blame them, because most teenager relationships are short-lived. Through all the frustrations of being kids in love, just remember not to rush the ease and simplicity that comes with a young relationship. You'll miss how easy things were when you're struggling to find time for each other around full time jobs. Adult life together will come soon enough.
9. Typically, you'll both outgrow your bad habits
A killer of young love is inexperience. A lot of kids go into relationships not knowing what's okay and what's not, or what a healthy relationship looks like. Even with experience, dating a new person is all about learning how to make them happy. The cool thing about dating as teenagers is you'll learn the other person inside and out, and you'll outgrow your bad habits. Little problems that seemed catastrophic as teens quickly become unimportant as your relationships matures. We outgrow and we outlearn.
10. Take your friends' advice with a grain of salt
Teenagers today treat each other like we're all disposable. Have a problem with the current bf? Toss him out and find a new one, it'll only hurt for a second. When you're in a committed relationship as a teenager and look to your friends for advice through the hard times, be cautious. Remember that
a) their relationship ideals will be different than yours,
b) they don't know your relationship, and
c) they base their advice off of the bad things they hear.
They don't hear about how happy you are on a daily basis.
11. There isn't anything sweeter than the memories you make when you're a teenager in love
We've already accomplished so much, done so much, and we still have our whole lives ahead of us. There's something about growing together with someone that makes it so fulfilling and so worth it. I fully look forward to when we'll be able to look back on our teenage years together and reminisce about how far we have come.