In “Young Adult,” Diablo Cody’s new film opening Dec. 16, Charlize Theron plays Mavis, a divorced novelist who returns to her home in small-town Minnesota determined to rekindle a romance with her high school boyfriend. Mavis may have gotten older, but she hasn’t exactly grown up or figured out how to let go of the past, especially when it comes to her love life.
Let’s face it: generally the expectations and beliefs we have about love in high school are simplistic or just straight up wrong. Oh, how little I knew back then, but hopefully, if you’re not like Mavis, you’ve learned a thing or two. In honor of the release of “Young Adult,” here are seven things we’ve learned about love since high school.
1. Don’t be so quick to label things. In high school, two teenagers could meet for the first time in homeroom, be going steady by lunch, have their first fight between 4th and 5th period, and break up on the bus home. What’s the rush? It takes a while to get to know someone, so before you slap the boyfriend label on a dude, make sure you know his middle name, how he takes his coffee, and, oh, that you have a connection that last past football practice.
2. People change and so does your taste in them. It’s very possible that the guy you were obsessed with in high school will be a joke to you in a few years. But on the positive side, the guy you never paid attention to will look pretty good in 10 years. And we’re not necessarily talking physically, although that can be true too. No, it’s that what we liked in high school — for example, long hair, mysterious/aloof attitude, fake ID — loses its luster in the real world, and the guy who wasn’t busy making all the girls swoon in 11th grade had the time to actually excel in it.
3. Guys aren’t always the best at communicating. Luckily they get better. A lot of teen guys don’t necessarily have the same level of maturity that girls their same age do when it comes to relationships. It doesn’t mean that they’re bad people, or can’t be sensitive or loving. It just means teen girls should temper their expectations when it comes to stuff like communication and expressing themselves. Teen boys are not a demographic known for talking about their own feelings (which is a larger cultural problem), so guys may not be so eloquent/thoughtful when it comes to talking. Luckily, as they get older, some of them do get better at it. And some don’t. Seek out the former.
4. Cheaters cheat. And liars lie about it. Don’t expect you can reform someone who will do this to you. Oh, how many times have we seen some dumb teen girl stay with her dumb teen boyfriend after he cheats because “I lovvvvve him and he can be so sweeeeeet and he said he would never do it again.” Hopefully our cheating, lying high school boyfriend was the first guy to teach us that lesson, so we could move on.
5. A guy who really cares about your feelings won’t pressure you into sex. And that holds true just as much at 32 as it does at 17. Period. Besides, remember how fun it was to just make out?
6. All that energy spent obsessing, crying, writing angsty poetry about boys was such a waste of time. Unless it was good, in which case, channel that talent into writing something brilliant.
7. Relationships are far more complicated than we could have imagined. Relationships don’t work because two people found each other “totally cute.” They work because two people who found each other cute made the ongoing effort to listen learn, grow, adapt, compromise, and pick their battles. But as complicated as they may be, a loving relationships is also so much better than we could have imagined.
This post is sponsored by the movie “Young Adult,” in theaters Dec. 16, but the views expressed are our own.