They were the type of couple that convinced everyone they would be together forever. They weren’t just individuals but deemed a “we” by teachers and even Mrs. May, the darling woman who worked in the front office. It did not matter we were only in high school; these two were meant to be. They broke the stereotype of high school sweethearts not lasting past the summer after graduation. Their families became one. They sat together at sporting events and even ate Thanksgiving dinner together. The boy even hung out at the girl’s house when she wasn’t home. If that wasn’t love, I didn’t know what was.
As a culture, I am convinced we don’t talk about intimacy as much as we should. I’m not talking about sex; although I think that is also a part of the problem. I’m talking about the type of intimate conversations that draw people together and make them feel bound. I cringe each time a friend tells me about a partner who has shared something “they have never shared with anyone else.” I hear the excitement in my friend’s voice; they feel trusted, special, wanted. What more do you want from someone you are attracted to? Intimate information is relationship collateral. I try to form ways to eloquently state this when that same friend calls back, confused why this person who shared something so personal, is getting distant. It takes courage to reveal something intimate, but I believe it takes even more courage to move forward after realizing someone you thought could be trusted, now carries this information with them, and can do what they please with it.
The thing is, I’m guilty of this too. I too want to feel trusted, special, and wanted. Sometimes the want for these things becomes a game of tennis; you share something personal, I’ll share something personal. This match maybe even becomes like the oppression Olympics: who can share the most personal details. This reminds me of a game of two-square I witnessed in fifth grade; the opponents were arguing over who had a worse life. With each throw of the ball, they would throw down a personal trial they were experiencing. “I had surgery in second grade!” “My uncle is dying of cancer!” “My parents don’t sleep in the same room anymore!” This memory never ceases to amaze me. At the age of ten, we already know the impact intimate details have on others perceptions of us.
To be honest, I have no idea where the line is. One side of the line being “I’m sharing this information with you because I genuinely trust you,” and the other being “I’m sharing this information with you because I want to feel something deep.” The even more difficult aspect of this is how difficult it is to recognize when we are doing the latter.
The truth of the matter is that we don’t just do this with dating. We do it with friendships. When you disclose something traumatic and personal, the disclosure experience is extremely important to the healing process. If the disclosure does not receive the response they are looking for from disclosing, a negative impact will be felt. Because of this, I seriously worry about the person disclosing.
Thinking back to Dan and my romantic first kiss, it would be easy to hear that story and assume alcohol, a dark basement, or a combination of both is the reason I have no recollection of what his face looks like. I realize now that’s not it. It goes back to my desire to feel trusted, special and wanted. In a room full of sorority girls, I hoped to feel the most special and the most wanted. I was so selfishly focused on that, I wasn’t even paying attention to Dan and what his face looked like. I fear that when we focus on the details that have “never been shared with anyone else” we don’t focus on the person sharing them.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel something deeper. There is nothing wrong with wanting to grow closer to someone. When we begin to care about someone, we want to know everything about them; what makes them tick, what made them who they are today. But we need to be careful. It can really hurt someone if they share something with you and you aren’t ready for what they tell you. or vice versa.
Some girls get their first kiss in middle school and others don’t until college. It takes some people up to a year to say “I love you” and only a week for others. This is all to say that every relationship is different, and there is nothing wrong with that. A healthy relationship with make you feel trusted, special, and wanted. If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what is.
Featured image via India Earl