DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: My girlfriend and I are are best friends who started dating right after high-school — having graduated just recently. Everything is amazing. Sure we have a day when the one of use can annoy the other, but generally everything is just bliss. I love being around her and she loves being around me, we also share a lot of interests which is why we were such good friends before we started dating.
Now this question might seem a little of the blue but here it goes….
She is my first girlfriend, and things are just amazing as stated above. We both agree on how we want to go forward with our lives, from how we would raise our kids to parenting styles and a type of wedding. This is probably the section where you sigh and shake your head, which is why I’m asking this question.
Can young love really stand the test of time, or are they bound to fail because of a lack of experience and knowledge outside of the relationship.
Unfortunately the only thing that has given me hints on how it turns out is movies and TV which is that it really does not turn out well. So could you explain how my worries are unjustified and explain how so, or tell me the likelihood of people who try the same thing and fail.
— Total Noob
P.S. Friends have stated that they think its a little odd thinking this way about my first relationship, adding to my need to ask this question
DEAR TOTAL NOOB: This is one of those times where I feel like I need the disclaimer that just because you ask for my advice doesn’t mean you’re going to necessarily like what I’m gonna say.
That’s why this is called “advice” and not “binding arbitration”; you’re free to think I’m full of s--t — I frequently am — and that there’s no way I could understand what you and your girlfriend have.
But here it goes anyway:
You and your girlfriend are barely out of high-school. You don’t say if you’ve started college yet, or if things have been put off by, y’know, everything, but honestly, you’re close enough that I feel that my general advice about dating in high-school is still relevant: don’t stress about it. Whether you’ve got a high-school sweetheart (or two, or three) or if you didn’t date at all, dating in high-school isn’t something to take all that seriously.
Why? Because to start with, you don’t know who the hell you are when you’re in high-school. With very few exceptions, you’re living almost entirely in an artificial reality with no real responsibilities or real-world experience. It’s a time when everyone’s confused, everyone’s lost, nobody knows how to handle all the weirdness and feelings they’re dealing with and everyone thinks it’s far more important and significant than it actually is, because nearly a century of pop culture makes high-school seem like the alpha and omega of existence. And it’s not.
Plus, more often than not, graduating means that you’re off to a place where you’re supposed to explore and experiment with your identity and discover new experiences. Trying to start college with a relationship is frequently a recipe for drama and heartache and the ignominy of breaking up over text or Skype.
Straight talk, Noob: you’re 18, 19 at a stretch. Under the best of circumstances, you’re way too goddamn young to be thinking about things like marriage.
(To be honest, I think most people are too young to be thinking about marriage when they’re in their mid-20s, but that’s neither here nor there.)
This is not a time to be thinking about marriage and children. You should be spending more time thinking about where you’re going to score fake ids and primo weed and finding the side-hustle that’ll mean you’re able to pay for said fake ID and primo weed — not to mention books, classes… y’know. The important stuff.
Making even half-serious plans for kids and weddings… well it’s all great fun and it can feel exciting, but you simply don’t have the life experience to make it a good idea. Certainly not without a hell of a lot of support from your family and community.
Now can young love or a first relationship survive? Yes, technically speaking. You have the same odds that everyone else has, which is to say that every relationship you will ever be in will end… until one doesn’t and you die in the metaphorical saddle. But the cold hard truth is that some relationships are more likely to go the distance than others.
Is this the one that’s going to beat the odds?
Well, I’m going to be bluntly honest with you Noob: I kind of doubt it. You’re heading into college, which will be throwing all sorts of new trials and temptations your way. Even if the two of you are planning on going to the same school, I think you’re going to find that you’ll be drifting apart in short order through no fault of your own. This, in all likelihood, is going to be the first time you and your girlfriend have ever had a life outside of the immediate control of your parents, and you’re going to be trying new things, having new experiences and realizing that who you are and who you THOUGHT you were are two very different things.
And come on. You don’t want to be That Guy. You know. The one who peaked 17, married his high-school sweetheart and ended up as manager of a dodgy used-car dealership and dreams about the glory days in high-school.
Even if you’re not planning on college, you’re still facing down a life that you have no frame of reference for yet. It’s nice to have a partner in crime, but I think you’re going to find that this isn’t necessarily going to be a love to last the ages.
But hey, I could be wrong! God knows I have been before.
That being said, even if that’s the case: that doesn’t mean that this relationship will FAIL. A relationship ending isn’t the same as failing. If this relationship ends and you and your girlfriend still have affection for each other — you may even be good friends — and respect for one another and you look at your relationship with fondness… that’s a VERY successful relationship in my book.
Now, my advice — which, let’s be fair, you don’t have to take — is to take a mutual break. Enjoy college. Sample everything life has to offer for a few years and get a good grasp on who you are and what the future holds for you.
At that point, not only will you have a better grasp of who you are, you’ll be in a much better position to make this relationship work in the long term.
If the two of you are meant to be – if this IS a love that can beat the odds – then it’ll still be meant to be after you have your bachelor’s degree.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org