Immaturity as an excuse, or no?

Many adults – perhaps all adults? – look back on at least one thing they did in a relationship as a preteen, teenager, or young adult and are embarrassed. They regret their actions and the pain they caused someone they professed to care about.

My regret? I was in 9th grade, and dating a truly lovely young man who lived several hundred miles away. And one day I kissed a local boy. One time. I felt horrible, and immediately admitted to my 14 year old infidelity. (From my description you can tell I am continuing to beg: “Forgive me! I still feel badly about the pain I caused!”) Now I can look back and sigh at the pain I caused, and admire my young boyfriend for his forgiveness and continued friendship until we drifted apart just a few years ago.

However, five years after The Event, my new boyfriend (NB) become good friends with my old boyfriend’s best friend (BF). The BF could not get over my five-years-old kiss. He crucified me, in ways small and large, in front of me and behind my back, to my NB. The BF demanded that I give cause for my actions – answer the question: Why had I cheated?

I don’t really remember how I responded to his question at the time. And now as I think back on that kiss, I still don’t have a clear answer. I was young. I was immature. I was taken by the moment and did not fully appreciate the lovely young man who was my boyfriend.

But is that enough of an answer? It can’t erase, or even explain, the pain I caused.

At the risk of sounding too Sex In The City:

Is immaturity an answer to why we did things when we were young? Can our friends and lovers through the years expect a deeper answer from us?

And to apply that answer (or excuse) to those heroic young people who are currently teenagers: Should they be called upon to answer “Why?” of their social and emotional wrongs?

Or is it perhaps enough to admit wrong-doing, at any age, and to endeavor to learn from it?

What do you think?

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. The mistakes I made were caused by having absolutely no flipping clue what the hell I was doing, but it still makes me feel better to admit that I made mistakes and that I regret what I did, than to try to sweep it under the rug.

  2. I think that as a teenager, if called upon to answer “Why?”, I would have shrugged, been embarrassed, and totally avoided the question. When asked now about my teenage decisions and wrongs, I feel it’s a great opportunity to reflect and learn. But at the time I would have been embarrassed and mortified.

    I still feel bad about the time my really good guy friend asked me out in seventh grade. I flat out told him “No.” No explanation, nothing. I didn’t like him like that. I didn’t want to ruin our friendship. I can explain it now. But now I feel like a jerk for breaking his heart and not telling him what I was feeling or thinking. *sigh* The actions of a teenager.

  3. i think that BF should have gotten a life. i think that BF was in some kind of weird power game with regard to you in his relationship to his friend NB.

    recognising that this is not one of those things that *weigh upon you* every day, i think that to hold your 14 year old self to account for such a moment is ultimately self destructive. i say this as a person who still has the same flashes of guilt in regard to events dating back to the age of 3.

    my girlfriend has a philosophy that works well about situations like this: you [generic you] made your decision based on the factors in your life at that time. you made the best decision you could based upon your motivations and desires and capabilities of the time. leave it where it is and move on

    so, yes – immaturity is an answer.

    no – people cannot really demand deeper answers later in life – especially adult answers for a child’s actions.

Comments are closed.