DEAR KELLY: I'm a junior in high school and my boyfriend is in college. He's about three hours away so its not so far that we never see each other. The problem is that everyone seems to want us to break up because they think that I should date people in high school and he should date people where he lives.
We don't think it makes a difference and we love each other. My boyfriend says, "Who cares how old we are?" and not to listen to everyone, but I really wish people would stop saying things. Even my teachers at school say things because we go to a small high school and everyone knows everyone.
I think everyone thought we would break up at the beginning of the year. We haven't and we are going stronger than ever.
Our families are OK that we date but everyone else seems to have a problem with it. I'm tired of always defending our relationship.
People even ask me things like, "Do you think he's cheating on you with all the college girls in his dorms?"
When I say no, they tell me I'm naive.
I'm so tired of people saying, "You're still together?"
– In love
DEAR IN LOVE: It's difficult being in a relationship that people don't seem to approve of. People may have their reasons why they don't think your relationship will work, but that doesn't mean they should tell you what they think or how they feel about your decision to be together. Most people think they are speaking with your best interest in mind, and don't realize that what they are saying is taken as hurtful and inconsiderate.
Your families are OK with it, which is a good sign. You and your boyfriend are committed to each other and want this relationship to last. That's another good sign. You have the approval and support of those who matter.
If everyone else has a problem with it, that is their issue and you don't need to defend your relationship to them.
There will always be negative people who say negative things, but as long as you know how you feel about each other and have your families' support, then stop listening to all the outside opinions.
If your relationship is healthy and you are happy with each other, that's all that matters. You don't need to convince everyone or prove them wrong by staying together if things go south.
Instead, be confident in who you are, the relationship you're in and the way you feel about each other.
When people say, "Oh, you are still together?" say with self assurance, "Yes we are and we are very happy even though we go to two different schools and know how hard that can be."
Then when people give their unsolicited opinion on how it won't work or why it shouldn't work, kindly say, "Thank you. We will just have to wait and see, won't we?"
One thing to be cautious of: Make sure that you are still enjoying all the things that make high school fun – dances, joining clubs and going to sporting events. And hopefully your boyfriend is doing the same at college. Having a healthy relationship means giving the other person space to live their life the way they want to and not look back with any regrets.
Young relationships can be hard relationships. Don't worry about what other people think – focus on how you treat each other and how to respect that you are each living in a different period of your lives that you want to be sure you enjoy.
Write to Kelly Richardson at Teen Talk, The Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15880, Sacramento, CA 95852 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.