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Friday, September 24, 2021

Opinion: First times

In life, we experience many things for the first time. A first kiss, a first date, a first relationship, a first love and so on. But as we go about hitting these primary milestones, we tend to get a little lost along the way. In a society built upon fairy tale endings, our desire for perfection often slows us down from reaching our goals in the time allotted.

We’ve been taught through Disney Channel original movies that first times are supposed to be special, so we’ve created unrealistic expectations for our love lives.

But does this hinder us rather than help us? When it comes to love, if we fail to meet these societal expectations, we’re often subject to the scrutiny of society because we haven’t hit a specific deadline yet. At age 16, we’re expected to have our first kiss, lest we be seen as abnormalities to the dating system. The same thing applies to virgins over 25 and unmarried people over 40.

With all the time spent waiting for “the one” and “the perfect moment,” have we lost track of time and ignored our deadlines? Or are we right in being picky rather than picking mediocrity?
When it comes to the race known as love, if we miss a first do we come in last, or does slow and steady win the race?
A couple weeks ago, I talked to a friend about this exact conundrum. She is a 17-year-old senior in high school who hasn’t had her first kiss yet — otherwise known by society’s standards as a romantic defect. After an hour of gossip, we came across the question that plagues singles of all ages.
To settle or not to settle?
According to my friend, it’s better to get your firsts over with. To her, those who have had their first kiss are lucky because they’ve met society’s standards and are now able to kiss whomever they like without the added pressure of perfection — essentially killing two birds with one stone. Along with these benefits, settling also allows one to gain experience — a valuable key to setting a dater apart from those who are still waiting.
Could this be true? In the cutthroat competition of dating is it really better to just settle? Perhaps first times are like Band-Aids we need to pull off as quickly and painlessly as possible. Maybe instead of waiting for the perfect moment to come, we should just settle for a not-so-perfect one because that might be the closest thing we’ve got.
When I asked my friend why she held out this entire time despite her feelings, she replied that she just wanted a good story to tell.
In a romance-hungry society, a good story about your love life is equivalent to verbal crack for gossipers. That is, if anyone asks you about it.
Think about it — when was the last time anyone asked you how your first kiss was? That sort of question only exists in the minds of nosy interviewers and the sleepovers in Nickelodeon television shows. It’s like the proverbial saying of the fallen tree in the forest — if you have a first and no one’s there to hear about it, does it even matter?
With all the signs pointing to settling, why do we even bother to wait?
In the race of ready-set-go, perhaps the only reason we haven’t gone is because we’re not ready.
After our many dodged kisses and close encounters, could these innate instincts be trying to tell us something?
Maybe those who are settling aren’t actually settling, but just preparing for what’s to come. Everyone is different. We can’t pick a set time for when we’re ready to accomplish a specific feat.
We all become ready at different times. If you feel you can wait, go ahead. If you feel like you can’t or you slip up one night, that’s fine too. Mistakes happen; it’s not the end of the world. People aren’t perfect — neither is love.
Instead of abiding to these rules that society has set for us, we should write our own. Who cares if we had a first a little early or a little late? In the long run, the only opinion that matters is our own.
Love isn’t a race we compete in. It’s a journey we take at our own pace.

Be the first to email JASON PHAM at jpham@ucdavis.edu.

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