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Today my First Boyfriend Turns 41
Teen Couplephoto © 2008 Jason Meredith | more info (via: Wylio)

Isn't it strange that I still remember my first boyfriend's birthday? We dated when we were 14, for a grand total of about 6 months or so. I was in grade 10, and I felt so important because I had someone who liked me. He gave me a necklace for Christmas that year and I never took it off.

I eventually broke it off with him (although I think he was about to break it off, too), because I had gone to a retreat where they were talking about purity, and I decided that our relationship wasn't going in a good direction. I needed to focus more on God. He agreed, and that was that. We remained good friends until I left for university, when we lost track of each other. He found me on Facebook a few years ago, and a while back, while going to a speaking engagement, my girls and I dropped in on him and his wife and I met his little kids. It was nice to see him all grown up.

He was always a nice boy, and now he's a nice man, but oh, how I wish I hadn't dated when I was a teenager. Looking back, I still almost cringe, thinking of all the ways I made a fool out of myself because I just wanted people to like me.

One's first "love", if you want to call it that, really does impact your life from then on out. It determines how you see yourself, and the more that you give your heart away, the more it hurts. I wish I could have been a strong enough person to not date as a teenager. I wish I could have waited.

My girls have both determined to wait until they're older, although my 16-year-old has gone back and forth with dating over the last few months. I think she still wants to wait, because she doesn't see the point in dating if you're not in the position to marry, something which I have preached to her for quite a while.

It's not that I'm just worried they'll get too physically involved, although obviously that is a factor. I really do trust them. It's just that I SHOULDN'T be able to remember this guy's birthday, and yet I do, because of the emotional impact that relationship had on me. Does that make any sense? I don't want my girls to date someone for three years, and then break it off, and feel hurt.

It's not just that I want to spare them hurt, though. It's also that I want them to figure out who they are without reference to someone else. So much of my teenage life was spent trying to figure out how to please guys that it took me a long time to figure out who I was and who God wanted me to be. I was completely caught up in other people, and worried about my future, and worried that if no one dated me no one would then want to marry me, and on and on. I would have been better off if I had just waited for university. I would have been better off if I could have trusted that God would bring the right person at the right time. I was always trying to rush Him.

I read a study recently that showed that one's chance of divorce increased if one's age at loss of virginity decreased:

Sociology professors at the school found that women who first had sex before age 16 were more likely to get divorced than those who had waited till after turning 16.

How much more likely? Of the female subjects who'd had intercourse at 15 or younger, 31 percent divorced within five years of marriage, and 47 percent split up within 10 years. While the women who had waited till at least 16 had divorce rate of 15 percent at five years, and 27 percent at 10 years.

This is hardly surprising; I've been telling people on this blog that waiting until you're married for sex is really the best thing you can do. God designed sex that way for a purpose.

But it is not just about sex; I think it is also that when we give our hearts away too young, it does damage to us at some level. It's better to wait, and to tell your kids that you expect them to wait. I wish I had. But nevertheless, I wish that man a happy birthday. He is a good guy--and I'm glad he found a great woman.

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At 12:09 PM , Blogger Tessa said…

I still remember my first boyfriend's birthday too. And I wish I didn't date him. I don't think people understand how dating can lead you to believe that you should be treated a certain way, or only deserve to be treated a certain way. It was tough for my husband and I to move past those feelings and I had a hard time learning that I could trust my husband and that he truly did love me for the right reasons. I hope that my boys decide the same as your girls: there's no point in dating until you're ready to get married.
Also, cute picture :)


At 12:24 PM , Blogger Mary said…

Wow, that took guts to post that. These relationships when we were just "kids" do affect us. In bygone days, it was not uncommon for young ladies to be married at 15 or 16, or even 14. Nowadays, few girls have the maturity to be married at such an age, but their hearts are affected nonetheless by these dating relationships. I also find it alarming that people are finding old flames in the internet these days. It stirs the memory and possibly the heart. We live in perilous times. Thanks for the post.


At 2:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

This has nothing to do with anything, but when you talked about breaking up with your boyfriend after a retreat is reminded me of this Stuff Christians Like blog post:

Anyway, I totally agree with you. What's the point of dating if marriage isn't an option? I didn't date anyone but my husband, but I even regret all the silly crushes I had on boys before then and how much time I spent trying to get them to like me. I also remember the birthdays of a couple of the guys I liked, and I always feel a little annoyed on those dates because I'm reminded of how stupid I was over those boys. Allowing kids to date before marriage is an option just teaches them that dating is just for recreation, for fun, all about getting something from the other person, instead of pursuing the possibility of marriage.


At 6:23 PM , Blogger Herding Grasshoppers said…

Very wise, Sheila :D

A couple thoughts...

I think it was Voddie Baucham who said something to the effect that we don't really have any business dating until we're ready to marry. (Not that we ONLY date the one we marry, but that there's no point in starting the process before it can be finished.) Further, you shouldn't marry until/unless you are prepared to parent. You might plan on waiting a while for children, but life has its surprises, yah?

So we really have no business dating until we're prepared to marry and raise a family.

Which definitely precludes the "sport dating" I experienced in my younger days.

But my second thought is this: hurray for you! The fact that you CAN see your old boyfriend and meet his wife and kids without guilt and shame on both sides is because you DID wait for sex.

I am still in (occasional) contact with my first boyfriend - who is also married with children. We joyfully attended each others' weddings and have visited once or twice, though he now lives two states away. And we can have that pleasant, low-key friendship because we don't have guilty memories that would cause our spouses to distrust us. (Any communication is open to our spouses, btw.)

So while I'm definitely with you, in encouraging our children to WAIT TO DATE, I'm also encouraged that it isn't all bad, either.



At 8:39 PM , Anonymous Christine said…

Hi Sheila! I came across your blog almost by accident today, but I'm glad I did. I was encouraged to read about someone else who was concerned about purity and her walk in God as a teen, and who thinks in some ways, there really isn't much point in dating if you're not old enough or ready to marry. (I meet relatively few people these days who hold that view, even in some churches I've attended, and sometimes I feel too much like the only one who thinks that.)
I do wonder sometimes though. I'm 36, and I never did marry. I took purity very seriously, and have never really had a boyfriend. I was probably not really a fit for the married life anyway, so having stayed celibate, like the biblical Paul, was likely the best fit for me.
Sometimes I wish though, that at some point in life, I'd had a boyfriend, or something a bit romantic in my life that now, well into adulthod, I could treasure. I sometimes feel as if I missed out on the whole romance/dating thing a little too completely. Maybe a relatively chaste boyfriend/girlfriend relationship in my teens wouldn't have been so bad.

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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