Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pacing a teenage romance

I recently finished reading a highly anticipated YA novel, and while I enjoyed it, I had a problem with the pacing of the romantic relationship. It took fooorrrreevvveeerrr. Yeah, just like that. And on top of that, their interactions were extraordinarily brief and somewhat shallow, in my opinion. (Well, they were teenagers, so I suppose that is realistic)

On the other hand, I've read YA books where the romantic relationship moves at light speed. Ten pages in and they're in love and ready to run away together.

In my opinion, real teenage relationships fall somewhere in between. Yes, teenagers have intense feelings and tend to rush into things, but they are also for the most part incredibly insecure and afraid of said intense feelings not being reciprocated, so they tend to make absolutely sure of the other person's interest before admitting their own feelings.

The following steps apply to romantic relationships in modern day America, and may have to be adjusted for dystopian/sci-fi/fantasy genres.

1. The crush. The initial awareness of the other person's existence. Usually one-sided. Noticing of desirable physical or personality traits.

2. The "accidental" meeting. In high school, I memorized my crush's schedule so that I could casually be standing in a spot I knew he would pass on his way to his next class. Or made friends with guys on his sports team as an excuse to go to his game. Or happen to show up at the same after school spot where he hung out. If all goes according to plan, at this step the crush will become two-sided.

3. The first hang-out sess. Usually in a group setting, although some one-on-one time can be created. At this time, phone calls and texting are initiated.

4. 3rd party intervention. Friends on either side are made aware of crush and possible long-term interest and seek out confirmation of reciprocated feelings from other party, either directly or indirectly. This is the most important step, as the rest of the relationship hinges on whether or not both parties receive confirmation of like feelings.

5. The date. This can include simply sitting together at lunch if actual first date is not possible, or can include a one-on-one trip to the movies/mall/ etc.

6. Making it official. Facebook, that is. After this, public displays of affection and possessiveness are acceptable. Hating of jealous exes is appropriate, complete isolation from friends often ensues as the relationship gains in intensity and importance.

7. Complete and utter devotion