Last night on Twitter, there was the #yalitchat feed that went through and primarily discussed YA Romance and where its placement should be. People were asking questions like:
"If my main character is 14, is it weird if she's dating an 18 year old?"
"Do writers have an obligation to write healthy relationships verses crazy stalkerish, I'd die for you?"
The questions and topics went round and round, but most stayed on, "What do you want out of YA romance?"
The question that really drew me into the topic was "What is the difference between YA romance and Adult?"
I answered the question saying that the biggest difference between teen love and adult love is the way we fall, or how willing we are to fall. I remember when I was 14-18 just falling all over myself for a boy. He could do no wrong. Even when my sisters told me he'd cheated on me, I refused to believe it (after all, how could he surpass me sexually if we'd never even gone that far?). Then the day before Valentine's Day, I found out the truth, and made him verbally tell me. I needed to hear it from him because he was the only person I would be willing to believe. (Stupid, right?)
Even after his admittance, we stayed together for another 2-3 years. It was hard and I was frequently angry and would pick fights, but I still loved him and believed that love could fix all things. I was so willing for some magic to happen the way it does for Disney, or in books....but real life is a little bit harder to deal with. Especially when you have outside pressures telling you how bad of a person he is, that you can never trust him...It wears on you, even if you try to fight it.
I graduated high school, and he was there taking pictures and giving me hugs and telling me he was proud of me. When I decided to attend a college 1,000 miles away, he was the one to pack me up and drive me out to Maine. At the time, I wasn't speaking to my sister, and he was the one to convince me to do so because "You don't know the next time you'll get to see her..."
He remained in Michigan and joined a fraternity, and pretty much cut off contact. Because I still had enormous trust issues with him, and let's face it, I'm needy and like attention, I couldn't deal with the distance. We officially ended between my freshmen and sophomore year of college (and strangely both graduated May of 2010. Keep in mind, he was a freshmen in college when I was a freshmen in high school). The final ending was really, really hard on me.
The reason why I'm telling you all of this, is to kind of show how willing I was to just let love overrun my life. For a long time I considered staying in Michigan to be with him, and we talked about him moving out to Maine with me. I skipped classes to hang out with him, I brought him to school dances. For those years, he was my entire world. And at the time I was okay with that...
When the decision came, I realized that if I remained in Michigan (which would have been solely to stay with him), I wouldn't amount to anything. And so I took the risk and grew up (as all good protagonists do), and moved because in the end I realized that it was what was best for me.
Here I am x-amount of years later without him, still stumbling around, much more hesitant to believe guys or trust them. But I'm making my way and growing on my own.
In the end, while relationship romance rocks in books, I really think the best love story, is the one where you learn to love yourself. (Which I am learning daily.)