I’m 21-Years-Old and I'm in My First Relationship

“Really? That’s weird.” Those were the exact words that came out of my now boyfriend’s mouth when I told him that I had never been in a relationship. Those were also the exact words that came out of my now boyfriend’s mouth approximately three minutes before I decided to start dating him exclusively.

You might be asking yourself why I would choose to date someone who called me weird, or my life experiences weird. But was he really wrong? According to The Atlantic, the average age an American loses his or her virginity is seventeen. It can be inferred that the average age of a first relationship happens in the years surrounding seventeen. Most people I know had their first relationship in high school or even middle school. So you can see how never having had a boyfriend, as a senior in college, would be considered to be rather out of the ordinary.

As a teenager, I felt like an oddball around my friends. When it came to relationships, dating and romance, I could only live vicariously through others. You should know this was not by choice; in fact my lack of love life was not for lack of trying. As far back as I can remember I have been interested in boys. To accepting a marriage proposal from a boy in Kindergarten to flirting with boys during recess in middle school–boys caught my attention at an early age. In fact, if you ask my mother, I had my first crush at age two who was a character on Barney (naturally).

It would only make sense, as the emotional and oftentimes insecure teenage girl I was, that I decided that the reason I did not have a boyfriend could only be explained by one thing: There was something wrong with me. I wasn’t enough of something. Pretty enough. Funny enough. Sexy enough. Outgoing enough. It was like I hadn’t been allowed access into a club that not only my friends had gained access to, but also the whole world. I mean try turning on the television and not seeing the storylines revolve around relationships. Try going to a teen movie and have it not end with the girl finally getting with the guy in the end. Seriously, try.

According to Hollywood, teenage drama is centered on teenage girls and teenage girls’ lives revolve around boys. This idea was manifested so perfectly in one of my favorite not-so-guilty-pleasure movies, John Tucker Must Die.

“You're either obsessed with destroying him... or obsessed with dating him. Either way, it's always all about him…”

Bravo cheesy teen rom-com, you hit the nail on that one. So maybe I wasn’t trying to take down a popular jock like Kate, but the same idea applied to my life and my group of friends. They were either obsessed with getting a guy or obsessed with having one. And in my case, well, I was just obsessed with not having one. Unrequited “love” was something I knew all too well and I was convinced that what I was missing in my life was a boyfriend.

It’s funny how wrong a person can be. It wasn’t until college that I embraced my singleness and stopped looking for my “other half,” which is good because now, four years later, I don’t believe such a person exists. I am not looking to be made whole because I stopped considering myself incomplete. This change in thinking gave me plenty of room and time to get to know myself better. At the end of the day, the only guaranteed lifelong relationship we have is with ourselves, so why not learn to love myself?

The time I would have spent investing in a romantic relationship, I instead invested in friendships, school and furthering my creativity. I maintained close friendships with my high school best friends, and made lasting friendships with the incredible women I met in college. I didn’t do away with boys all together, because what fun would that be? Instead I took the pressure off and didn’t set out to meet a “soul mate.” I just had fun. And then I had some more fun.

I realized that all my teenage insecurities were unfounded. I was enough. Guys were interested in me. And slowly, as time went on, I stopped being shocked by that fact and became more confident. I was finally content as a single person. It had only taken me twenty-one years to realize that my worth did not depend on someone else’s ability to see it.

Now when I think about my boyfriend, I don’t wish I had met him sooner, because I’m not sure if that girl would have been ready for him. And I’m also not sure if he would have wanted to be with that girl. I’ve always believed that everything happens for a reason and maybe the reason for my non-existent love life during my teenage years was to teach me how to be happy on my own. Maybe I wouldn’t be as independent, resilient or strong if I had been hopping from one relationship to the next during my formative years. Maybe I had to go through all that self-doubt and lovesickness to become the person I am today. Maybe I had to long for the wrong guy before I met the right one.

You know that really annoying quote that says, “When you stop looking for someone, that person will find you?” Well as much as I hate to admit it–for me, that quote was true.