I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of being “too young” for love. We, as a society, have concluded that the longer you wait to find the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, the better. And some of it makes sense: factors such as financial security improve as we age, and now that we’re living so much longer these days – why rush? I get it. But, perhaps in a last ditch effort to cling to notions of hopeless romance, I’ve always felt that finding “the one” should be based on much more than your age.
I met Blair, my long-term boyfriend, back in 8th grade. And while we aren’t married, many of our friends and acquaintances are (with children to boot). Of those couples, two are divorced and quite a few more are separated. And while I hate to say it, it’s far from surprising - most people who marry young seem, at least in my experience, to fall into three categories: extremely religious, pregnant, or looking for a stable alternative to their once chaotic life. So, why rush into marriage or even love when we see the often devastating end that young love can meet when it commits too quickly?
On the opposite side, there is also the enormous risk of throwing away a wonderful person when you’re young, simply because you feel you have too much to do and see before you commit to that person. And often, it seems to lead to being in your late thirties and early forties, alone, and ready to marry anyone willing to pay for dinner on the first date. Most of us want someone to grow old with, and as we get older, our choices naturally become increasingly less.
But when we’re young, there are so many more options because a lot of us are single. Aren’t your twenties the best time to meet someone who matches all of your criteria and with whom you have plenty of time to build a solid foundation before you commit for life? Shouldn’t we take advantage of a time when we’re constantly in social settings, and when we have the time and energy to risk a broken heart? Of course! But at what point in that relationship, when you’re young, do we say to ourselves: “Even though I could break up with you now and get a million other things done with my life, I want to close those doors because you are wonderful, and I know how unlikely it is I’ll ever find someone like you again.”?
It’s such a hard decision to make. Are we too young to even know what’s right for us? Maybe, but the idea of giving up on something that is otherwise perfect for you because of some vague notion of “finding yourself” seems much more foolish than settling down early.
I think we have come to believe that “finding ourselves,” experiencing new things, and growing as a person can’t really happen if we’re in a relationship. It seems that we believe milestones must be met alone. But when do we know we’ve really “found ourselves” anyway? Is there a magic age where we can close that chapter of our life and say, officially, that we are ready to settle down? Even if we were to accomplish everything we wanted to, are we foolish enough to believe that, that life is going to unfold exactly how we envisioned it?
Maybe there is such a thing as being too young for love and commitment. But even if we were able to strike a perfect “marriage material” age, does that justify us spending our twenties in a perpetual state of turning down commitment because we want to have “fun,” and can’t see ourselves having it with someone else – even someone who loves us unconditionally?
It may be scary, but so are most big decisions in life. Blair and I constantly get the “but you’re so young” speech from others, but I refuse to push away the person I believe is meant for me because of how old I am.