Young Relationships

(Mods, not sure if this belongs best in IMHO or MPSIMS…)

I’ve heard more than a few young (for the sake of this thread, under age 25) people say post-break-up, that if they had met their partner x amount of years later, they ‘probably would have married’ him/her. Reasons given for the break-ups include the fact that they were ‘too young’, not ready to settle down, wanted more freedom, didn’t want to get too serious, etc. And perhaps this is a female thing, but a couple of friends who initiated break-ups with their boyfriends (causing the males much grief in the process) have hinted or outright admitted that they could still see themselves getting back together some time, when they are presumably more ready to settle down or whatever.

Is this kind of attitude… good? Weird? An inevitable hurdle in a relationship between young people? I’m not sure what I think about it. It seems somewhat bizarre to say, essentially, ‘We have a perfectly good relationship, but because we’re 20 instead of 25 I’m going to break up with you.’ If you could see yourself marrying a person sometime in the future, wouldn’t it make more sense to keep them around than to push them away? I mean, you will be ready to ‘settle down’ some day, and you want to still be in a relationship with this person when you are, right?

On the other hand… I can understand, if not on an intellectual level then an emotional level, the impetus behind something like this. You don’t want to be twenty years down the track regretting the fact that you never did [insert awesome adventure] because you tied yourself down with a serious relationship too early in life. Ideally, you want to have the awesome adventure *and *the awesome relationship. I guess it makes sense in a lot of people’s minds that the best way to do this is to dump the partner and hope that you’ll either be able to come back to them, or have the chance to meet someone even better.

Then I wonder why people seem to draw a line between fun/crazy years and ‘relationship’ based years. Is it realistic to think that you can have fun and craziness and whatever, while being in a relationship? Obviously, if by ‘fun’ you mean ‘hooking up with as many random people as possible’, that might be difficult. But things like overseas trips, nights spent partying, etc… couldn’t you do that alongside the boyfriend/girlfriend, or would that be inherently less appealing? Obviously that is a subjective question, but I’m after subjective opinions…

Lastly, there is the issue of being physically be distant from your partner, such as for work, travel or schooling. I remember a thread a while back where a poster was considering moving for grad school somewhere quite far away from her boyfriend (sorry, can’t remember much else!). There seemed to be an interesting divide between opinions of ‘do it, if the relationship is worth it, it will survive’ and ‘don’t do it, the reason our grandparents have successful 60-year marriages is because they *didn’t *jeapordise their relationships by doing things like this.’ I think the latter is a good point.

Another thing to remember is that in previous generations, being with the person who would be your future life partner during your late teens and early twenties was completely normal. Today’s young people, in contrast, seem to have this drive to ‘experience’ as much as we can out of life, which often involves a rejection of the idea that the person you meet at age 18 will, or should, be the person you end up with.

I guess you’re only happy if you feel lucky, and where someone a generation or two ago might have felt lucky meeting someone that they loved by age 20, someone today might feel restricted, or held back, by the same thing. I think it’s uncontroversial to say that a 20-year old woman today has far more opportunities than her grandmother would have at age 20, and a man is not a necessity for many, or any, of those. With more choice comes the feeling that you could be making the ‘wrong’ choice.

I’m interested to hear opinions from all generations - dopers in relationships that are ‘settled’ or ‘serious’ or whatever you want to call it, how old were you when you first got together with your partner? If you were young when you met, do you ever feel that you missed out on opportunities you might have had, had you spent more time single and unattached?

If you’ve ever broken up with someone because of feeling too young for a serious relationship or some such, do you think this was the right move? Do you look back and go, ‘yeah thank god we didn’t stay together, that would have ended in disaster/I would never have gained the life experience that I now have/I can’t believe I once wanted to marry that freak’ or do you fondly think about how your life might have been different, but not worse? Or maybe you regret for letting ‘the one’ slip away?

FWIW, I’m 20, my boyfriend is almost 22, and we’ve been together about 2 1/2 years. I’m not about to break up with him or anything, but this is just something I’ve been thinking about.

No offense, but I didn’t trudge through your entire OP. I’m way too sleepy for that, which will also explain any proceeding incoherence.

I read your first paragraph.

I believe the whole “met him/her too early” has to do more with maturity than anything. A lot of my break-ups, whether initiated by me or my then girlfriend, were almost purely based off something immature and stupid.

