Ask Jono: Should I Pursue a Relationship That's Destined To End?
I recently started dating a really cool guy. He's incredibly intelligent and funny, and I love being around him. The only problem is, he's younger than me (I'm a junior, he's a freshman). Now I know age is just a number, and the only thing that should matter is how we feel about each other. But lately, it's concerning me about how I'll be leaving for college a lot sooner than he is. I don't want to leave him behind, but I don't really like the idea of long distance relationships, so it seems like we'll have to break up. And I know it's super early to be worrying about this, but I just can't get it off my mind.
I don't want to break up with him, but should I be pursuing a relationship that's destined to fail anyway? Should I just go with the flow and see what happens? Or should I deal with the heartbreak now? I don't want to get really attached to him before I leave, because wouldn't that just make the heartbreak worse? Got any advice to put my mind at ease? Anything would be very much appreciated.
I rarely use the phrase "trust me," because I usually end up following it with the phrases "Oh God whoops" and "I am so sorry," but trust me, you should go for it. I've talked about this sort of thing before, but I always have more to say on the topic, because I believe pretty strongly that you should enjoy what you have now instead of rejecting it due to possible sadness later. As they say, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (although I have generally found that grabbing an expensive bird in your hand will usually just get you thrown out of the bird store).
I'm going to give you some pros and cons here, but we both know there's really only the one con. I will do this anyway, to make my point, and I hope you'll come to the same conclusion I did.
Pro: You love being with him
If he's smart and funny and all that stuff, and you love being with him, then you should continue to be with him. There are a lot of Sparklers out there—and humans, and organisms—that really want what you have, and would take it regardless of its shelf life. Somewhere out there, a lonely amoeba is just wishing it could meet a nice guy, but instead it sits in its room listening to Fall Out Boy and engaging in binary fission. Don't throw away something potentially meaningful just because it won't last forever.
Pro: Relationship experience
I would never advise anyone to date solely for experience, because it's completely unfair if you're leading on some poor saddo just so you can more effectively date cute boys in the future. But I'm listing pros, and this is one of them: if you get a few relationships under your belt now, you'll never find yourself on a date with too little under your belt, which will metaphorically cause your pants to fall down. Having relationships with different kinds of people will better prepare you for dealing with the many baffling romantic scenarios that life with throw at you later on.
Con: It will (probably) have to end
Even though it's not guaranteed, I grant that it's likely you will eventually have to end this. But you know what? Every relationship ends eventually. Unless you start dating someone right now, and stay together until you are 99, and die in the ear 2095 because of Terminators (which is probably not a very good way to go), one person always has to say goodbye at some point. I know this sounds like a morbid train of thought, but I don't mean it that way at all. No relationship lasts forever (and even fewer high school relationships), so I have to ask: how much time would have to be available for you to give this a shot?
For the record, I used all of my internet wizardry and professional Googleology to locate some high school dating statistics for you, and according to this Doctoral thesis, the length of the average high school relationship is six months. Now, this is just one study with a small sample size, but it illustrates my point: you have more time left with this guy than the average teenage relationship lasts anyway, so why not see where this goes? (The shortest relationships that the study bothered to count lasted only two weeks, but personally I am biased, and think you should go for it if you have anything longer than 30 seconds, which is the length of an enthusiastic goodbye makeout.)
Pro: A relationship being over doesn't render it meaningless
Okay, yes, you will be sad if you get attached to this guy and have to end things with him. But that risk exists at the outset of any relationship anyway. You'll get over it as well as anyone else does—better, probably, since you'll be prepared for it, and the breakup will be on good terms, instead of with the two of you screaming and throwing kitchen utensils at each other. Some people might disagree with this whole answer, but to me, this is pretty much all life is anyway; you're supposed to live it, not defer it until every single variable in the situation is exactly ideal. No matter what happens, you'll always have the good parts of these relationships; you can choose to get mopey over them, or you can remember them for what they were and for everything they've added to your life.