Welcome to Deep-Fried Friday and my High School Halls series. Today, I’m thrilled to welcome a guest to my blog to discuss high school dating, young love, and breaking up. Lydia Sharp is the author of the young adult romantic comedy novella, TWIN SENSE, now out from Musa Publishing’s Euterpe Imprint.
So Lydia, let’s talk about our young love first and then how things are today.
Parents often set rules for their kids dating. For me, I had to be sixteen years old, the guy had to call (because I wasn’t allowed to call boys unless they were at boyfriend status), and I had a curfew. What rules, if any, did you have for dating in high school?
My parents’ dating rules were very simple: don’t do it! Of course, I rebelled against that one, and I still think it was a stupid rule. Telling a teenager they aren’t allowed to be social and fall in love is like telling water it isn’t allowed to be wet.
Did you date a lot in high school? Or perhaps have a single long love during those teenage years?
No, I wouldn’t say I dated “a lot.” I was very very shy. But even so, boys were always giving me attention (which was not always a good thing, but we won’t discuss that today). When I was a sophomore, I met a guy who I still refer to as “my first love.” Unfortunately, I started seeing him at the same time I was dating someone else. He was “the other guy,” if you know what I mean. But we had to keep it secret and that was hard. Oh and did I mention the two of them were friends? That’s how we met, actually, we were all in the same circle of friends. I know, it sounds like something straight out of a YA rom-com. This stuff really happens!
Then in the middle of that school year my family moved away and the long-distance thing was even harder than keeping us a secret. We went from seeing each other every day at school to never seeing each other at all. I found out, through him and a few other close friends, that my boyfriend was with someone new only a week after I’d left. “The other guy” kept in contact through letters and phone calls (this was in the 90s; email was still new and texting didn’t exist) but we drifted apart, and after high school we both married other people. I’m not sorry for this, though. I love my husband more than I ever loved “the other guy.”
Do you remember your first kiss? What was wonderful or awful about that first kiss?
If you mean my first kiss ever, there isn’t much to tell. I was seven years old and did it on a dare. The boy in question ran away immediately afterwards. But if you mean my first *real* kiss, then…
Yes, I remember. It was very awkward. I didn’t know how to hold my head, or where to put my lips, or how much pressure to apply, and then there’s the whole tongue issue. I also felt like my nose was always getting in the way. I have a big Italian nose, but if my ancestors could kiss then darnit so could I. There’s so much to worry about, you can’t really enjoy it. But fortunately, most people get better with practice (same goes for sex). And even though it’s awkward and not as good as subsequent kisses, the thrill of a first kiss is almost wonderful enough to outweigh all of that. Almost.
A typical date was dinner and a movie, but sometimes a guy would get creative. Do you have any particularly memorable dating experiences from high school?
I never had the typical “dinner and a movie” date until after high school when I started dating my husband. During high school we mostly did stuff in groups. Not necessarily parties, just groups of about four or more. If we had the chance to sneak off alone, we would, but we couldn’t do much in the way of “going out places” because none of us had any money. We would go bowling (it’s cheap!) or hang out at a pool hall (also cheap!) or just crash at someone’s house (the cheapest of all!). We always had fun, but there is nothing really memorable about this. It’s just the way it was.
Sometimes young love is brushed off as being less important than adult love, but young hearts are passionate. And they break when a relationship comes to an end. Tell a story of how your best or worst handling of a break-up.
Let’s rewind back to when I was dating a guy and seeing his friend at the same time… when I found out he was with someone else almost immediately after I moved away, without so much as a phone call to tell me this himself, yeah, that hurt, even though I never truly loved him. There were times when I thought I loved him, though, and we did have a lot of fun together. We shared a lot of the same interests. He’d even given me a promise ring, and written me a goodbye poem that brought him to tears when he read it to me. I thought he loved me, so when I found out he didn’t, it was brutal.
I cried a lot, which also made me feel guilty because I was still keeping in regular contact with “the other guy.” Confusion, guilt, misery, and falling in love with someone else at the same time, do not make for a good emotional mix. On top of that, I was at a new school and extremely shy. I made no real friends until the following school year.
This was a very dark time for me, and I was only fifteen. So yeah, it does upset me when I hear adults say that teenagers are being overly dramatic when they get upset over a breakup. They obviously don’t remember or just never experienced it for themselves, but that doesn’t make it untrue.
The four main characters are Kevin and Keith (identical twin brothers), and Layna and Sherri (the twins’ girlfriends). Layna is the main character; the story is told through her eyes and mind. Early on, Sherri breaks up with Keith, and Kevin tries to get closer to Layna by giving her a promise ring. Shortly afterward, Layna and Sherri start spending more time together and develop feelings for each other, so now Layna is torn between affections and both choices seem good. It’s a tough spot to be in.
There are also some other things in the story that directly relate to high school dating, and how ridiculous social expectations can be. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, though.
How did you get into the head of a teenager and how he/she would feel as their relationships change?
I do my best to draw on my own experiences and feelings from that time of life, and combine that with what I see in teens today. The rest is an unexplainable magic.
Why do you enjoy writing about young adult romance? What’s special about that time with romantic relationships?
Everything about being a teen is thrilling. You’re not really a kid anymore, and you’re still trying to figure out how to be an adult. Your hormones are on crack, but romance isn’t your only passion. You have plans to change the world because you’re still young enough to have the time and energy required to make it happen. You dream a lot. You fantasize. You’re scared and nervous one second, bold and courageous the next.
But my favorite thing is that the teen years can be where you experience real love for the first time. You will remember your first love for the rest of your life, even if you don’t stay together into adulthood. That person carries a piece of your heart with them forever, and you carry a piece of theirs. It’s a huge, delicate privilege, not to be taken lightly. And there are so many different ways people can find each other and fall in love, despite their relationship being tested. I just love creating stories that allow readers to enjoy that experience over and over and over again.
Thanks so much to Lydia Sharp for talking with us about dating, young love, and breaking up. Check out her book and share about your teen dating days in the comments!
Twin Sense: As girlfriends of the Taylor twins, Layna and Sherri have only been friends by association. But when Sherri breaks up with Keith (for real this time), and Kevin gives Layna a promise ring (whoa, what?), Layna’s whole world spins off balance. She avoids Kevin’s unwelcome pressure to commit by spending more time with Sherri.
Without the twins around, Layna and Sherri are tempted to go beyond friendship status. Then Keith tries to win Sherri back, and Kevin apologizes for rushing Layna. Now she’s stuck inside a double-trouble love quadrangle that has her reaching for the consolation cheesecake. The only way to sort out this mess is to make an impossible choice—between the one she wants and the other one she wants—or she might end up with no one.
Lydia Sharp is a novelist and short fiction author who grew up on the shores of Lake Erie. Then she got tired of finding sand in her clothes so she moved further inland, but she’ll always call Ohio home. Laughing is her favorite pastime. Kissing is a close second.
For Lydia’s published and upcoming fiction, click HERE.