Get a couple of years in ya and as long as there truly was an emotional connection, one of the only things stopping you from giving it “another go” is if the earlier problem was that of immaturity and stupidity or something more serious (drugs, cheating, whatever).

Or something.

Thank god I didn’t marry young! I wouldn’t have been able to do half of the things I do now. When I look at my friends who married young, their lives are a lot different than mine, and I like mine better.

I think most of us have seen so much divorce that we can no longer believe marriage alone will make us happy. We don’t want to end up like our parents. So we don’t do what our parents did.

I met my future husband when I was 18, hooked up with him at 19, and we married when we were 23.

I was remarking the other day that I have in essence never been a single adult, with the exception of that (mostly uneventful) one year of college. There was never a dating scene for me, but then again I’ve never felt like I had anything to get out of my system. I didn’t see the point of dating a million guys if I had already found the one I wanted. At the time I fell in love, I wasn’t really looking to hook up with anyone. I felt like I had a lot of personal stuff to work out before I was ready for a relationship. But life just happens, and he was a stubborn SOB who would not let it go.

Our marriage was perfect timing from my point of view. I’ll never forget our honeymoon, looking over at him and realizing with great joy that there was no mystery, no uncertainty–just this guy I’d known for years and had already been on a million vacations with. I wasn’t ‘‘on honeymoon with my new husband,’’ I was just hanging out with Sr.Olives, a man whose habits I already knew as intimately as my own. As the years have passed (we are three years married) I’ve only grown more certain that where I need to be is by his side. We are a total team and especially now, living states away from our nearest family members, we support one another more than ever.

The other day a coworker was sharing her tales of dating woe, and she asked me if I ever regret marrying so young. I said in fact I feel fortunate not to have to go through all the dating drama. The thought of dating life makes me feel kind of nauseated, as it did then. If your heart’s desire is a stable and supportive relationship, why waste time?

I’ve heard so many people say, ‘‘I changed so much between age 20 and 25 I can’t imagine getting married so young.’’ I can’t deny that I’ve changed a lot, but the fundamental Who I Am has not changed a bit – I’m just a wiser, more pragmatic, more emotionally mature version of my 20-year-old-self. It helps that both my husband and I are open to change and behavioral modification and admitting that we’re wrong and redrawing the plans if necessary. We are both problem solvers at a fundamental level, and it makes life a lot easier.

On the other hand, I think too many people rush into marriage. The majority of my family members first married in their teens and immediately started cranking out kids. My husband and I are careful planners. We started talking about marriage as soon as we started dating, but we wanted to do it right. We are still not ready for kids, as we are both grad students at present.

If I have any regrets at all, it is that my relationship makes it difficult for me to spend time abroad. I speak Spanish and have always wanted to join the Peace Corps or do something long-term in Latin America. While summer trips are totally doable, 2 years in another country isn’t going to happen anytime soon. This cuts off some career options for me, but fortunately I have a lot of different passions and can direct my focus elsewhere. If something ever happens to my husband, I can promise you one of my first reactions once I’m released from the psych ward will be to buy a one-way ticket south of the border.

A secondary observation is that if you are both passionate about your career, there will be difficult compromises. It’s hard to make grad school work – he commutes an hour and a half and I commute 45 minutes (last year I commuted 2 hours and he commuted 10 minutes.) I didn’t want to leave Michigan, but I had to so he could attend school out here in New Jersey. It ultimately worked out, but I think one very important consideration in the viability of a LT relationship, is ‘‘how much am I willing to inconvenience myself to make this work?’’ My answer is, ‘‘pretty damn much.’’

I’m another one like this, but on the male side. I first met Lady Chance when we were both eighteen. We started dating when I was 19 and she was 18 during our first year in college. Been no looking back ever since. We’ve now been a team for 23 years and married for 16+.

I can understand that some people may not be ready for commitment at a younger age, certainly. But it’s not a universal thing as Olive and I can attest, apparently.

Really, meeting her was like being struck between the eyes. I knew I was going to try to marry her within a few weeks of beginning to date. It was like I had little free will in it. And even today we hardly go anywhere without each others. Sometimes friends will invite me out for ‘boy’s night’ or somesuch and I almost always decline. When they ask ‘don’t you need to get away every now and then’ my response is ‘No, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than with her.’

