‘They try to tell us, we’re too young…’ by Guest Blogger Amy McGuire

Young adults feel romantic love too.

There’s puppy love, a sweet crush, obsession with a member of the opposite sex, and even love at first sight.  While these are usually elements of romance that begin in our teens, they can and often do, extend into our adult lives.  But what about true love; the kind that says, ‘someday I’m going to marry him or her’ and ‘I want to be with him or her forever’?  Many adults say that teenagers cannot experience that kind of lasting love because they haven’t experienced enough of the world yet or the hardships that can make or break a relationship.  I don’t know about you, but some of the most intense feelings I ever had for a guy were in my teen years.  When I fell in love, it was with my whole heart.  When I broke up with a guy, that heart was shattered into a million pieces and I thought I would never love again.  To say that a teenager cannot experience or feel that kind of love is simply deflection.  What really needs to be said is that, while all the feelings are there and sometimes even a desire for commitment that can grow more as we grow older, what is lacking is maturity.  Our teen years are the most tumultuous because we are learning about our place in the world. 
We all have an innate desire to love and be loved.  Whether that is a desire for parental love, friendship, acceptance or a deep love with that one guy or girl we’ve had our eyes on since grade nine, we all experience that deep hunger for love.  One of the reasons I love to read and write about young adult romance is that the emotions are raw, honest and there is very little guile.  As we grow into mature, responsible adults, we tend to censor ourselves for the sake of society.  We no longer walk up to that guy or girl and tell them, ‘you’re hot’.  We no longer wait by the phone in agony if that guy or girl we met at the party last week still hasn’t called.  We tend to stuff our feelings a lot more as we grow up.  Either that, or we go to the other extreme and confuse lust with love, often making poor adult decisions. 
A part of young adult romance that I particularly enjoy is the innocence of first time love.  Many of us had our first real girlfriend or boyfriend in junior high or high school and have experienced that feeling of anticipation and giddy excitement when we know we’ll be seeing them again soon.  The heart pounds, the blood rushes in our ears, we feel faint and we can’t stop smiling.  An old boyfriend of mine coined the phrase, ‘perma-smile’ and I feel that describes the in-love teen’s expression perfectly.  The highs are so high and the lows are so low that falling in love is a genuine rollercoaster.  I don’t know of many things to beat a special smile from your first crush, a stolen kiss by the lockers when you think no one is looking or hearing the words, ‘I love you’ for the first time and knowing you can happily say them back.
While young adults do not always love well, they do love fully.  Writing romance from a teenager’s perspective is both difficult and enjoyable.  The hero and heroines often have insecurities to overcome, decisions to make in regards to their own sexuality and whether or not to follow society like lemmings or create their own path through life.  This is the most fascinating part of all.  Remembering our own hopes, dreams, successes and failures as teens and learning from them as adults.  What decisions in regards to love did we make back in junior high and high school that affect how we view our relationships later in life?  How willing are we to take a chance on love in a world that steadily tells us that the only love is lust?  And how do we tell the difference?  Do we listen to our parents or our peers?  Do we strive to find that one person who we feel completes us or are we content to bounce from one relationship to another?  And do we really think that only adults can experience true love?  Are we willing to step in and guide our teens through this scary, exciting and often fantastic time of life when love can be experienced for the first time? 
I hope to never forget about the love I experienced as a teen.  Those boys taught me many things about love, life and who I would become as a person.  Choosing the right relationship is tough.  That’s why I love to write about the whole trip, from beginning to end.  In adult romance there is much more expectation in regards to the sexual side of things.  In young adult romance I am able to write on a more emotional level and take a few walks down memory lane.  So, we’re not too young to be in love.  We’re just experiencing the first part of what can become a lifetime of joy, decisions and commitments.  The best way to love is to love fully and to love wisely.  I hope my readers will see these qualities in my characters.

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