16 years old may be just a few years ago for you–or even a couple of decades–I think just about everyone has regrets from this age, especially when it comes to romantic relationships. At 16, we were so naive and inexperienced, even though we think we already know everything. Being in love is so amazing and new, and sometimes, we give up too much of ourselves while chasing down that feeling of love. If you could go back in time and have a heart-to-heart talk with your 16-year-old self, what what you say? Here are some pieces of love advice that I’m sure we all wish we could go back and tell our 16-year-old selves, to save ourselves a lot of wasted time and unnecessary heartache.
1. Don’t ever change yourself for a guy.
We’re still in the very formative stages of our lives when we were 16. We aren’t quite sure who we are yet ourselves, which makes it far too easy to let a guy influence us. Sure, it feels good that someone is showing us attention, and it’s understandable that we want to do everything we can to hold on to it. But the thing is, we shouldn’t have to change ourselves just to please a guy.
2. Sex is not equal to love.
Too many 16-year-old girls have been pressured into sex earlier than they felt ready because their boyfriend used the words, “but don’t you love me?” Our 16-year-old selves need to know that sex is not equal to love. You can love someone and still not be ready to sleep with him, and it is your right to say no. Any guy who would try to pressure you into sex before you’re ready using these words doesn’t truly love you–if he did, he’d respect you enough to wait.
3. Your love life should not be your priority.
There are very rare cases where high school sweethearts end up marrying each other, but it’s far more likely that the guy you date when you’re 16 isn’t the guy you’re going to end up with forever. Because of this, it’s important not to focus too much on your love life and neglect more important things as a result, like your family, friends, school work, and just having fun. At 16, dating is mostly just a learning experience; it’s practice for future relationships when you’re more sure of yourself and what you want.
4. It’s okay to enjoy being single!
As a 16 year old, it’s hard to enjoy being single when all of your friends are having their first, second, or third relationships. You might wonder if something is wrong with you, and that’s why you’re not with someone. I wish I could tell my 16-year-old self that it’s okay to not be in a relationship. Some 16-year-old girls are willing to date any guy who shows them a little flattery just because they don’t want to be left out of the dating scene–and that leads to heartbreak when he turns out not to be worthy. To all of our 16-year-old selves, it’s okay to just enjoy being single and not stress out about dating!
5. You deserve to be treated well.
The most important piece of love advice that we should all give to our 16-year-old selves if we could is that we deserve to be treated well. Too many inexperienced teenagers find themselves victims of jerks, cheaters, and abusers, and no one should settle for that. You deserve to be treated like a treasure, valued and taken care of. When a guy tells you he loves you but doesn’t treat you like you’re important, you don’t have to accept that. If a guy makes you cry more than he makes you smile, it’s time to end that relationship and stop wasting your time with someone who doesn’t deserve you.
To all the 16-year-old girls out there who might be reading this, please take this advice to heart. Everyone is going to have plenty of heartbreak at your age, and heartbreak is part of the whole learning experience, but you don’t need to put yourself through any more than is absolutely necessary. By following these pieces of advice that all of us in our 20s or older wish we would have known, you can focus on what’s really important: enjoying your teen years, whether you are in a relationship or not.
Featured Image screencap from The Perks of Being a Wallflower courtesy of Summit Entertainment