Define a “successful” 60-year marriage. Is it one where they’ve simply stayed married, or it it one where they’re actually happy together throughout those 60 years? There’s a lot more of the former than the latter; if you don’t believe me, come have a look at my grandparents. They just hit 60 years earlier this month, and they haven’t seemed to actually like each other much in…well, about as long as I can remember. I’m 33.

And seeing relationships like that is a huge reason people are leery of settling down while really, really young. You tend to change a LOT in the years between high school and about 25 or so, and in a lot of relationships two people don’t really change in ways that are compatible. Of my friends, I’m the only one who is still with the guy I was dating when we were 19. Three of us are still with the guys we were with at 22, but of the other 2 one is in the process of divorce and the other has seriously considered it but decided to work things out because of the kids.

See, that’s the real thing about doing it the way Granny did. Granny went steady at 17, married at 19, and started having babies at 21–by the time she realized at 27 that she and Grampy had grown up to be incompatible they already had 3 kids and a mortgage. So she had to choose between the financial and emotional hit of a divorce with the huge disruption to her kids’ lives of splitting up their family, or staying and being not very happy. Neither of those are really attractive options to most folks, ya know?

As for it being a female thing, no. Unwillingness to settle down has been a male stereotype for 30 years that I’m aware of. “Sowing your wild oats,” they used to call it, and it was a time-honored reason to break up with someone with whom you had a decent but uninspiring relationship. Sort of the forerunner to “it’s not you, it’s me.”

I met my husband at 18 started living together nearly immediately and was married to him when I was 20. I am 40 and we are still married. We knew we were going to get married in the first month together and it was only delayed so long through act of God.

I had to be a grown up right away because in many ways he wasn’t. We put each other through college, and then got decent jobs. College was much more fun as a married woman. I was the one who set the budget, but I started right away teaching him how and we took turns handling the bills.

During my last semester, my husband was living away. He started looking for a job and found one hundreds of miles away. We did the long distance thing for two months and survived.

You are nuts if you think back in the olden days that they never did the long distance relationship thing. There are many things that would cause that, from military service to working temporarily somewhere else. Ever hear of a widow’s walk? And forget this finding the right person as 20, for many it was more like 15, and the person was 25, at least that is the way it worked with my great-grandparents, and they were not unusual.

We did not rush into kids, but we again had more help from the powers that be as my husband can’t have children. I can’t tell you how much of a blast it was to be young with a sex partner who was always near and completely safe. We tried so many things, it was damn cheap entertainment and I have not found a better pastime.

There was a lot of pressure on us to wait. I enjoyed calling up some of the nay sayers after each anniversary early on. I particularly enjoyed that I stayed longer than my parents did the first time.

I got married at 22, best decision I ever made. It’s been tons of fun. And it incidentally made my grad school years much easier–by then my husband had a full-time job and he supported me through it. We lived in San Jose at the height of the dot com boom and I could never have afforded to live there on my own, plus I could take intern-type jobs for the experience instead of working full time. I highly recommend being married during grad school.

13 years, still very very happy.

My folks were married 60+ years, right up till dad died. I think it turned into more a partnership than a marriage. Older sibs tell me at one time they were close but I don’t remember them kissing affectionately or curling up on the couch together etc.

I think their generation didn’t have many choices. They weren’t as educated and as mobile (partly as a result), and things like divorce were taboo. I found a website that said that around 1940, the average life expectancy was 40. Then, due to medical advances, it began going up steadily to where we are today. So whereas young people today assume they have a good chance of living to be 75 or older, back in the day they probably felt more pressure to make a choice.

Since then, what else? My grandma died in 1974 and I remember my mom getting her a pant suit. Gran thought she was such a rebel when she wore that! Women working outside the house is much more common now. The pill, of course. Some women…actually live alone and (brace yourself) enjoy casual sex. They don’t even plan to marry the guy! :eek:

Mom: Why buy the cow when the milk’s free?
Sis: WHY BUY THE COW WHEN THE MILK’S FREE? Why buy the pig when all you want is a little sausage?

IMO their generation had too few options and later ones have too many. Lately it seems popular to make every child feel like a delicate snowflake. Now get off my damn lawn!

I like to throw real data into discussions like this.

It appears that people who marry young are, indeed, more likely to get divorced. After ten years, 48% of women 18 or under who get married will get divorced; 40% of women who married at age 18-19 will get divorced; 29% of those 20-24, and 24% for those 25 or older will get divorced.

But the OP is not talking about getting married.

The OP is talking about “breaking up because we’re too young to be serious.”

