Hey girl, thanks for reaching out! This is a great question, and one that every young girl has at some point. I don’t think there is a certain age or time that is best for everyone, as every girl is different. However, I think in general it’s really important to figure out who you are, live your life, and learn more about yourself before you take this next step. Focus on your own independent growth and goals before you get into a relationship where you’re then focusing on the mutual goals and growth you have as a couple.
There is so much pressure at 16 to be in a relationship because most of the people we’re surrounded by, living in American society, start dating in middle school, and it’s so easy to feel like you’re missing out. But you still have so much ahead of you, so much to learn and so many changes you’ll face between now and becoming an adult. You’ll change so much as a person, and your needs and wants, taste, and desires will change with you. A life partner is someone who is your other half, but how can you find someone who completes you if you don’t really know who you are yet?
Another reason why it’s so important for you to take your time before taking this step is because relationships are different for us, regardless if they are done the halal or “haram” way. They are more than just having fun, or having a fling, but are more serious because we hope and intend that they will lead to marriage (at least it is that way for the majority of us). So, as hard as it may be, don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Think clearly about it first rather than just blindly following your heart.
I was your age when I had my one and only serious relationship with my now husband. At that age, I’m not going to lie, seeing all of the couples around me at school, watching all of the romantic movies with my girlfriends, and the lovey-dovey Turkish shows with my mom made me want to experience love for myself. So, when I met my husband around that time, I thought I was ready because I wanted to be, regardless if I really was or not. Even though we were long distance, we talked 24/7 and felt very strongly for each other right off the bat. As crazy as it sounds, we knew very early on that we wanted to marry each other one day.
The problem was that I was speaking to him for a while without my parents knowing because I was afraid of how they would react. When my mom found out, she was 100% against it, and that really affected our relationship. We didn’t want to continue our relationship in secret, and felt more comfortable doing it the halal way with my father’s approval, but my mom was against him asking for my hand in marriage until I graduated college. She didn’t want it to affect my schoolwork, and knew that my father would also think it was too early. We had to wait five years, until I was in my last year of college for the proposal to happen, and by then our long distance relationship was honestly a mess. All of the waiting and uncertainty had put so much stress, tension, and emotional strain on our relationship that for a while we drifted apart, and almost didn’t get back together.
And while I was upset and blamed my parents for all of the struggles we went through, and for our relationship almost falling apart, looking back now, I think they were right. I wish I had waited to start such a serious relationship until I was more ready. I got officially engaged when I was 22, and I was honestly a much more mature and confident person than the insecure, naive, and easily-influenced girl I was at 16. I had been able to focus on my education, and graduated college at the top of my class, so that made me feel more prepared to take on a new chapter of my life with someone else. I was more secure with who I was, my feelings, and what I wanted in life and in a partner, which made me better in the relationship, and how I dealt with the problems that came up.
Before, I had been very immature, and let people get in my head and dictate my thoughts and actions, so I used to get upset and cause fights over the dumbest things. When I got older, I learned not to jump to conclusions, did what I felt and thought was right, and tried to have better communication, and Alhamdulillah, we haven’t had any major issues yet, (let’s hope I don’t jinx myself)! I also don’t feel like my relationship got in the way of anything I really wanted to do, and sometimes that can happen, especially if the person you are with isn’t completely supportive or understanding of your own needs and ambitions, which may not be obvious until after the “honeymoon” phase.
I share this with you because I didn’t have an older sister who went through it first to advise or guide me, or to be able to learn from her experience. And like most teenagers, I didn’t really take the advice I got from my parents well. I always took it as them being too overprotective or trying to control my life. But, in the end they knew what I didn’t understand, and saw what I couldn’t see, because I was so caught up in the moment and in my emotions.
If I could go back again, I think I would have waited until at least college to start a relationship, and maybe then we could have avoided a lot of the problems we dealt with. On the other hand, I think it was also meant to happen that way for us–maybe we wouldn’t be as strong as a couple if we hadn’t gone through all of that. That was our story though, and maybe it hasn’t always worked out so well for others who went through something similar. As cliche as it sounds, in the end it really is naseeb. Don’t feel that you need to be in a relationship by a certain time, especially not by society’s standards of when the “right” time is. Let things take their course naturally, and Inshallah you’ll meet the right person at the time that is right for you.
You’re still so young, and as mature and smart as you may be, there’s so much more for you to see and experience. Give yourself that chance as your own person. Relationships do add a whole other layer and lens that you’ll see the world from, and it’s beautiful. But don’t rush through the stages of your life because each stage is beautiful and valuable in its own way. Be fully present and enjoy them as much as you can. Trust me, the emotional rollercoaster ride of love can wait.
I hope hearing my story and personal experience will help you navigate your own. Best of luck girl, and let me know what your thoughts are after reading this!