Adolescent Love authenticity

Adolescent Love

6:00:00 AMCatherine F. O'Camb

Remember what it was like to be “boy crazy?” 

There seemed to be an endless amount of talk about the cutest boy in the class or about the boy you liked, who talked to you for the first time that day. Boys enchanted our premature desires to be loved and treated like a princess.  We always sought attention by the way we dressed our hair, arranged our outfits, and how we talked and acted around them. But at the same time, we became incapable of “being ourselves” and instead found a false sense of security in the midst of our insecurity. There was an innocent dependence on and trust in our only model of womanhood. As much as we might hope that this influence would be a mother, grandmother, or sister, there was always something stronger. Our model was an idea. An idea that was distorted, presenting the woman as independent of man, without a single imperfection.

Yet, we were made to love and have a yearning for love. At such an age, we turned to what was attractive, to that person who would satisfy our love. That cute boy would only notice me if he saw me as flawless! Little did we know, there was something much deeper tugging at our hearts, than the hope of getting a cute boy’s attention. We were trying to fill the unquenchable desire for love. All we really needed was to be loved.

The imagination we have from our childhood is unmistakable: all the fantasies that invoke desires of ‘the perfect love.’ We can recall many, including the heroism of the prince for his princess: saving the princess from a dragon, saving the princess with a kiss, saving a princess from her place in society. All stories demonstrating a sacrifice--something astonishingly real and attractive. The adolescent stage of love is a purification for a young woman. While awaiting a real love to be given to us, it was easy to accept a fanciful love. The boy crazy sentiments were centered on a misunderstanding of love. Our once romantic and hopeful fantasies are no longer the reality, but the mere tragedy of giving one’s heart when it is not reciprocated!  

Although this is true, the tragedy does not have to end in rejection. There is a choice to be made. The woman whose love is not reciprocated can choose to resent or to love. For all decisions, the latter should always be chosen. Only good fruit can come from the choice to love. Thus by her love will she grow; her heart’s capacity for real love will deepen. Along with this choice, she learns uncommon virtues; ones unknown to those with impossible standards for feminine perfection. She learns patience, trust, and forgiveness. 

Her love is no longer only in a dream or in an idea, but it takes root in her heart.

It seems that the stage of adolescent love can be accepted as a trial to help us come to the true meaning of love. Fulton Sheen commends the stage of youth as one of life’s greatest blessings. “If youth were not wasted on the young, if the tendency to equate love and sensation had not finally been overcome in youth through disillusionment, how few would find the love of God, which they are really seeking.” (1) As a young woman, it was easy to fill the gap with substitutes before seeing the reality of love. Dietrich von Hildebrand would also praise this stage because without the adolescent hankering after love, genuine love could not be discovered. “The state of being deeply in love is instead experienced as an awakening out of an earlier and now surpassed condition.” (2) The genuine love that she learns cannot be replaced. She can only set herself on a path cultivating her love for the one who will be ready to receive it.

As someone who experienced the “boy crazy stage,” I can look back now and say that stage was parallel to my misunderstanding of love.

Without going through the experiences of love, I cannot say that I would have ever accepted the realness of what true love is. It takes being genuinely loved to genuinely love back. The love we should all aim for is deep. Sometimes it is the rejection of our love that shows us the depths of our love. Other times it is the reciprocation. But we should always remember that true love can only be real. While the imagination plays a key role in love, true love is manifested not only in fanciful thoughts but in the daily sacrifices that the lover makes. 

Authentic love is given from the heart, but it reveals itself in acts of service and self-gift.

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Image 1. Snow White

[1] Fulton J. Sheen’s Three to Get Married. New York: Scepter Publishers, 2006,186.


[2] Dietrich von Hildebrand’s The Nature of Love. South Bend: St. Augustine's Press, 2009, 34,






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