We’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.