The Razor’s Edge, by Madeleine Richey
In this day and age it seems that everyone is obsessed with dating. Everyone wants that perfect relationship, like Bella and Edward. Everyone wants that special someone.
What I’d like to call your attention to is the fact that most people don’t marry their high school sweetheart. The majority of the married people you meet probably didn’t even know each other in their teens. So why do we have to date in our teens? Why do we even bother?
I looked around at the teen couples I see, and what I’ve found is most common is obsession. These couples are totally immersed in their relationship; in each other. Every waking moment is spent in each other’s company, or e-mailing, texting, IM over Facebook, and thinking in general of the other person. And that’s not healthy. It leaves friends and family in the dust and leaves them totally dependent on each other in a way that is damaging.
We need relationships with other people. We need the support our family and friends give us, and we need a life outside of one person. As mentioned before, most people never marry the person, or any of the people, they dated in high school. So what happens when that relationship falls through if you have based your whole life around one person?
I was at a loss this month for what to write. I’d started at a blank page for half an hour and was still without a single idea, so I texted a friend and asked for some help. Teen relationships was his idea; in particular, how to know if it’s love. I think that’s a great place to start before we go into all the dangers teen dating brings. The whole reason we date is to find love, right? So how do we know when it’s love?
Personally, I have my own ideas, but I’m sure many of you think differently than me. My idea of love is that there is no true love. True love only exists in fairy tales—there is no love at first sight and no happily ever after. A relationship is something that constantly needs to be worked at. You don’t just get married and have a happily ever after. There will be ups and downs and you have to weather them together. But I think that there is such a thing as love, just not the true love they tell of in fairy tales.
Maybe one of the things we should ask ourselves before dating someone, or pursuing a more meaningful relationship, is can I live with this person? If you get married or live under the same roof in close proximity to each other, you will eat, drink, and sleep together. You will get up in the morning, use the bathroom, brush your teeth, and occasionally get sick; remember that lovely episode of food poisoning you would kill your parents if they ever told anyone about? That kind of sick. You’ll get irritable and fight; sometimes even yell at each other. There will be times all you want is a little distance—or a lot of distance—between you and the person you thought you wanted to spend the rest of your life with.
That’s not to say that you can’t spend the rest of your lives together. But that’s life. It’s not the romantic view you get from movies and books. Can you live with this person? Can you brush your teeth with them in the morning, eat every meal with them, sleep beside them? You’re going to live with this person; there’s no romance in day to day life.
I asked the friend who suggested this article for his opinion on what I should include. His input was that love is not something you find upon first sight. It sneaks up on you as you foster a relationship with someone until you find it is there. I agree with him. Love is something you have to work at; you have to get to know someone and learn to love them, learning and changing alongside them as we strive to be better people. That is what a marriage should be; two people who love each other trying to make each other better. What use is the marriage if it does not help the two people involved become better?
So that being said, maybe we should look amongst our friends for examples of the kind of person with whom we should look for a meaningful relationship. We know that our friendship is the down to earth stuff—not romantic or right out of a storybook—but we love them all the same.
But on a different note; what shouldn’t a relationship be?
Having read Twilight, I know that Bella and Edward’s relationship is not what I want for myself or for anyone I know—even anyone else in the world.
“I can’t live without you,” are dangerous words. There are real life relationships like that. But they don’t end like you’d think they would. In my research I encountered far too many true stories about women who thought they’d met the perfect man when he told them that he couldn’t live without them. But as time progressed they found that he was far from perfect; even more than that, he was dangerous. He wanted pictures of her bed to be sure that she had slept in it last night; forbade her to speak to other men; followed her everywhere; became a nightmare.
Those women fell into abusive relationships. They became the objects of sudden, unprovoked attacks. They were beaten and emotionally abused. And when they tried to walk away, they met death threats. Some were even killed in their attempt to regain their freedom.
If he says “I can’t live without you,” and means it, the time to run is now, not later. If anyone says it and is earnest, perhaps they are not the person you are searching for.
Maybe we should wait a few years before dating? The purpose of dating used to be to find a partner for life, but now it has become just a passing fancy. You can date someone for a few months, weeks, days even, and when the passion goes flat, you are free to walk away. If your intent in dating is to find a life partner or a meaningful relationship, perhaps it would be best to wait. A relationship takes commitment; if both people don’t give it their all, then both are cheated and neither gets what they deserve. But giving it your all doesn’t mean your whole life has to revolve around one person. You matter too; have respect for yourself and the other people in your life, and live a well-balanced life with love and time for everyone.
May you be blessed with deep, enduring friendships, and one day, if you so desire, a lasting, meaningful relationship.
Madeleine, 16, says: “I want to help people and I want to tell stories, especially the stories of people who don’t have a voice of their own. Some of them have faces we recognize–the faces of family and friends, maybe even the face we see when we look in the mirror. I want to share with you the information I have about all these things, so that maybe you can recognize them and walk away from danger or help out a friend who doesn’t see it or saw it too late.”