In my church, we don't date until we're 16 years old. I watched as lots of my friends started dating as soon as they started liking boys (although at 11 years old, "dating" usually meant holding hands on the playground). As I waited for what felt like forever for my 16th birthday to arrive, that First Date became a REALLY big deal in my mind.
I had a friend - a member of my church - who was seven months older than me. His family lived several states away and we usually only saw them once a year. What I did not know was that the summer he turned 15, he had a conversation with my mother.
He told her that he really wanted ME to be his first date. He asked for special permission to take me out after his 16th birthday, even though I would not officially be old enough to date yet. She gave her permission.
Then she promptly forgot about it.
He spent the next year thinking about it.
The thing with this particular boy was we had both liked each other a lot when we were 11 and 12 years old. I used to write his name in my notebook and dream of the day when we would get married. He and I would talk about the house we would own together and what we would name our children.
By the time I got to high school, I had outgrown that crush and had moved on to different romantic interests. I no longer had butterflies for him.
In fact, by the time his 16th birthday rolled around, I was heartsick over another boy. Ah, the angst of unrequited love!
We had planned a trip to visit them, which coincidentally happened to be in the weeks just after his 16th birthday. Our mothers were talking on the phone a few days before our trip, and his mother mentioned that he was looking forward to our date.
Since my mother had forgotten about her promise the previous year, she had never told me. As soon as she was off the phone, she told me.
I was less than thrilled.
On one hand, I liked the idea that I would be allowed special permission to have a date before I was 16.
On the other hand, I really didn't like that boy THAT way, and wanted my first date to be with someone I had more romantic feelings for.
I grudgingly picked out and packed an outfit I felt would be appropriate for a first date.
We drove straight through and arrived at their house in the late afternoon. Apparently, he had been so excited about our date that it had never occurred to him that maybe I wouldn't WANT to go out after such a long day.
When he informed me we were going out THAT night I was less than thrilled. I had been in a car all day long. It was late July. I was hot, tired, and felt gross. The last thing I wanted to do was cram myself into semi-uncomfortable clothes and spend alone time with a boy I wasn't crazy about.
Grudgingly, I changed clothes.
Grudgingly, I joined him in deciding what movie to see.
He wanted to see "What About Bob?" I thought the movie sounded stupid. (I finally watched it a few years later. It was really funny and would probably have been a better choice for that night.)
But I really wanted to see "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves." Always the gentleman, he let me make the decision.
In his state, kids couldn't get a driver's license until they had turned 16. He had not gotten his yet, which meant his dad was going to drive us to the movie. A little awkward, but I could live with that.
Little did I know the awkwardness was only beginning!
He was a good son, and his parents were very proud of him. Of COURSE they would want to capture the magic of his first date on video! As we got ready to get in the car, his mother grabbed the gigantic, 90's era video camera. She hung out the kitchen window with the beast of a camera on her shoulder so she could film the whole exciting thing!
My date was a gentleman. His mother had raised him that a gentleman ALWAYS opens the door for a lady. I was fully aware of the situation from a few summers earlier when we had spent a day going around their town visiting multiple interesting places. We all had to wait our turns as he went around the car opening and closing all four car doors as his mother, my mother, his sister, my sister and I would get in and out of the car. At every different location. The. Whole. Day.
So it was no surprise when I went to get into the car and he opened the back door for me. We stopped to turn back and wave when his mother requested it as she hung out the kitchen window with the giant camera on her shoulder. I got in the car, wishing we could just hurry up and get to the movie theater.
Then he felt bad that his dad would have to be a chauffeur and thought maybe we should all sit in the front seat instead! So he opened my door. I got out. He closed that door, opened the front door instead. I got back in. Meanwhile, everyone kept waving back and forth. I scooted into the middle of the bench seat. He got in, his dad got in, and thankfully, we were finally on our way.
The theater was PACKED. Everywhere around us, there were cute young couples holding hands and snuggling. Directly in front of us was a group of good looking boys our age who had come to the movie as a group.
The movie was romantic and I just kept wishing I was there with someone else. I wished I could sit with the cute boys in front of us, and I especially wished I could be there with the boy back home who was ignoring me. And throughout the movie, I kept hoping that my date wouldn't try to kiss me good-night and I wouldn't have to punch him for it.
Movie ended, his dad was there to pick us up. I was thankful the whole ordeal was over and we would go back to their house where I could go to sleep.
