The Neville Longbottom Theory: Why Late Bloomers Are The Absolute Best People To Date

Gather round, ye olde fellow single people, because I want to tell you a story. No, it's not about the evolution of Matthew Lewis in his underwear. While I'm sure there are many wonderful stories that brought that photo shoot to fruition, the real story I want to tell here is the one of Neville Longbottom, because no human makes a case for why you should date late bloomers better than he does.

Journey with me to all the way 1991, to a first year dormitory where 11-year-old Neville Longbottom was as down on his luck as he could get. Impressively forgetful, ridiculously unconfident, and raised by a grandma that probably knew zero hip wizard slang of the day, Neville was basically the epitome of every awkward kid in middle school you knew or possibly were yourself.

Neville, like a lot of late bloomers, was super sneaky about his journey to badassery. One day he was getting his Remembrall tossed around by bullies on the Quidditch pitch, and the next day he was summoning up the Sword of Gryffindor and slaying the final Horcrux like the bonafide mofo he had become. (No, I'm not tagging for spoilers. If you didn't already know this then you're probably a hologram or something.) My point is that yes, puberty was awkward and rocky and excruciating for the Nevilles of the world, but well worth all of its trials to get to the other side. Who wouldn't want to date the guy who basically told the most powerful dark wizard of all time to suck it?

Bummer news: He's hella married to Hannah Abbott, because that girl knew he was secretly a badass long before the rest of us did and she snapped that lovable nerd right up. But the less bummer news is that there are other late bloomers in the making all over this planet who are every bit as datable as Neville once was (and, you know, not fictional). Here are all the reasons why you should date a late bloomer:

They can laugh at themselves

Say what you want, but self-deprecation is sexy. It's very different from being down on yourself, which comes from an unconfident place—the best self-deprecators, I'd argue, are the people who grow into their confidence, and are self-aware enough to acknowledge and make fun of themselves in a healthy way. Nobody is more of a pro at growing into their confidence like a late bloomer. If someone is able to laugh at themselves, then you not only feel more at ease with them, but you feel more comfortable with laughing at the two of you as a whole.

They're less judgmental

Anybody who took a lot of time to catch up to their peers has had their fair share of awkward sauce. Maybe they were still zit-ridden when everyone else seemingly grew out of it, or terrified of kissing when everyone else was enthusiastically spinning bottles, or aggressively trying to make "fetch" happen long after 2004—the point is, they've been there. They have endured the aggressively bright spotlight of not quite belonging, and they carry that empathy with them for life. As a result, they are the last people to make snap judgments about anyone, and you can always feel comfortable being yourself when they're around.

They value hard work

Some people are naturally charismatic and talented, and get what they want right away in life. They graduate from high school with a major picked out, then graduate from college with a cushy job, and comfortably climb the ladder. That's great for them.

But late bloomers don't have that luxury. Late bloomers are constantly having to prove themselves useful and worthy to people who might otherwise dismiss them, and when their success comes, it is earned tooth and nail. You know when a late bloomer sets their sights on something, they are giving it their all, so they will always be right there with you working to make your relationship as strong as it can be.

They are an entirely different level of brave

I don't think bravery only comes in snap instances of whether or not someone rises up to a sudden occasion. I think there is a second kind of bravery in perseverance, in enduring day-to-day challenges with grace and maturity. It is often quiet and goes unnoticed, but late bloomers have it in spades. When the rest of the world is a big tumultuous mess, the late bloomers are the unexpected steady rocks in the storm.

They might actually be smarter

When scientists at the National Institute of Health tracked participants in a study from childhood, they expected to find that the children who started out with thicker brain cortexes would result in higher IQs. They were surprised when their research revealed that the participants who started out with "thinner" cortexes eventually grew into thicker cortexes over time—and in the end, their IQs overcame those who had thicker cortexes from the get-go. Basically late bloomers are secret whiz kids, and who wouldn't want to have one of them in their corner? You'll never have to calculate the tip on a meal with your brain again.

They're not afraid of their weaknesses

I think there is a difference between having pride and having dignity. A person can have too much pride, to a deluded or even unhealthy extent, and live in constant fear of somehow seeming "less than" to other people. In that sense, someone who has a lot of pride may lack dignity, because they are willing to sacrifice that dignity to go to absurd lengths to keep up appearances.

Late bloomers, on the other hand, know not to let pride get in the way. The pride that they have is a sense of self that developed over time, and grew with them as they struggled to catch up to everyone else. They also possess an innate dignity that doesn't inspire them to do anything rash for the sake of their pride. They are not afraid to express their emotions, to admit when they've made a mistake, or face their own failure. Rather than avoid them, they face their weaknesses head on to overcome them.

A relationship you have with someone who was a late bloomer will be rooted in this same openness. They will always be honest and open and share those weaknesses with you, so you will feel comfortable sharing your own.

They value their relationships

There was a time in every late bloomer's life when they probably did not have a lot of friends. Maybe they were still struggling to stay on par with their peers, or maybe they were just too shy to put themselves out there in the first place, but whatever the case, the relationships that they did have meant something to them. The importance that they put on those relationships doesn't fade with time, even when they come out of their shells and form bonds with a lot more people. If you're dating a late bloomer, you never have to wonder where you stand with them—when it comes to love, they go all-in.

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