Puppy Love: 5 Things I Learned From My Middle School 'Boyfriends'

by Cashie Rohaly

The word "cringeworthy" is a pretty sufficient way to sum up the overall sentiment when looking back at middle school relationships. Obviously these courtships do not usually have any legitimacy to be deemed an actual relationship, but they can teach us a lot about the real dating world we're about to enter.

While sharing the most painful stories with each other about middle school boyfriends recently, my friends and I thought about the guys we "dated" in the glory days of ill-fitting Abercrombie & Fitch.

I came to the realization that none of us had a clue what it meant to be in a real relationship, which almost made it easier to be with somebody than it is today.

Now that we are beginning to sincerely date (well, some of us are) and actually carry out the roles of an authentic relationship, I am noticing that we learned some lessons early on; we just didn't have a chance to apply them until now.

Sisters Over Misters

There was a time when I began "dating" a boy I knew my best friend had a crush on. When she found out that we were an item, she locked herself in a bathroom and refused to come out for quite some time.

I felt horrible, which was weird because I was a teenager with a boyfriend who slightly resembled Taylor Lautner. (Back then, Taylor was best known not for being in "Twilight," but for being Sharkboy and the hot kid in "Cheaper by the Dozen 2.") How could I possibly have a single negative feeling in my body and soul?

I soon realized that it was because I had made my best friend feel bad. Guys may come and go, but your true girl friends will be there for you with Ben & Jerry's and a shoulder to cry on when your relationships fall through.

After getting her out of the bathroom, my best friend supported me, though she didn't really need to since the relationship ended three days after it began.

As for her, we are still best friends today, and I now know that no guy (even one that resembles Taylor Lautner) can compare to the friendship we have.

Communication Is Key

If you had a "relationship" between 2005 and 2008 then do not even deny the fact that a majority of your relationship was via AOL Instant Messenger.

Each night after being excused from dinner and promising to my parents that I had done all of my homework (spoiler alert: I didn't), they would allow me to sign on as "Bballislove94."

It was on AIM that I would have the typical conversation with my boyfriends. Obviously our acronyms and shortening of the English language was not the biggest issue in our relationship; though, let's be honest: It was a pretty big issue.

Looking back at what I thought was a good way to converse with somebody, I realize it was nothing more than surface-level small talk. A relationship needs more thought-provoking conversation if it is ever going to survive.

Taking Your Time Is Not A Bad Thing

Sex was never an option in these middle school relationships because we were all still in a stage where the idea of a penis made us dry heave. Let's be honest: They're still pretty gross -- am I right, ladies?

I did make out with one middle school boyfriend about 20 minutes after we became "official." I felt liberated even though I knew I wasn't a slut, kind of like Emma Stone's character in "Easy A."

Still, the excitement of that relationship peaked early -- 20 minutes into the relationship to be exact. I acknowledged that I may have jumped the gun, so with my next boyfriend, I waited two months to kiss him, and despite its awkward and short-lived manner, it felt much more exciting and worthwhile.

People all work at different paces, and I learned that, at least for myself, it really is better to prolong the gratification in order to enhance a moment and feeling. Some relationships can hit the ground running, but middle school taught me that not everything has to go full throttle from the beginning.

A Break Up Is Not The End Of The World

In the sixth grade, my first-ever boyfriend dumped me after 21 hours. I remember crying and listening to "Teardrops On My Guitar" while writing in my diary how I felt like I would never be able to get over such a devastating blow. How could I go on when the love of my life no longer wanted me?

Sulking like Romeo, my mom told me these feelings would soon pass, and one day, I would laugh at the fact that I thought this was my only chance at love. As much as I hate to admit it, she was right.

If it weren't for these breakups, I wouldn't be writing an article about all the amazing lessons I learned from my less-than-stellar middle school boyfriends.

"Love," Is A Precious Word -- Don't Just Toss It Out There

Nothing discredits something's legitimacy like overusing it, especially words. Comedians who drop the F-bomb every other word sound immature and like they lack ingenuity. When a comedian perfectly launches an F-bomb in a creative and unique manner, it can actually enhance the joke.

The same goes for the L-word. I said, "I love you," almost immediately after beginning an immature relationship. I didn't have the slightest clue what being in love felt like -- hell, I still don't know. I just thought love was a part of every good relationship.

While it is an important factor, it doesn't happen overnight. Love appears when it is ready, and it does not need to be said every other minute to know that it is present. Love should be a verb, not a noun.

So, there's my ode to the junior high boyfriends whose names were always inscribed in my AIM buddy profile with multiple <3's surrounding them. Thanks for everything; I learned from you all.