He determined that we needed to have some kind of memento for our wondrous first date.
Unfortunately, most stores were closed.
Except the grocery store!!
Off to the grocery store we went. His dad waited in the car while we wandered the aisles looking for the PERFECT thing to buy for this momentous occasion.
And the he found it.
He bought us each a rubber bouncy ball.
Thankfully, now we really were headed back to the house.
We pulled up to the house, and his dad quickly went in the back door so we could have some privacy.
Have I mentioned my date was a gentleman? A gentleman always walks his date to the front door at the end of the night. And thankfully for me, a true gentleman does NOT kiss goodnight on a first date. Apparently, a gentleman SHAKES HANDS on a first date!
He went to open the door. It was locked.
He made me wait at the front door - because that is the door a gentleman takes his date when walking her home - while he hurried to the back door, through the house, and opened the front door for me.
Thankfully, there was not a second hand shake.
It could have ended there, but it didn't.
The next day, I went out to the yard. They had a wonderful swing hanging from the branch of a huge cottonwood tree. The yard was shady and cool, and I had escaped to be by myself to journal about my awkward first date and how much I missed the boy who didn't care that I existed.
The peaceful silence was broken by the words "Oh there you are! I've been looking all over for you!" He spent the rest of the day talking my ear off and repeatedly asking me if I had enjoyed myself on our date.
I'm glad to report that he's happily married with six kids now.
Teen dating abuse can give scars that last a lifetime.
This is her story:
I started dating him in March of 2008, my junior year in high school - that June, we went camping with his family.
That's when the emotional and sexual abuse began. When everyone was out, we were taking a nap in the camper. He started touching me - I felt violated and powerless - I couldn't say "no" because I had nowhere to go.
We were that on-again off-again couple.
He made me feel dirty, like no one else would want me after what he'd done to me. He made me feel guilty for not reciprocating the sexual acts he did to me. I felt like a possession; an object to him.
In April of 2011, we were looking at engagement rings. One of the jewelers asked when he'd propose. He said he'd propose before boot camp in June. It was like a train hit me. "I don't want to marry him! It's too soon!"
I explained that I didn't want to get engaged before boot camp, I'd wanted to be engaged for two years before we married. He was heartbroken - he didn't say so, but I saw it.
A couple of nights later, he told me he didn't see me as his wife before listing everything he hated about me: I was "just like my mom," I'm high maintenance. He couldn't make me happy.
I was in tears.
I felt like I couldn't do better than him - my self-esteem and self-confidence were destroyed. Rather than tell him off, I melted - told him everything I "loved" about him and begged him to stay.
Little did I know... he'd been playing online video games with another girl. He decided to pursue her, but keep me on the side.
His friends were always at his house; we never had time alone. He'd violate me, touching my breasts, messing around under the blanket, in front of his friends. He didn't want me to hang out with my friends - he wanted my life to revolve around his.
It made me mad so I tried talking to him, confiding in him, but he never had an opinion - he just listened. He never confided in me but confided in everyone else. After our fight, he pressured me to do things sexually I wasn't comfortable with. He manipulated, coerced me.
He began acting strangely, hanging out without me - his friends were more important. I just wanted to feel loved; like I was important.
In an attempt to keep him, I went against my morals and decided that even if he dumped me, I'd take his virginity. He acted like he "deserved" my virginity. Before he took my virginity from me, I asked if I was his first.
I knew he wasn't The One; it was all so wrong. I thought I'd spend the rest of my life with a person who wasn't right for me. He told me that the idea of "The One," didn't exist. I believed him. I felt no one would understand me, put up with me.
Three days after he took my virginity, I got my period and he was sad, disappointed. That evening shit hit the fan.
Memorial Day weekend, sitting on the couch, I asked him what was wrong? He was acting weird, distant, isn't my virginity what he wanted? His eyes wandered - I knew wasn't telling me something. I asked if there was someone else and he went silent, then nodded. I wanted to leave, I was sobbing. He grabbed me, on top of me now, holding me down so I couldn't leave.
I couldn't look at him.
"Was she your first?"
I punched him in the jaw.
I was in pieces. Love, trust, hope, shattered. Why would someone do this to me?
I thrashed underneath him, trying to get free, to run away, but this wasn't over.
We were both in tears on his front porch, his friends filed out, watching the end of our dysfunctional relationship. Why hadn't they told me?
He confessed he'd hoped I was pregnant. I tried to wrap my mind around it. Trying to justify staying with him.
