Ah, the raptures of first love.
It’s the feeling of being wanted, of being appreciated, and of being understood for the first time ever by a significant other that makes us do crazy things. Like dancing in the middle of a thunderstorm, or cooking their favorite dinner for four hours to make sure that the soufflé rises just so…
Or you know, getting engaged at nineteen.
Since the experience is new and exciting, it feels as though it will never happen again, as if no one will ever understand you like they understand you…So put what some people see as something positive and happy in a dark and negative way (as is my specialty!) first love makes you feel as though you are trapped and have no choice but to love this person and only this person if you are to have any semblance of happiness in your future.
In short, being in love for the first time is a feeling full of magic, exultation, fear, and utter desperation.
I’m sure you can guess as to what is my inspiration for this week’s article. Miley Cyrus’ engagement, but of course! At the wee age of nineteen, a Miss Cyrus has declared her unwavering love and passion for one man, and one man only, for the rest of her life, which is going to be a really long time considering she isn’t even her twenties, to a Mr. Liam Hemsworth.
To her credit, he is so fine. So fine.
I know what you’re probably thinking. That I’m bitter because she’s a teenage millionaire who is engaged to a man who is so insanely hot in makes my self-esteem go down eight percent every time I look at him for longer than ten seconds.
And you’d be right. I mean, she’s good looking, has had a steady well-paying job since she was thirteen pretending to be a pop star, has gotten to dress and dance in a giant bird cage whilst scantily clad in a music video because she was briefly a real life pop star, and now she’s going to marry the hot guy from the Hunger Games?!
There is no justice in this world, none at all I tell ye!
Although I realize that I’m not personally familiar with the couple and for all I know they’re soul mates destined for each other because they were lovers in a past life which was tragically cut short so now their reincarnations have found each other and are determined to live the life that they were once denied over a millennia ago—I still just can’t help but still feel a little twitchy about the whole teenage bride idea.
So instead of analyzing their relationship that I don’t actually know anything about, I’m going to paint you a picture of what my engagement at nineteen and subsequent marriage would be like. Since I haven’t been nineteen for over a month, I’m really going to have to reach back into my memory, but I think if I really concentrate and meditate on it for a while, it can be done.
Let’s go way back guys—to late 2011…And let’s reimagine it as the time in my life when I meet the man of my current dreams.
To be honest, my current dreams are a little weird and highly befuddling to everyone but myself, you know, because they’re heavily influenced by Benadryl due to my bad allergies. Thus, the man of my dreams will be the same.
Before I go any further, I must give this fictional man an ambiguous name so as not to raise comparisons or suspicions amongst any of my ex-something-or-others.
I shall call him Stepaulson.
Stepaulson and I meet in an extreme basket weaving class in fall of 2011, and we totally bond over intense discussions about the legitimacy of the second generation of Star Wars films and the plot holes they’ve created within the original trilogy, in addition to our mutual love of pillow pets.
Since I have never met anyone that I have so much in common with, I am smitten. And since my version of smitten is writing bad poetry about my love for them using only words that rhyme with their name, and then having said poems inscribed on sheet cake and then sent to my significant other, shockingly at first, Stepaulson isn’t really that into me.
After systematically breaking him down by showing him a very detailed power point about why the ungrateful bastard should love me, suddenly, Stepaulson is smitten with me too. Apparently, clinginess is one of his top ten turn-ons. Score!
It’s a whirl wind romance, filled with romantic dinners drinking sparkling grape juice, followed by seedy college parties drinking unknown quantities of bootlegged liquor. And, you know, since we’re both young, we’re not exactly sure what it takes to make a relationship work, so we both just try not to argue even though stuff bothers us and have lots and lots of steamy letters to penthouse moments to trick ourselves into thinking everything is perfect.
The trickery is successful. We are in love or something. Whatever it is, it feels pretty freaking amazing. And we don’t want it to end. Ever. After all, life is unpredictable, who is to say that either of us are ever going to feel this way again? The fear is almost unbearable. Even though we’re young, we decide it’s only right to lock it down.
Before I know it, there’s a ring on my finger, and my family looks like they want to strangle me. They say I have no idea what I’m doing, that I’m throwing my life away. I disagree, I’m not throwing anything away; I’m more throwing in the towel. I’m declaring I’m happy enough right now to want to sustain it for as long as possible. I could wait and date Stepaulson for a while and see if it’s going to work out—but that would be admitting doubt. It would be saying that I’m not sure I’m making the right choice. And of course I’m making the right choice. I’ve had so much life experience. Like the time I turned my best friend in for smoking a joint behind the dumpster at prom. She wouldn’t talk to me for three days…That was a really hard time for me.
And if I admit to doubting our love, I probably don’t actually love him, and if I don’t actually love him…what am I going to do? I’m engaged! Stepaulson and I are going to be together forever, dammit!
Before either of us know it, forever comes. My wedding dress makes me look like I’ve been swallowed by carnivorous cupcake. I look like one of those gypsy brides, minus all of the class. Stepaulson and I’s first dance is to a song by UK boy band sensation One Direction. The future is bright.
We’re now married. And barely twenty.
Before I know it, Stepaulson and I are learning things about each other that we never knew. For instance, I learn that he is emotionally unavailable and believes that aliens built the pyramids with their mind powers. And he learns that I’m a generally ornery person who likes to make and then hide in bed forts.
We try to make it work for a couple of months. We flip our kitchen table three times. Twice because he was angry, once because I thought it looked like fun. We watch a lot of Dr. Phil, in which we notice that he repeatedly says that people get divorced way too quickly and are looking for an easy way out.
But Stepaulson and I come to realize that’s the same logic that caused us to get married in the first freaking place.
People do a lot of stupid things when they’re in love. But if it’s a genuine love, a true, unselfish, and real love built on mutual trust, respect, and unconditional positive regard, then well, there isn’t a whole hell of a lot that you can do that will really ruin that. I think that kind of love only comes around once, or maybe twice in a life time, and oftentimes, people have to learn how to love like that. Not to say that it’s impossible; I know some people who are naturals at that kind of thing.
But the vast majority of us have to work on that kind of stuff, that including myself.
Just ask Stepaulson. He’s the one who filed for divorce.
It’s that dreadful mixture of actual affection, insane lust, and desperate longing, that is so often mistaken for love, that my friends, is the real problem. Only a truly trained eye can tell the two apart.
So to those young and engaged out there, I wish you well, but take it from my fictional ex-husband and I, marriage at that age is confusing, tough, and exhausting. Just simmer down, date a while, and wait.
And if you aren’t willing to do that, if for some reason that seems like it won’t work, then you probably shouldn’t get married. Marriage is a hell of a lot bigger of a commitment than saying “how about we wait two years and see how we feel then?”
There may be worse ideas out there than getting married young, like say, a nuclear arms race, but when it comes to your personal wellbeing, there aren’t a whole lot of things that can damage your sense of self worse than a failed marriage before you’re twenty four.
And remember, it’s always better to be alone, and content, and happy, than being married to someone like Stepaulson.
I mean, geez, what was I thinking?
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