But Dad I Love Him

Words by: Tricia Rivera
Art by: Ying Xuan

It was Christmas when I told someone I loved them; I was 15 and had these horrifying red and green coloured braces on.

Young love is a funny thing, it seems silly and frivolous, but don’t rain on the hormone-frenzied parade.

I know it’s hypocritical of me to be judgemental when I see 13-year-olds declaring their love for each other in their Instagram bios, because I used to do the exact same thing. I’m snarky about it, no doubt, but I also think there’s something so wonderfully awkward and wholesome when dating on the brink of your teen years: the wide-eyed glances, the sweaty-weird-hand- holding, the first kiss that you think is going to be magical but just turns out to be an amusement park of saliva.

But in all seriousness, it is this kind of pre-pubescent relationship, in all its awkward glory, that has shaped me into who I am today.

I’ve been with the same person since I was 15 years old, and I still remember when we met. It was in math class, I had ombre hair that offered no gradient between my natural black hair and its blonde ends, and he had a rather shameful bowl cut. We sat on opposite sides of the classroom and I would laugh at every joke he’d tell.

But now, with both our hair salvaged (thankfully), and my people- pleasing traits subsided, I can say the best part of our young love is that I have grown up with him. To be with someone that long through pivotal moments in my life meant I had a supporter beside me in all my endeavours and throughout all the times I’ve wanted to scream into my pillow and disappear.

Besides making me happy, my relationship let me know that someone was not only there for me, but there for everything I wanted to do, and that made me feel valued.

I was always one to think twice and ask questions like am I good enough to do this thing? or what would others think of me? but having the unwavering support of my partner made me feel so sure of myself. For every job interview, I’d call him to dispel my nerves and he’d answer, listing all the reasons why I’m qualified. For every piece of writing I’d put out, he’d be the first to share it and really read it — he’d even remember the tiniest details I’d written about.

My point is not to guarantee you a long-lasting relationship at 15 (not that a lot of people want that anyway), but rather to say that if not love, connection is possible and real for young relationships, and shouldn’t be undermined.

You’ll always learn something from your high school relationships. Maybe one of your partners helped you be more sure of yourself? Or pushed you? Maybe they were just straight-up shitty and now you know what you want and don’t want in a relationship.

Either way, at the end of the day, any healthy happiness derived from a relationship (romantic, platonic, or with your cat) shouldn’t be drowned by the judgement of an outside spectator.

I say go for it, let life run its course, and don’t take shit from anybody.

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