High school relationships help build a foundation

Photo credit: Diego Ramirez

Photo credit: Diego Ramirez

Anyone who says they truly understand how to maneuver the dating pool, with guaranteed success, is full of it, according to Viren Swami, professor of social psychology at Anglia Ruskin University.

In high school, college or otherwise, we all have our own confusing and frustrating experiences.

When it comes to clumsily navigating romance during formative years, my story is as enlightening as anyone else’s.

For me, dating and figuring out how to relate to a real woman, emotionally and physically, felt like learning how to ride a bike with no instruction.

It’s a messy business that’s full of self-discovery. Especially when all previous intimacy has come from mom’s Aveeno lotion, a tiny computer and a box of tissues.

Before high school, I cruised around on my bike with perfect balance. I knew girls existed, maybe even experimented a little bit, while maintaining my ignorance and independence.

But in high school, the training wheels popped off. Suddenly I’m a young adult, bumping and swerving through the dating game like I’m playing wheelchair basketball on ice. Less than satisfactory sexual locations and bra straps with tighter security than Fort Knox make the learning curve difficult.

Teen angst caused me to leave my safety pads at home. Hormones and an emotionally inexperienced brain left me a little less protected than I would have liked.

Looking around, there always seemed to be at least a few individuals making it through the mess unscathed, emasculating me every step of the way.

Why don’t I look like that? Besides being a head taller and twice my weight, what does that guy have that I don’t? Why aren’t women taking video game skills into consideration?

I always did have to learn things the hard way.

High school relationships managed to provide me with a foundation so I could take things to the next level in college. Even if that foundation felt thinner than ice.

In college, I’m peddling my bike a little faster, with improved balance. According to society, I’m an actual adult that’s living away from my parents for the first time. Bra straps no longer evade my understanding and I have my own room. It’s time to have some fun.

I guess there’s a reason why Hollywood often portrays college kids as attractive, young and nubile while high school movies stick to Michael Cera-looking individuals privately choking down wild turkey and talking themselves up to bathroom mirrors. I suspect, for most, reality lies somewhere in between.

Suddenly, a nail slipped into my tire, forcing me to stop, appreciate and embrace my new surroundings. Just when I thought I had things figured out, chemistry, true connection and love hit me in the gut like a middle school dodgeball.

Nobody ever taught me how to fix a flat.

Grant Schmieding can be reached at [email protected] or @G_Schmieding on Twitter.