I know many people who have been in the “dating” stage (some with official breakups every summer to keep the gossips at bay if one of them was seen chatting with a third party) for 7 years (my brother and wife), 10 years (BFF and hubby), 15 years (a coworker)…

Maybe what some people need is to realize that being somebody’s intended doesn’t mean you have to marry yesterday.

I would like to provide you with a couple of examples about why it might be prudent to spend some single time in your early twenties. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

My first example is Jill. I am bisexual and about 2 years ago I was looking to hook up with a woman. Jill and I met and got along really well. She was beautiful, smart, and 24 years old. She was also in a 4 year relationship with her boyfriend Sam whom she had met in college her freshman year. Jill aggressively pursued a physical relationship with me despite my protestations that she was in a relationship and explained that she wanted to expiriment before they got married so she would know if it is what she wanted or not. She refused to tell Sam and insisted that a lesbionic affair was the best solution to her problems. I didn’t pursue that with her and advised that she talk to her boyfriend about her feelings since marrying someone you don’t know you are physically attracted to and don’t have a problem cheating on will eventually lead to sadness.

My second example is Maggie. I met her after I met Jill and she and I seemed to hit it off very well. She said she was looking for a physical relationship with a woman with her husband’s permission but before much happened I had asked to go out to dinner with them both to verify that he was cool with it and then I never heard from her again. Obviously her husband was not aware of her search. About 6 months ago she emailed me again saying they were divorced (big surprise) and she wanted to give it a shot but I told her that I have a boyfriend so it wasn’t going to happen.

I spent 6 months or so looking for a woman to fool around with and could not find a woman who wasn’t in a relationship with a man and trying to figure out who she was by eating pussy. If those women had spent their early twenties expirimenting (not just with sexual stuff but also career options, educational choices, and other stuff) instead of marrying the first man they laid eyes on they might have ended up in honest relationships with people they knew beyond a doubt they could live with for the rest of their lives. Or maybe they were just dishonest cheaters and would behave that way no matter when they got married, who knows? I wish for their husband’s sakes that they had figured all this stuff out before their wedding days.

Isn’t that just obsessive codependance tho’?

Don’t you need your own identity?

Also, I can remember being a kid. I used to think Pizza Hut pizza was the greatest. I thought that for the longest time, never felt the need to try other pizzas because I just knew, Pizza Hut was the best.

Then a friend of mine took me to a real Mom and Pop type pizza joint. And boy was I ever wrong!! Pizza Hut wasn’t the best pizza, there are other better tasting pizzas out there, I just never knew it because I never tried ** all the different types of pizza out there**

I just don’t get how people can honestly say “They’ve found the ultimate one” whe the “ultimate one” happens to be the very first one they tried.

To me, finding the “Ultimate one” isn’t just simply finding some one that you merely get along with but rather something more significant than that. I can’t articulate into words exactly what, but it’s more than that.

IMHO of course.

People are not pizzas. If you ditch your first pizza and discover you were wrong, you can always go back. Not so with lovers. Sometimes the right person comes along first. That doesn’t make them a compromise, a desperation move, “codependent,” or anything else but very lucky, as long as they recognize a good thing when they see it. Just because **Jonathan Chance **and his lady enjoy each other’s company doesn’t make them pathological.

Sure you can. If they’re really meant to be why couldn’t they come back?

Oh, that’s right, because maybe one of them might find some one better.

I don’t think Taters is talking about people being “meant to be”, but rather that it’s possible that the first person you meet actually is someone you are completely compatible with. That doesn’t mean heaven and earth are going to rearrange themselves so that you will stay together no matter what. It just means you have to decide whether or not you’re confident that, in the long run, you’ll meet someone else with whom you are just as compatible with.

While I’m sure there are any number of people you can truly fall in love with, I also believe that you’re lucky if you meet more than two or three of them in your lifetime.

Sure, I broke up with girlfriends several times because we were too young to be serious. I mean, we were serious, and in 2 cases we thought about marriage.

However, both times in either undergrad or grad school. Graduation dates were at least a year off. Neither or us had real jobs, careers or a safety net. Both times I was going to graduate and make my way in the big wide world - first going to China and second time to Japan. My SO’s didn’t share that interest or languages, and the timing was wrong. Heck, either might have worked out, but in hindsight I think probably neither would have lasted 5 years.

