IMG_6647Small disclaimer before we begin; in this post I am referring to relationships in which both parties consent and are of a reasonable age to do so. 
As someone who fell in love with my (now) fiancé at the age of 13, ageism is certainly not alien to me. I have mentioned it *a few* times on my blog before, with my ‘Getting married at 21 is like leaving the party at 9pm’- A Response post and my Engaged At 18: What It’s Really Like post, but I don’t feel like I’ve ever fully delved to the very bottom of the issue; ageism.
So, when I recently came across the below tweet from the lovely Rachel, I just knew that I had to write a blog post about it.

What is ageism?
The Oxford English Dictionary Online defines it as ‘Prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person’s age’.
As Zack and I are considered ‘young’ to be getting married, this is something that I’ve also witnessed. I’ve felt looked down on by the wedding industry as we’ve tried to plan, because there seems to be some sort of weird consensus that getting married young is wrong. It’s a confusing thought-path to me because, generally, the people that I know who got married at a younger age, are the people who seem to still be in love to this day.
Do I have a study to prove this correlation?
No. And I am too lazy to conduct one.
But, so many of my role-models and the relationships that I aspire to in my life began at a young age. Did this effect me when I fell in love? To be honest, I don’t know. I always wanted to fall in love at a young age, because I always felt ready to. I matured when I was very young, and I always believed that love had no age.
I remember reading Miley Cyrus’ book Miles To Go when I was still in primary school, and she spoke of love in a way that really related to me as a child. I have tried to find the exact quote but google failed me, but I know that it was something along the lines of her family believing that love is ageless, and can happen to anyone at any age as long as you are mature enough to know what love actually is.

I have always been hyper-sensitive. I feel emotions extremely deeply; whether that be emotions of grief, guilt, happiness, or even love.

So, how did I fall in love with Zack? Lemme tell you. This is a bit of a bumpy story, and it may seem incredibly cheesy/childish in some places, but stick with me. (Zack has also pre-approved this blog post to ensure that I am not over sharing, don’t worry).
So I remember the exact day that I met Zack for the first time. It was during the summer between year 6 and 7 (just before we started secondary school) and I had this weird sense that I knew him. I definitely didn’t, and had never even heard of him before, but I felt weirdly close to him. Anyways, he was with my friend at the time (oops) so I kinda just ignored it and got on with it.
As time went on, Zack and I grew a lot closer. There was always the weirdest energy between us. I couldn’t describe it at the time, so I didn’t. I didn’t mention it to anybody. But I always felt strangely drawn to him; like I had always known him somehow.
Fast forward a year or so, Zack and I had actually had ‘gone out’ a few times. I use this loosely, because we were kids. Looking back now, I can tell that we always knew that there was something there but just didn’t know what. But we were like 11 and still at the stage where your friend is like ‘so and so wants to be your girlfriend’, so certainly not mature enough.
Around a year later, we were 13 and it was the summer between year 8 and 9. We got together and spent pretty much every day in each other’s company. But, we were still very immature. We were not ready for a relationship just yet, and we kinda knew it but also wanted to cling to how we felt for each other.
So yeah, we split up. It was rather emotional actually, and looking back it’s a little bit funny, but at the time we were both very confused about how we felt for each other. We knew how we felt, but it was very strong and I don’t think that either of us really knew how to deal with it.
A month later, we got back together. And that’s this relationship, the one that we are in right now. And reader, I’m going to marry him.
So yeah, we got together in October 2011 and have not split up since. We refer to our previous relationships as ‘other relationships’ because that’s how we generally feel about them; we weren’t us then, and since then we have grown and matured together.

When we got together at 13, did I think that we would still be together now?

Not really. I always saw a future with Zack, but at the same time I was always conscious of how young we were. So many people referred to it as ‘young love’ or ‘puppy love’ and it kind of upset me because I always knew exactly how I felt, and I felt that people refused to take our relationship seriously.
But, the thing is, that Zack and I also went through an incredible amount of stuff in that time. We were young, yet we learnt to be there for each other. We matured, a lot. And not because of our relationship, because of everything else that we were experiencing, but it definitely helped our relationship.
We also didn’t rush into anything. We took everything in our stride, and waited until the time was right for us. We didn’t have sex until we were 16 (I apologise if you’re a family member reading this cos TMI), even though many people around us had ‘done it’ way before then. Yes, we’d been together for 3 years, but we always accepted our age as a part of our relationship; another factor that we had to consider. We didn’t want to rush into something that we’d regret, so we took our own time to make our own decisions.
And, to this day, I genuinely think that is the ‘secret’ that made us work. We cared about each other so intensely and deeply that we wanted each other to grow and succeed at our own pace. When Zack decided to accept his job, I had an opinion which I shared, but I never told him not to do it, because despite how far away from me he could end up, I always recognised that his decision was his decision. And vice versa with me and university; Zack was an angel and didn’t ever question my decision or tell me what to do, he’s only ever supported and believed in me.
So, for me, our engagement was just a natural progression. It was perfect, and personal, and it was the best day of my life so far, and it definitely did not feel too soon. I mean, we’d been together for 5 years, which, if we were a little older, would definitely not have been seen as too soon.
Have we encountered ageism? Absolutely.
But, for me, it’s not even about ‘proving them wrong’ or any of the other crap that people say to us; our relationship is what makes me happy and what makes Zack happy and that’s the beginning and end of what matters to me in regards to opinions about our relationship. I don’t want to have to defend it, because in my mind there is no question about it.

I love Zack more than I could ever have imagined loving a person in my entire life. I fell head over heels at 13, and I have felt the strongest, deepest love that I know to exist every day ever since.

We have encountered obstacles, for sure, but we’ve made it through with maturity and, to be honest, I am proud of us. I am proud of 13 year old Hayley and Zack who decided to acknowledge their feelings, rather than shy away from them. Because, bloody hell, if they’d have made a different decision, look at the life we would have missed! We would’ve missed all of this, and to me that doesn’t even bare thinking about.
Did I intend to fall in love at 13? Certainly not. I liked to say that I ‘had a boyfriend’ in a gimmicky way, and receive a cheeky valentines day card as much as the next girl, but as soon as I realised my feelings for Zack, all of that went away and gave birth to a much more mature attitude. Love came at me hard; and I didn’t plan it, but it really did.

So, frankly, ageism can suck my ass.

Yes, many relationships that happen when we are 13 years old do not work out; that’s life. But, love can happen at any age, and a relationship should not have to dive through hoops and juggle fire to prove that. At the end of the day, a relationship is all about the way that two people feel for one-another and, surely, their happiness is the most important thing of all?
It is absolutely possible to fall in love at 13 years old; I did it. And I have not regretted it for a single second since.
Opening up the floor; What twitter has to say!
This is something I really like to do in my blog posts, as I like the healthy discussion that it creates! So here’s a few thoughts from the wonderful land of twitter;

From my lovely friend SGX
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And from my lovely friend who wishes to remain anonymous;
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As always, I’d like this post to be a discussion! I’ve shared my opinion and feelings, and if you have a particularly strong opinion about this topic, I’d love to hear it! Feel free to DM me, contact me on social media, or leave it in the comments!
H x