"Will you stop talking to her?"
I could not live with that.
"Is she prettier? Does she have bigger boobs?"
He'd had sex with her because I didn't believe in sex before marriage. The next day, I went to a party at a mutual friend's house. She told me he'd had sex with the other girl all the time, he'd come over and talk sexual details.
Before that night, I was a strict goody-goody Christian girl, I didn't smoke pot, drink; I didn't want to be around those who did. I thought my morals made me better than everyone. I was wrong; naive.
At that party, I drank until I passed out. That summer, I went to a lot of parties, but I didn't pass out, sleep around, or wake up and say, "I don't know what happened last night." I just needed some time to discover myself; to let loose, to be carefree.
I accomplished that.
I went on a few dates until I met someone from church, my "dream guy." He was a complete player, knew what to say, everything I thought I wanted.
He was the last lesson I learned.
My dream guy treated me well. We spent a night with friends with a beach bonfire drinking. We fell asleep on the beach for awhile until he drove us back to his place. We spent the next day together lounging around. It was the epitome of a summer fling.
He didn't want a relationship, friends with benefits, so after two months, I was done. He pressured me to do things I wasn't comfortable with. Manipulated...again. Since he preferred drinking at the bar to hanging with me, I couldn't handle feeling that I wasn't worth the effort.
He taught me not to fall so fast, to avoid doing things against my morals to please someone else.
I didn't bother breaking up with him, I just stopped talking to him.
My ex sent me a letter and apologized. He was dating the girl he cheated on me with, they were engaged after six months. I saw him in his dress blues after boot camp, when I told him that he'd been an asshole; that we'd never date again.
I explained how he'd hurt me - he didn't care; he was glad I was hurt. His fiance knew he'd cheated, but she "put it behind her." They married in April 2012. Doubt I'll hear from them again.
I decided to go to a college party with my coworker in September of 2011. We waited in the parking lot for our host to let us in. Finally, he strolled up, smoking. I was introduced. He flashed his smile and I was intrigued. That smile. His face. His eyes.
I was spellbound.
Inside, he was playing beer pong, his smile seemed so familiar. He caught my eye, asked what I was looking at.
I yelled, "You look familiar!"
He couldn't hear, so he walked over, and chatted it up with me. He's smart, funny - we have the same sense of humor. His ex cheated on him too. I wasn't entirely sold - he could be another jerk-bag. When I was leaving, he asked for my number, which I gave.
I thought it'd be the last time I saw him.
Over the next two weeks, he courted me. He texted me, I visited him at work. I gave him a chance. It was effortless, natural. The beginning of something new, something I didn't know existed.
On our first date he picked me up and took me to a really nice restaurant. He held my hand, kissed me goodnight on the forehead. It was as though we'd known each other forever.
At the beginning of October, I told him about the last decent sunset of the season. He said he'd take me after work. I had no idea what was in store for me. We walked along the sandy beach, the colors in the sky like a painting. We took pictures as we headed towards the pier. At the end of the pier, I continued taking pictures.
After the sun finally set, he turned to me, holding my hands nervously, and asked me to be his girlfriend. I was all smiles. I was shocked, happy. I told him it was the best question he'd asked; I'd be happy to be his girlfriend, to be his.
On the drive home, he told me that my ex-coworker had told him that he knew a girl he thought was his type. I was that girl. My coworker was right
We've been together over a year now. All the struggles were worth it. Without those, I don't think I'd fully appreciate all that he does.
It's been hard to let go of the emotional and sexual abuse, to embrace the blessings in my life. My past haunts me - I need to work through my trust issues, and the guilt I feel.
It hurts my boyfriend that I can't trust him, but I'm afraid that at any moment, he could flip a switch. I know that's not who he is, he's my best friend, my lover, my soundboard, my everything, and I love him with all my being.
With him, it's okay to be the real me.
My boyfriend is the man my ex said didn't exist.
This happened I was a freshman in high school. I had a six-month relationship with a junior and I fell in love with him.
Of course, he broke up with me right before summer and I was heartbroken. I would do anything - try anything - to get over him.
In August, I started thinking about my ex-boyfriend more and more. One week, I was up late one night while all my friends were away. I got a text message from a boy that was in my ex-boyfriend's grade. I'd heard he wasn't the greatest kid but I wanted someone to talk to so I answered.
