Memoirs of a Teen Without Raging Hormones

high school danceWe’re all familiar with the stereotypical, hormone-driven, boy-crazy teenager. That wasn’t me.

I had no interest in boys. Sure, I liked to go on dates, but I never developed any crushes or romantic feelings toward any boy until I was well into my twenties. By then, I was dating men, not boys.

At the onset of puberty, most of my female friends were experiencing their first melodramatic, lovesick crushes.  I was a little bewildered by how they could feel this way when the objects of their affection were usually dirt clod throwing, training bra strap snapping, smart-mouthed juvenile delinquents.

By the time I was old enough to date, I was pleasantly surprised to notice that most of the boys in my acquaintance had evolved and I didn’t actually dislike most of them anymore. Some of them were nice. Still, all of them were immature. My imagination couldn’t elevate these young, goofy guys to romantic hero status. In fairness, the immaturity of the boys around me wasn’t the only issue. I wasn’t inspired by older men, either. I didn’t lust after teachers or lifeguards or even celebrities.

In many ways, my late onset of hormones was useful. It was easy to be a good, Mormon girl and abstain from premarital sex because I had no interest in sex. I think many parents would have gladly taken on a teenager like me.  Mine, however, had no idea what to do with me.

My mother had her first steady boyfriend when she was a young teen and was rarely ever single from then on. My father was a self-described player. Once I asked him how many girls he had kissed before he was married and he had to write up a tally (with a lot of marks on it) to figure it out. They had no idea what to do with a daughter that was so…weird.  They frequently fretted aloud that I would never marry. I think they sometimes fretted silently that I was a lesbian.

Once during my teen years, there was quite a kerfuffle in my conservative hometown.  A group of kids at a nearby high school had started a gay-straight alliance club and the school board promptly shut it down.  The kids took the issue to court, arguing that they should have the same rights as any other student club.  The next time the school board met, they fairly and equally banned all student clubs.

When I casually mentioned my disdain for the school board’s actions, my parents panicked. It was as if I had set off a bomb at my family dinner table.  They subjected me to a vehement emergency training session on the evils of homosexuality from a Mormon perspective.

Today, I am happy to report that my parents do not have this sort of reaction to gay rights issues, although I still reflexively flinch whenever I accidentally say something about the subject at a family gathering. Maybe their views have softened over the years, but I also wonder if their reactions when I was a teen were less about their personal opinions and more about their fears that my empathy for homosexuals reflected my propensity to become one—a sad fate for a Mormon girl, in a church so hostile toward the LGBTQ community.  Perhaps they hoped that their emotional and strongly negative responses could somehow squelch that potential. Now that I am heterosexually married, they feel safe to tolerate gay people in my presence.

Anyhow, if they had ever dared to ask, I could have assured them that I didn’t have romantic feelings toward girls, either.

When I was in my mid-twenties, I eventually met a few men, very few, who aroused the kind of response in me that I had witnessed in other infatuated people my whole life.  Turns out, I was perfectly capable of twitterpation and sexual arousal, but my hormones could only be activated by a very small number of grown-up men, and only after I was old enough to date grown-ups, and only after I was close enough to someone to become emotionally attached.  I married one of the few men who had this effect on me. Now that I have such a partner, I can be as horny as anyone else.  I’m just unusually selective and extremely monogamous.

Now I have kids of my own. Like my parents before me, I am probably destined not to understand my children.  How could I, if they follow the more typical, hormonally-driven teenage patterns?  I can’t relate—I was never a hormonal teen. I take comfort in the knowledge that I turned out fine even though my parents didn’t understand me.  I think my kids will be fine, too, even if I don’t understand them.

April Young Bennett

April Young Bennett is an advocate, mother, professional, lover of the arts, hater (but doer) of housework and seeker of truth. Twitter: @aprilyoungb

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10 Responses

  1. Jess R says:

    You could be describing me! Thank you for sharing this…it’s always comforting to know I’m not alone.

  2. LeNae says:

    This article is wonderful! It took me back to my teens and I compared myself to this example. I was the same. A friend who was a boy asked me to “go with him” which basically declared we were boyfriend and girlfriend suddenly after a dance. When kissing was expected, I avoided him for two days and broke it off. This was fortunate for a young woman who was neglected snd abused. But that’s another story……

  3. Maggie says:

    I can relate. I’ve never really understood why people can do such irrational things for love/lust.

    It was only in the last couple years that I realized that I’m probably demi-sexual. I tend to fall for someone about every 5 years. And I doubt I’ll ever fall for anyone who loves me in return.

    Also, the clubs scandal in SLC promoted the only sex talk I ever got from my parents. I walked out in protest with my peers anyway.

  4. Micha says:

    Great post! Have you heard of demisexuality (don’t know if that is a word)? “A demisexual is a person who does not experience sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection with someone. It’s more commonly seen in but by no means confined to romantic relationships. The term demisexual comes from the orientation being ‘halfway between’ sexual and asexual.”

  5. Emerly says:

    I can relate. I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 24. I just wasn’t that attracted to boys. They didn’t seem stable or secure. When I was 27 I dated a man in his early 40s. I’ve never felt more twitterpated.

    I married someone who was totally opposite of me in this regard as a teenager. He was a sexually active Mormon before his mission. He didn’t share this with me until after we were married (although he had alluded to it, but then later told me he was a virgin).

    For months I was annoyed that I had been taught all this BS about saving yourself for marriage and then it doesn’t really matter since we both took different roads but ended up in the same place.

    I’ve since gotten over it. But I’m glad to read this and be reminded that my experience as a teenager was unique.

  6. Violadiva says:

    Interesting! With parents of boy-crazy teen girls trying to shut them down, and the example of your parents worrying why you weren’t more boy crazy, I’m left to wonder, what is the appropriate amount of boy crazy for a teen girl?
    I remember thinking that boyfriends were sooooo off limits because of the wording In FTSOY, and I was always so flabbergasted when my friends from the ward had boyfriends and their parents didn’t seem to mind!
    I found dating in college to be way more fun than dating in high school anyway. I think in high school I was always too self conscious to even enjoy myself, whereas college, everyone (including me) was more mature overall.

  7. I was full grown and fully developed by the end of fifth grade. I was also incredibly boy crazy, but I don’t think the two were necessarily the same issue.

    Fortunately (for me), of my four daughters, only one could have been called remotely boy crazy, and even she graduated with a 4.0, so it didn’t stop her studies or many accomplishments. My last two kids are boys, so I think I dodged the bullet I dealt my parents fairly well. Knock on wood.

  8. Rachel says:

    This was so interesting to read (in part because I was most definitely boy crazy).

  9. EmilyCC says:

    My husband and I are very different in our dating histories. I always wonder where our kids will fall on the spectrum. Such a fun post!

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