I think it all depends on the personalities of the individuals involved. I’m 24 years old (today!) and most of my friends are around the same age. Many of my friends aren’t really looking to settle down and they’ve laid out the same ideas that the OP has - basically, looking for more experiences, less tied down. They are generally very driven people and as a whole, pretty extroverted and inclined to meeting new people. Relationships at this stage of their life aren’t lifelong commitments and if there were any such assumptions, it would be quite a burden on their goals.

As for me, I’m happily in a 7 year relationship with my boyfriend. We’ve been together since high school and we went to colleges that were 400 miles apart, but we made it work. He drove up north to visit me during long weekends and I flew down for longer breaks. Many cell phone minutes were utilized and exceeded. Many people talk about young couples changing and growing apart and there’s no denying that we both changed a lot since then, but we both matured together and our personalities and interests grew into each other. We’ve come to understand every nook and cranny of our oddball personalities and loved each other more for it. Sure, there’s probably a few other people out there that are just as good a match for me as my boyfriend is, but they don’t have the 7 year history that we do. They won’t have the memories of the two of us driving down the 101 freeway and enjoying clam chowder at Pismo Beach during sunset. They wouldn’t have memories of driving to prom in his old beater van and getting Korean BBQ with a group of friends at 3am.

For my friends, they’re more motivated by the thought of making new memories and experiencing new things with the new people they might meet while being afraid of what a serious relationship might mean for their job/life prospects. For me, I like that we share so much history and understanding and I’m afraid of what life, however fabulous, would be like without it.

It boils down to being understood versus being excited about a new possibility. I value the idea of being understood so completely by someone I love that it weighs out the joy of making new connections whereas for many others, it’s exactly the opposite. It’s about how strong your drive for novelty is. This is stronger in young adults, but not all of us.

I’ve known people who didn’t want to commit in relationships because they viewed their early years as some kind of designated time for them to sleep with as many people as possible and go out and get drunk every night and generally live a consequence-free existence. So for some people, late teens/early twenties really is a time of immaturity and maybe later they will grow up and start looking to settle down.

Some of us never go through that phase. I have always taken my life seriously (perhaps a little too much) from day one. The kind of growing up I had to do was different: learn to accept the things I can’t change, learn to cope with chronic illness, learn to do the things that frightened me, learn not to be steamrolled by every single emotion. My husband walked through fire with me. Very few people would do that.

Since I’ve been with him, I’ve met two guys I could fall in love with under different circumstances who I am confident would have loved me right back. But neither of them fits my needs/personalities/strengths as well as my husband does. I’m not a religious person, but I don’t know how to explain it other than fate. He is that gentle, compassionate, intelligent guy that every woman says they wish they had – and he embraces all the levels of my personality, including the ridiculously childish and silly side. I would be freakin’ nuts to walk away from that. I can still barely believe I found him and he’s here and he actually wants to be with me.

I’m not advocating for young relationships per se–Og knows the number of impulsive marriages by young people are legion. I just think certain kinds of young people have a warped idea of what a serious relationship is, or somehow think you can’t be free and in a relationship. My relationship liberates me. I think if you find someone that important to you, and you walk away from them at any age, you’re probably a little bit masochistic.

ETA: Happy birthday, Tako.

I think the best response I’ve heard from this came from some comedian the name of whom I’ve forgotten:

“What we used to call ‘being in love’ and now call ‘being codependent’.”

Who says I don’t have one? I think there’s a false dichotomy in there that being in a relationship or being married for a long time someone eliminates one’s own identity. That’s nonsense, of course, and a sign of the times, IMHO. The focus on defining each person’s relationships and ‘sense of self’ gets in the way of actually living one’s life.

I’d sum it up with the fact that some people are commitment types and some aren’t. Some aren’t when they’re younger and grow into it. Some never do. One of my better friends these days is a politician who is about to turn 50 and isn’t married. He recently told me that, even though it’s a detriment to his career, sometimes he just has to try someone different. He knows it and deals with it.

Being married, or having a LTR, isn’t a goal for everyone. Nor should someone isn’t in one be thought less because of it. But some of us are, in very old-school parlance ‘the marryin’ sort’ as I apparently am. Even my girlfriends in high school (the last time I really ‘dated’) were all longer than normal…they were a series of six-month and longer relationships (it was the early 80s). I certainly had opportunities to have short term relationships and one-night stands and such but never had a real attraction to them. The sort of girls who were available for such never really got me interested.