Later that night, around one in the morning, he asked me if I wanted to hang out. I was bored, so I decided to go and hang out.
Apparently he was looking for more than I was. He took me to his house and we went in his room. At first, we were just watching a movie and I didn't mind it. Then he kissed me, and started hooking up with me and everything.
I know I should have stopped there but I just couldn't.
He pulled off my pants and asked, "Are you ready?"
In my head I was like, 'ready for what?'
It's not like I'd never had sex before but it had never happened with a random guy that I talked to like once. He pulled off his pants and went for it.
The night ended - I would have done anything to get out of there. I'd never have gone out if I'd known what would end up happening. It's not even like I found this kid attractive!
I hated myself so much for what happened. I can't call it rape because it's not like I stopped him - I just hated it inside. I felt disturbed and disgusting in my body and in my mind.
A couple days went by and I couldn't keep it to myself. I needed to tell my best friends who know everything about me. They thought it was wrong, but they were there for me. I felt like they all thought I was a whore but they didn't treat me that way.
The next week, I didn't hear from the kid and I didn't know why. I decided to text him and see what was up. He answered and told me not to talk to him. I was so confused because I didn't think I did anything wrong. I found out the next day that he was back with the girlfriend that I had no idea about.
Now that school has started, I've seen him and he gives me the nastiest looks. I feel so disturbed every time I see him.
Apparently, I was just a one night stand. I'd do anything to take it back! I wish I'd stopped him.
It still haunts me.
Breaking up is HARD to do.
This is her story:
My freshman year was a wonderful time. On New Year's, I met the guy that would become the boyfriend I loved so much. He and I began talking for a couple months and eventually started dating.
I know it doesn't seem like a long time to say, "I love you," to each other, but I really did love him with all my heart and still do. I'm not positive if he meant it, but I think he loved me, too.
He took me to his Junior prom and even though he was sick - we had the best time. I took care of him all night because that's how much I cared about him. I would do anything for him and he knew that. He was always there for me with the struggles I had.
The best memory that I have was the day I came back from a ten-day vacation. When I got back to town, I went to his house, rang his doorbell. He held me for a long ten minutes. I loved every second of that night. I knew that I loved him and loved being with him.
Three days later, my boyfriend told me that he "gets into too much trouble" and "doesn't want me to have to handle it."
My heart was broken.
Everything I did for him went down the tube. I miss him so much. I always thought he was going to come back to me but he hasn't yet. Maybe he never will. Every time I see him, my feelings for him return and I can't handle it.
I miss him so much.
I cry every night. I know we only dated for six months but I fell for him hard. I would do anything to change how things ended.
I miss you R.T.
<3 I still love you.
How is it that a couple that are so insignificant, so vile, could affect me so deeply?
I never wanted her in my life. I never thought the actions of other people could affect me so deeply. Now, I've discovered I’ll be dealing with the after-effects of their actions for a very long time.
My first serious boyfriend cheated on me three years ago, back when I was in high school. I’ve moved on. It happened a long time ago, and I’ve healed from the betrayal. I’ve forgiven him, I've tried to forget, tried to move on with my life. I'm not dwelling, I don’t think. I mean, it happened in high school - I should be able to let it go.
Present day, I’m dating an amazing man. He is sweet, kind, and everything I’ve ever wanted in a partner. We are wonderfully in love and I see a future with him.
And yet, despite all of these wonderful things, I find myself doubting him. I feel tiny whispers of distrust, slivers of doubt.
Recently, he's made a female friend through an online gaming system. Now, he's given me no reason to believe that their friendship is anything more than platonic. Hell, she lives 3,000 miles away and isn't into guys. My boyfriend doesn’t hide that they're friends - I should be okay with this.
But I find myself worried about what could happen. I bristle every time he mentions her name, “Something’s going to happen,” a sinister voice whispers.
This sinister voice found a place in my head the minute I discovered that my high school boyfriend was cheating. This sinister voice planted roots after learning that my best friend had been cheated on, too.
I thought I could move past the betrayal. I thought I was stronger. Now I see that I'm always going to struggle. I'm always going to have to confront my insecurities; my distrust of my partner.
I've explained this to my current boyfriend. He understand where my insecurities stem from and he’s promised to be more tactful. It just infuriates me that I have these insecurities, especially after so much time has passed.
I did nothing wrong - I was faithful. And yet, I'm the one who will struggle every time my partner makes a friend of the opposite sex.
The past is never really over, is it?
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