Something that breaks my heart time and time again is witnessing a friend shed anguished tears over a relationship that was doomed from the start.
In my years at Blake, I have seen my fair share of borderline predatory upperclassmen taking advantage of the naiveté of inexperienced underclassmen for their own selfish pursuits of pleasure. This also applies to college students and older men on their embarks for dominance.
Speaking from experience, it feels extremely gratifying to have someone to rely on for rides and money to blow on whatever fast food craving you have at anytime you want. I have personally felt those urges to change who I am just to impress an older lover and feeling validated when they do something as simple as offer me their time.
In cases like this, life is all good and dandy with your new boo, until they make you feel like you owe them something for the way they’re treating you, whether it be submission or sexual favors.
From the beginning, there exists an inherent imbalance of power and maturity. As much as we would like to believe that we are mature young adults, there is still not enough we have learned about this world that warrants us having mature adult relationships. What emotional fulfillment could a still-developing high school sophomore possibly serve for a career-juggling college junior?
As a high school freshman, your struggles of getting used to the new class environment might seem like child’s play compared to a senior who’s juggling a full AP course load with the hefty weight of college applications. A well-developed relationship should derive from shared experiences and struggles.
If you are in this position, establish boundaries and make them concrete from the get-go. Acknowledge that you’re not in a typical high school relationship and verify what you two really mean to each other. If you want to take it slow, don’t give your significant other an opportunity to convince you any different. Staying true to yourself is key to surviving such a typically parasitic relationship.
As my favorite Netflix series, Bojack Horseman, once taught me, “When you look at someone through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags.” I implore you all to take the glasses off and be real with yourself in any relationship. See it for what it really is without the giddy feelings and evaluate what you and your partner’s intentions are.
My best tip for recognizing these red flags: listen to what your close friends have to say about how your relationship has changed you. It’s easy to dismiss their advice as jealousy or invitations for petty high school drama, but they know you best. Listen when they tell you if you’ve been changing for the worse and adjust accordingly.
I leave my motherly speech off on one last note: know your worth and don’t let yourself get taken advantage of. Break the relationship off before it breaks you.