Hi there, Papa!
Getting straight to the point would probably be the best thing. This is my first letter to you, so I'm sorry if I do something wrong!
Recently, I've found myself a mate. A really sweet guy. I've known him for roughly a year, had a crush on him for about half a year, and we've been together for about a quarter of a year.
We've talked, video chatted, and have plans to meet up soon, as he's not that far away. My problem's gonna sound kinda funny, but hear me out, please.
Now, I've never been in love, or even liked someone as much as I do. You can probably tell by my age. I don't know how to handle liking someone like this, and it's kinda scary. Will I do something wrong? What if I mess up and say something very contradicting to his beliefs, and he doesn't like me anymore? I don't know how to lead something like this, or even take a back seat and let him lead it.
Second, emotions this strong are messing me up. I'm normally a pretty unemotional person, but now I'm finding myself daydreaming about a future with him like a dumb middle school girl and her boy band singer. We haven't even met up in real life once, and I'm already acting like this! I don't know how to handle it. Is it weird, for a high schooler to be acting this whimsical? I know perfectly well this whole thing we have going could flop, but dang, try telling my imagination that.
What do I do to try and keep a healthy relationship? How do I quit fantasizing these impossible things? Is it weird? So many questions. I'm so new to this.
Thanks in advance. I love the work you do here, and I WILL be purchasing your furry book.
Your fennec, Genesis (age 15)
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What you’re going through is very normal for a girl your age. Since I don’t know the guy you’ve fallen for, and since you don’t describe him or say what about him attracts you, this letter will be about young love in general.
Young love—particularly that first head-over-heels love—is an amazing thing. It’s like your first taste of a chocolate milkshake ever, or the first time you see a double rainbow, or the first time you ever go on a rollercoaster ride or an airplane. It’s new, it’s exciting, it gives you a rush, especially when you have your first kiss or first dance. You’ve never felt this swelling of emotions before and they can both excite and confuse you. This can also cause you to make silly mistakes, and the other potential hazard is idealizing your newfound mate and making him into something he’s not—the old knight-in-shining-armor-on-a-white-steed syndrome.
Let’s talk about mistakes first, since you brought up that fear. I’m going to both scare and reassure you here: you will make mistakes; I guarantee it. Everyone makes mistakes in relationships. And, know what? It’s okay to make mistakes. That’s how you’ll learn and grow. Interestingly, making mistakes will also help you find a true love. How? A bad match will run away from you when you eventually, inevitably, make that mistake, but a true love will forgive you and understand it was a mistake and stay by you. In return, you need to do the same for him when he makes a mistake. As long as these mistakes are honest ones and not something that is deliberately hurtful, they should be forgiven.
The other thing I mentioned was idealizing your mate. If you put him on a pedestal and think he’s a perfect angel you run the risk of thinking he can do no wrong. This can be dangerous because it can blind you to problems that should be addressed and not ignored.
To answer your questions, then: no, it’s not weird at all for you to act like this; many young people go through this romantic first love stage. Go ahead and fantasize about it if you like; there’s no harm in that as long as you recognize such daydreaming as fantasy. I’m glad you’re planning to meet your love interest. A big reason why I tell my readers that long-distance relationships are not a good plan is because virtual relationships are easier to idealize. By meeting the person in real life you will have a much better chance of seeing who he really is. Maybe not at first, not immediately, but given enough time, you’ll see him, warts and all.
A healthy relationship comes when you each see the other person for who she/he really is, and you love him/her despite the flaws that everyone has because that person has the kind of heart and soul you’re searching for.
The last thing to recognize here—in all hard fact—is that almost no one on the planet has ever fallen in love at 15 and stayed with that first love through dating, engagement, marriage, kids, retirement, till death do they part. Far more common will be for you to have several people you fall for—or think you may fall for—before you find that true partner. And, even when you do get married, there’s more than a 50% chance you won’t stay that way.
Real relationships are very hard and take a lot of work. They aren’t about just having a good time together, as I’ll bet you know already. So, as soon as you hit that first bump, recognize it for reality, and that will likely cure you of those romanticized daydreams pretty quickly. Once that sheen has worn off like the new car smell that’s been sprayed into a used automobile, you’ll either be left with a real, deeper love, or you will recognize that this guy really isn’t for you after all.
No way of telling that for sure until you take the plunge! Go ahead and meet this guy. Have fun! Go on dates. Expect to make mistakes, and don’t worry about it; just do your best to fix them after you’ve made them. As for leading or being led: the best dancing pairs complement each other, dancing equally well. I don’t know if you know who Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were (probably not; they’re way ahead of your time), but he was one of the best dancers of his day, and Ginger was very nervous about being his dancing partner when she was selected to costar with him in their first film. Well, she stepped up to the challenge, and later she told people that, yes, Fred was amazing, and he got most of the credit, but “I did everything he did—backwards and in high heels!”
Last word: don’t worry where this is going, dear. You are waaaaaaaaaaaay too young to be thinking about that. Instead, enjoy your youth. Nay, embrace it. You will never be 15 again. Experience love, life, and, yes, even a bit of tragedy and heartbreak. Life is intense. Don’t spoil it with worry. Just live it.
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