Young love, sometimes deemed puppy love, has both positive and negative connotations, much like children. Adults fondly remember the days when they fell in love as they witness young people make their first strides in their romantic journeys; some people sneer at the “infatuation” of those who are both young and in love, determined inexperienced couples can’t foster a mature romance. Though I may not label my first relationships as puppy love per say, those thrillingly deep experiences continue to teach me about myself and love, particularly how I function, give, and receive in a romantic relationship.

Puppy love supposedly resembles the immediate love a person, or a child, has for a puppy; it is based on an initial shallow attraction to the puppy or recipient. This love, just like first love, can influence deeply; a childlike devotion maintains innocence throughout the groundwork and growth of the relationship, and that journey has a full life development as it reaches maturation, complete with a greater appreciation for a committed love. This builds the groundwork for a future marriage, whether it’s with the first love or not.

Young romance exudes a childlike awe in wonder of love. The admiration for the affected people runs deep, and they are likely to forgive. Inexperience in love leads to more mistakes than normal, which is still an expected high rate. The first steps involve more stumbling as they figure out their own balance and how it relates to another. Yet the benefit of stepping into the love journey is they can learn together. They will more readily strive to take strides toward great love as they lace their fingers together anxious to experience love with their partner. The new surroundings sustain the awe.

This love has a multifaceted development in terms of the relationship itself, the individuals, and the future marriage of the lovers. Just like a puppy grows into a dog, the relationship and the individuals mature in life. The experience together, including heartbreak, leads the person to the ultimate appropriate mate selection. Children and adults may fawn over puppies, but devoted dog owners continue to love their dogs until the very end. They forgive the puppy his accidents because he’s adorable, and they train him because they know he makes a good companion. They look back fondly at the puppy days, the beginning and foundation of the friendship; yet they treasure the relationship they have later because it has developed in strength. The puppy may not possess the same outward cuteness, but the love has gone deeper. He also more than likely doesn’t pee on the floor nearly as often. Man looks at his best friend and fondly remembers the times they have had together, happy the dog no longer stumbles the same way a puppy does.

While I don’t refer to him as my first boyfriend, I look back fondly at the first guy I dated in high school. We went to prom together, and I remember how he carried me through the parking lot because he parked by a mud puddle and didn’t want me to get my shoes or dress dirty. He also coaxed me into dancing and twirled and dipped me. We went on a couple subsequent dates where he would lead conversations, ensuring he took interest in my life and likes. This started my foundation in seeing how men should treat me and how I should enjoy dating.

Now I am especially thankful that I started with someone who treated me well to set the standard high. So whether the relationship lasts until the end of marriage or makes the path for the ultimate marriage with another love, the partners look back fondly on their shared love and how it led them to where they currently reside. Both parties have grown positively with a greater understanding and ability to love. My first real relationship ended as well, but I recognize that I made the right choice in breaking up with him because I needed more true devotion and communication, but I learned about myself throughout the experience. I figured out how merciful I can be yet how strong I can be too. Yet I also discovered that sometimes the potential I see in another doesn’t surface in the way it should to be able to cultivate a relationship and that I must let go.

My past tastes of love and heartbreak led me to my current boyfriend, and I am incredibly thankful for him because he has stood by my side waiting to be my prince, always treating me like a princess. The love he quietly showed through his support that emphasized my heart’s wellbeing even if it meant he wasn’t holding it yet. If I seemed sad, he would not leave my side whether that be a physical or phone presence. Now I can better recognize what I need, how I should respond, and why our relationship can flourish. We’ve grown together separately as we encouraged each other toward loving relationships that ultimately developed between us as our friendship deepened and young love flourished. He continues to show a relentless protection of my heart as he leads the relationship’s progress at my comfort (even though dating doesn’t happen in his culture) and follows his admiring comments with the consistent quality conversation and quality time I deeply need. We make each other laugh as we poke fun at situations surrounding us and make each other feel understood as we divulge our cogitations about religion, faith, dating, family. His gentle brown eyes linger on mine as he contemplates the physical beauty they possess, the beauty they see in my perspective. In turn, I absorb the man who wears a suit jacket to be able to stand next to me as I snuggle into his arms where he holds my lips and the words they share and my heart and the love it gives as it simultaneously fills. Couples ultimately get to the fruit of their relationships as the puppy love continues into adulthood and the lovers stick together.

Puppy love may be associated with more tumbles, but it serves an important role. Love does not lead immediately to marriage; people and love must develop. Young love, whether the lovers be young themselves or not, provides a foundation. Every relationship starts there, and previous relationships give experience. Even the heartache and mistakes in my first steps toward love help me make a foundation as I develop myself and my ultimate relationship with my soulmate. I wouldn’t be in the mature and joyful place with the sophisticated and happily fulfilling relationship I am now if it wasn’t for that foundation made from those past experiences and the one happening now. I have waited to be ready for such a relationship, and he has waited for me to let him be my prince. My boyfriend and I add to the foundation of past glimpses of love and our initial, innocent love as we build upward and blossom.