By: Miriam Tanenbaum
Is there an age where we are not yet ready to love? Can we be mentally or physically unprepared to love, in any of its forms? I mean, at the end of the day, what is love? Baby don’t hurt me. Don’t hurt me, no more. That was a test. If you didn’t get that, you are too young to fall in love.
On a more serious note though, no, there is not an age where you are too young to fall in love. However, our definitions of love change overtime. So the love you may feel for someone at age fifteen may be drastically different from what you’d feel for someone at thirty-five. Or maybe the emotions feel similar, but how you act on that love or what informs that love is different. Scientifically speaking, our brains are not fully formed until the age of twenty-five anyway, but that doesn’t mean what you feel at a younger age is any less legitimate or real.
While a younger age will not stop these feelings from occurring, our behaviors change as we age. When you are older, you are more likely to have a clearer sense of self that is not as easily compromised by a partner. When you’re younger, your identity is rapidly forming, and that can be greatly altered or informed by other people. You should never change who you are for a relationship, but someone younger may not fully absorb what that means yet ー because they are still figuring out who they are.
In middle school, the ultimate romantic gesture may be putting notes in a locker. In middle age, the ultimate romantic gesture may be picking up delivery from that new Italian place on the way home from work. Each of these techniques are fully legitimate and meaningful, and one does not detract from the other in any way. To call one a certain act of love, but not the other would be a disservice to both. A romantic gesture is one where romance was the intent behind it, and it was received as such. What we find romantic or loving evolves at different stages in our lives, as does the rest of us. But if you’re feeling butterflies at any age, go ahead and take a look here for some smooching advice. And if it gets further than that, be sure to exchange STI information on Safely.
At certain stages in your life, the most attractive features in a potential mate could be more physical, more mental, more monetary, or any other number of things. Regardless of age, you must make sure you have a distinct and concrete sense of self before falling into bed (literally and figuratively) with someone else. It’s a disservice to the other person, and most importantly a disservice to you if you compromise who you are just for the sake of a relationship. There’s a reason my mom didn’t let me see Grease until I was 14. In the end, Sally or whatever foregoes everything she is to drive to Heaven with a Scientologist. My mom didn’t want that for me, and I don’t want it for you.