When I was 18 years old, I began a long-term relationship. It lasted 3 years. A number of recent Thought Catalog posts argue that no young person should ever get into a serious relationship. While I understand this point of view, I disagree. It is important to make yourself happy at any point in your life, whether that means being single or being in a relationship. Given that I chose the latter, I know a little about how that goes.
Here’s what I learned from being in a committed relationship when I was young, and how the lessons learned helped me learn and grow as a person.
You’ll learn what love is
There is no feeling more thrilling and exhilarating than believing you are in love. You’ll share the most exciting moments, and the most mundane moments, and will feel as though nothing in the world matters more than you two. There’s no feeling like it — and later, you’ll see how hard it is to replicate.
You’ll learn what love is not
When you’re young, you’re still figuring out who you are — which means you’re much more likely to shape yourself into the mold that fits best with the person you’re dating. You’ll do things that you’d never normally do. This can be a good thing sometimes. It can also lead to you looking back and wondering what either of you was thinking. Intense feelings can cloud your logic, but will ultimately teach you what love really is.
You might cheat
Let’s be honest: when you’re young, you’re more adventurous, and curious, and often you won’t fully understand the consequences of certain actions until you’ve done them. While I don’t condone cheating, I think that doing it can be the best way to learn why not to do it, and will likely make you think twice before ever doing it again.
And feel the most heartbroken you ever have in your life
If you do break up (and, let’s be honest, odds are you will), it will be devastating. You will be crushed. You won’t know how to fill your days without him/her. You’ll cry every night. You might experience depression, anxiety, insomnia, etc. It’s rough. But after a while, you’ll learn to cope, and in doing so, will acquire some of the best skills you’ll ever learn in life.
You’ll learn that everything is going to be ok
After a while, you’ll get back on your feet. You’ll see that you can move on, have so much to be grateful for, and can find opportunity in everything. Personally, I took the end of my relationship as a chance to focus on school, learn everything I could, and aspire to become who I wanted to be. The determination I acquired after the breakup has helped me achieve things I never thought possible.
And finally, get it out of your system
Once you know how much work is involved with a relationship, you’ll be much more careful before getting into one. You’ll know to wait for the right time and the right person to come along. You’ll refuse to settle. Because you know that you’ve gained the confidence, strength, and emotional intelligence to handle any relationship you encounter — a valuable lesson to learn, whether you see it or not.