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Helen was studying at school when all of her female friends suddenly started finding boyfriends – either the same age or a bit older. Helen looked on them with envy – she wasn’t the prettiest girl, but she was ready for her first romance story as well. She was the only single girl left among her friends, and needless to say she felt really awkward when they went out and they all brought their dates with them.
But one day, Helen’s prayers were heard. She went to the mall alone, and while she was hanging around a guy came up to her to ask for her number. They chatted for a while; he was quite attractive and seemed to be a fairly interesting person to talk to. When she arrived home, he sent her a message, and they started chatting. They talked and talked for nearly the whole night through, and by 9 am when the time came to go to school, Helen realised that she was head over heels in love. When she finally saw him again, Helen felt her heart beat faster, and it became hard to breathe. Her love’s name was Joe, and he was 19. For Alice, it was pretty thrilling that he was so much older than she was, and yet his attention had fallen on her – and her alone. While they were drinking their coffee, Helen couldn’t take her eyes off him, while he seemed very interested in her life, asking lots of questions. At the end of their date he gave her a slight kiss. Gosh, Helen was now simply the happiest girl in the universe! She took a selfie with him so that she had material proof it wasn’t a dream.
The next day, Helen simply couldn’t keep these developments to herself. She went to school and revealed everything to her friends, showing them the selfie. They smiled in disbelief and asked if she was certain Joe wasn’t too old for her. She snorted – female envy is just so pathetic. Meanwhile, he kept texting her all the time. When she was in her classes and couldn’t respond straight away, he wrote her angry messages if she took too long. Oh, that’s so cute, she thought, he cares so much! When she arrived home, Helen boasted to her mom that she had found a boyfriend, and told her about him. Her mother frowned, looked at the selfie and frowned even more. “I disapprove”, she said, “he’s too old for you, and you’re going to have problems with him.” Helen ignored her, and her mom didn’t press the issue – she had always given her plenty of freedom.
And so Helen’s romance began without anyone’s approval, but that was just fine by her – because she had a new boyfriend called Joe who was genuinely interested in her. He kept messaging her and they met nearly every day. Unfortunately however, he refused to meet her friends, and told her that he didn’t want Helen to meet his. She agreed, because she thought that keeping their relationship half-secret was oh so romantic. Sometimes, he got a bit pushy with her. Apart from the fact that she was supposed to respond to his messages at once, he always forced Helen to meet him anytime he wanted – even if it wasn’t convenient for her. It happened pretty often, and she was starting to get a bit nervous about it. And she also didn’t like the way that sometimes when he gave her a lift home in the evening, he would get a little handsy. But she was so in love with him that she accepted it, even though didn’t feel comfortable about it.
But one day her eyes were opened. They were supposed to meet at 6 pm near the mall, but Helen arrived a little early. She saw Joe chatting happily with some other guys. She felt glad that he would have to finally introduce them to her and she would become his official girlfriend. As she walked over to them, Joe still hadn’t noticed her, and then she heard what he was saying. “You know, I got that 15-year-old idiot who is madly in love with me and she’s sure I’m her soulmate! She’s ready to do anything I want! You know what I mean?” – and they were all roaring with laughter. Helen froze. It was as if someone had punched her hard in the stomach. Her first thought was to leave, but then frustration and anger boiled up in her. She walked towards them and, facing Joe, told him he was a pathetic moron. She said: “You think you’re cool for taking advantage of a nice shy girl? At least I’ve been sincere all the time! And now look at how cool you are with a 15-year-old idiot shouting at you in front of everyone!” and with that, she left with her dignity intact. The last thing she saw was Joe’s face full of embarrassment and the amused expressions of his friends. Helen hoped he would remember that moment for a very long time.
Helen came home in tears and ran straight to her mom for support. She was a wise woman and told her she’d get over it, but also said she hoped Helen would learn her lesson. And indeed she did, and it proved to be a useful one for all the relationships that would come after. From that moment on, she was more attentive to what her partner really represented, and what her friends and family thought about him.