In a world where it’s cool to start “dating” as young as 11-13, so many people can relate to the utter embarrassment that is knowing your parents forbid it until you’re older. While peers were indicting envy updating their AIM profiles with declarations of love for their 3-week-long relationships (AIM shout outs were the OG Facebook relationship statuses) they were also developing the kind attitude about dating that most people have major grievances with today. Not being able to date in your (early to mid) teens may have been the Worst Thing Ever growing up, but ultimately, you actually have a pretty significant advantage over those who were. Here are a few reasons why:
1. It’s less of a status symbol. When you’re dating at a super young age, it’s often tied heavily to what it “means” about you, rather than how you actually feel about a person, which is a huge issue you’ll run into as an adult.
2. Your idea of love is less warped. When you’re a kid (literally) your concept of love is two things: how your parents treat you, and the twinge of attraction you feel for people your age. If not put in check, you’ll grow up believing that love is either a supplement to what your parents didn’t give you, or just physical attraction – and, uh, good luck.
3. You take it more seriously. You think of dating as getting to know someone with whom you want to foster a romantic relationship – not just a thing you do to do it. When you date, you are going. out. on. a. date., not just saying “let’s hangout,” or cruising for partners dropping an abundance of “Heyy”s over every dating app you can download.
4. You learned to focus on yourself first. Even though it was because there was no other choice, you simply weren’t distracted by the agony and ecstasy of young love, and were able to use that tender age of self-actualization to focus on what you want your life to be about outside of a romantic relationship.
5. You make better partner selections, simply because you’re finally at an age to even begin to comprehend what you want in a partner beyond how they look.
6. You have the skillsets to cope with loss, grief and heartbreak that don’t just devolve into jealousy, competitiveness and self-loathing. You must first learn that one person not loving you is not a reflection of you as a person before you dive head-first into your first love and loss, because going in blindly is the hard way to learn.
7. You realize that it’s borderline insanity for “dating at age 11” to even be part of the conversation. And you’re able to realize this because as an adult who understands the complexities and emotional responsibility it takes to really put your heart on the line.
8. You appreciate the things you’ve had to wait for. You got the chance to wait and wish for your first grown up date, and to give a relationship with someone you care about a real fighting chance, and all of a sudden, you begin to realize that it was kind of a privilege to wait until you were old enough to really begin to learn what it means to love.