Marianne Eloise
April 04, 2016 10:31 am
Author

I will always remember the moment I met my boyfriend of nine years: he turned around in math class and asked if I’d like to see him eat an entire piece of paper. I replied yes, of course I did, and he honored his promise. A couple of years later, at the tender age of 14, we made it official and set out on the course of true love. It turned out that he’d actually had a crush on me for two years, and that it took him a while to get up the courage to talk to me. But he did, and through mutual friends we hung out every day that summer making comedy videos. Because that’s how all great romances start.

Almost nine years later, we are now 23 and live in Brighton together with our dog, trying to make a living as creative types. We took similar courses, went to the same University (in our hometown), and then moved 150 miles away together to the beach. I never set out expecting anything more than a few months of intense teenage love followed by a possible breakup and awkward group hangs, but year after year I am pleasantly surprised. I think, at this point, he will probably stick around for some time.

There are a few things I’ve learned and noticed over the years, not least of which that to be around someone 24/7 you have to put your friendship first. Really — you have to be really, really good friends. I’ve been asked about 784 times if I think I’m missing out on anything by spending my formative years palling around with the same boy. My answer is always yeah, maybe, but the thing is, I don’t know what I’m missing and I’m having a really good time doing what I’m doing. Being with the same person since the young age of 14 also means:

Never having to explain.

Anything. Ever. Why I don’t eat meat. Who my Auntie Julie is. What so-and-so from school did to upset me. Who my first boyfriend was. Why I watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians, somehow, every single day. I don’t have to tell him who anyone in my life is, what music I like, or explain that I love my dog more than him. He just knows.

Always having someone to do stuff with.

Friends get busy. Family lives far away. But having someone fully locked into your life and means that you can always drag them out of bed for an adventure or even just a shopping trip. There’s someone you can take on nights out who won’t abandon you when they find someone cute at the bar. It’s kind of a nightmare if you like being alone, but it does mean never being lonely.

Having someone there for all the best parts of my life.

I have done some amazing things in my life that I really enjoyed: gone to tons of shows, graduated twice, visited California. I could have done all of this alone, or I could have had my long-time boyfriend and best friend at my side to see it with me and to relive the memories over and over. I preferred the latter.

And the worst…obviously.

Death, divorce of your parents, that terrible haircut you went with for a full six months. Being with the same person for such a long time means not having to reach out to a friend in tough times, because you already have someone right there with you.

Having the same friends.

This might not be the same with all long-term relationships, but we started out with a very similar friendship group. This meant that as we made new friends separately they usually joined the wider pool that we share, until we basically have no-one outside of that circle. It sounds suffocating, but it means we deal with all the same drama, go to all the same parties, and never get that dreaded can-I-bring-my-other-half struggle. It also means that he is blessed with a gaggle of cute girls fawning over him wherever he goes.

Growing up together.

You change a lot from the ages of 14 to 23. That goes without saying. Between those ages, you’re changing schools, graduating, making friends, going through changes with your body, just general life changes that are just so major. Having someone to do all that with you can make it a little easier. It also means that sticking it out for almost a decade during your formative years will take a lot of adapting and being super understanding. Luckily, my partner is super flexible, because I’m not great on that front. If you can change as much as anyone does through adolescence and still want to stick it out with the same person… well, I think that’s a pretty impressive feat.

Fighting a lot.

This one might not apply to you, if you’re lucky! But for us, there is often a kerfuffle of some description going on. It’s texting “WHY IS THIS STILL IN THE OVEN?” or shouting “why did you wake me up?!” it’s then getting over it really, really quickly – because who cares, in the grand scheme of things.

Sharing your life… and your chores.

Having someone up in your personal space at all times for nine years might seem like a little bit of a nightmare. That is until you realize that not only is someone in your house to accompany you on week-long Netflix binges and congratulate you on all your achievements, but to do their fair share of the chores. Laundry, washing up, bills, hoovering, pet care… all now only half your responsibility. Well, hopefully.

Getting better looking with time.

I kind of feel at this point someone who didn’t love me at my awkward 14-year-old emo phase doesn’t deserve me at my actually-learned-make-up adulthood. But my boyfriend did. He somehow saw someone whose primary fashion influence was Avril Lavigne and thought, “Yeah, nine years doesn’t sound that bad.” Plus, he got more handsome with the years, as you’d like to expect.

Having similar interests.

You grow up a lot between 14 and 23, discovering new exciting things. For me those things were often The O.C. or The Simple Life… and luckily, my boyfriend was there to cry over Marissa with me, too. See also: not having to explain myself.

Nothing is awkward anymore.

Ever. No more first date stumbles, no getting to know one another, no embarrassment. It’s walking around naked (if you choose), bathroom with the door open, no make-up, tell-all-at-all-times. It’s great. There is none of the pretense that I have to keep up in the rest of my professional/family/friend life. I don’t need to seem cool or put-together or adult. We are completely free to do what we want, and it’s awesome… if a little terrifying.

I never would have predicted nine years ago that I would still be here with that weird nerd from my classes. We are completely different people now, but somehow still sticking it out and laughing like we did in ninth grade. If you’d suggested to me the idea of staying with the same person for my entire adolescence I would have baulked, but actually, I feel pretty lucky that I’ve never had to get to know a whole new person and shed the memories of the old one. Plus, again, he lets me do whatever I want. That’s really important.

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