4 Things You Must Have When Dating
So, dating these days is pretty much all over the place. Anything and everything goes and sometimes nothing goes. But I am going to strongly state that, if you really do want to find love and a healthy relationship, there are 4 things you must have when you’re dating.
1. AN IDEAL
You probably don’t get in the car very often without a destination in mind, right?! So, when you date, decide on your destination.
Do I need to be more direct here?! I’m saying, know what you are looking for. Don’t just put yourself out there and “figure out” what you like while you’re dating.
Give it some real reflection and think about what is important to you, what type of values you want your dating partner to have, what they like to do for fun, what his/her personality should be like?
Now just for the record, sometimes you will learn some of this stuff while dating.
Like, oh yeah, I really can’t stand someone who chomps their gum…or other important things like that.
But the idea is that you should go into dating with a general idea of what you’re looking for.
2. DEAL BREAKERS
Just like you should have your list of ideals, it’s important to have a list of deal breakers.
These are the things that you will not compromise on, no matter how exciting, hot, funny, intelligent, rich or fill-in-the-blank. This is the list that does not bend much.
It’s way easier to outline these things before you’re in a relationship, because once you’ve become blinded by love or infatuation it’s just way harder to be assertive with your deal breakers and way too easy to rationalize.
3. POWER + BALLS
So, power balls, huh?! Like the lottery. NO!
So many people treat dating like it’s the lottery, like finding a good relationship is something that just happens by chance or luck.
How many times have you caught yourself saying something like “oh it just wasn’t meant to be” or “it is what it is” or “eh, what will be will be”?
These sayings imply that dating and finding love is completely out of your control. That healthy relationships are a unicorn that you can only hope to see someday and that you are powerless and simply passive in the dating process.
Now don’t get me wrong, some relationships really weren’t meant to be.
But the reality is there is an epidemic of passivity when it comes to dating and relationships and it just doesn’t have to be this way.
We are in control of our dating lives and choices and need to think of ourselves as active managers of our relationships.
We need to regain our personal agency; our power in relationships.
That’s also where the balls come in.
This stuff takes guts. To take control of your relationship, you will periodically need to show some vulnerability and courage.
But I challenge you to step up and take charge of your dating life. Ask out that person that you are interested in…not just to “hang,” but on a real, legit date.
Bring up the define the relationship talk. Definition is good and provides clear expectations of what to do and how to act in a relationship. And, if they can’t define it, then there’s your sign.
End that relationship that is making you feel crazy.
Don’t accept Netflix and Chill as a real date.
Go for it! You do have power and say in relationships and, yes, it almost always takes some balls.
This is somewhat of an echoing of the other points. But, in a world where there is such blurriness between what is right and wrong and when all things are “acceptable,” it can be difficult to have and execute standards.
At times, you may feel uptight or lame or too picky for having some standards, but I assure you any discomfort that you may feel is worth it.
It is about time we reclaim some pride in having standards, ideals, deal breakers, assertiveness and clarity on the commitment levels of our relationships. This does not make you judgmental, rude, controlling or critical. But it does make you intentional, thoughtful, direct and secure.
The 3 Month Rule in Dating
Waiting is hard… I get it! When I go around to different schools and talk about healthy dating and relationships and the important character traits to develop in yourself, as well as find in someone else, patience is always the number one thing I hear that teens struggle with. I mean, come on, we can microwave our dinner in a minute, google an answer to pretty much anything in a second… so who has time to wait!?
Ever hear of the old saying, ‘good things come to those who wait’? Well it may not be so far off actually, and especially rings true when it comes to dating. Before you tune me out, thinking I’m sooo old school, hear me out! When you start to date someone, are you truly showing all of your different sides (like the ones your family sees), past baggage, and bad habits, right off the bat? No, of course not! That stuff starts to really come out by month 3… right when we’re starting to feel comfortable around the other person and not worry they're going to jet if we get a little loco sometimes.
This is why it’s important to set some boundaries from the get-go… I’m talking pace yourself. Uh-oh, you read it right, the dreaded word ‘boundaries.’ It almost always produces an eye-roll and groan because boundaries sound so limiting - so restrictive - so much like a set of RULES! But think about it for a sec, because boundaries can be a great thing in all areas of our lives. It’s what helps us to be able to live free, well-adjusted, and less-stressed lives. To be able to say no to some things because it’s either not the right timing, not good for us, or would be just too much on our plates. Think about how overwhelmed you would feel if you said yes to every single thing someone asked of you. It’s just not possible to do everything. You’d feel a lot better about doing what you can handle and just being good… like really good, at just a few things.
The beginning of relationships are usually the best- mushy, gushy, amazing times… without many hiccups, because you’re on your best behavior and someone’s real self hasn’t fully emerged. If your relationship is full speed ahead from the start, then most likely you’re going to be in too deep already to see clearly when problems and differences do start to pop up! So some things to know firmly in your head and heart before heading into your next relationship are: how much are you going to trust this person in the beginning? Depend on them? How far are you willing to go sexually? Don’t let your partner decide these things for you, or it’s all too easy to just ‘slide’ into whatever the other person wants, instead of deciding what’s best for you, the relationship, and your future.
So how do you go about this? Talk to your partner in those first few months and really get to know them. Is there something there that bothers you? Different values? Compromises that you’d have to make for the relationship? If something comes up that really bothers you, talk to them about it and see how they respond. Are they open to change? How flexible are they? How aware are they of how things affect you? These are all good signs if someone is willing to consider how you’re feeling and make even small changes, if needed. It takes time for the guard to come down so you can evaluate whether there are certain behaviors or beliefs that are deal breakers. Then you can decide whether or not to continue to invest your time and move forward with your whole heart.
Lauren A. Caron
Recognizing an Unhealthy Relationship
My best friend from high school was in a relationship with a fun and eccentric guy. I loved hanging out with them because I was always laughing and having a good time. On occasion, I saw a side of her boyfriend that I didn’t like. Sometimes he would blow up on her, and other times he would say crude remarks like “you’re such a fat a$$”—not cool. During the time they dated I watched her experiment with drugs, risky sexual behaviors, teen drinking, and battles of depression and thoughts of suicide. I didn’t know what to do, other than continue to be her friend. They continued to date for three years and then broke up. My friend was noticeably happier when it was over, but guess what? She is now in another relationship with a crummy guy.
I had another friend whose girlfriend would text him 30 times an hour to see where he was. If she learned he was with me, she would flip out and make him leave. It got to the point where we had to sneak around her because she was so insecure. I want to add, nothing was ever going on between us, she just invaded every aspect of his life: friends, family, Facebook, school, and sports. It wasn’t fun to see my friend go through such a demanding relationship.
High school relationships are our building blocks for our adult relationships. Take a moment and think of what you hope for in a future wife, husband, or companion. Write down what you come up with.
I am guessing you want a great relationship that is honest, trustworthy, happy, and safe. To find a relationship like that in the future, you need to start looking for those qualities now. More importantly, you need to recognize the warning signs of unhealthy relationships.
What is a healthy relationship?
Abusive relationships were once thought as physical contact that causes harm to another person. Though that is a form of abuse (physical abuse), there are several other forms of relationship abuse that adolescents face. Adolescent Health Collaborative has provided a helpful chart in recognizing teen relationship abuse.
Why are healthy relationships for teens SO important?
Teens that are in abusive relationships tend to have depression, low self-esteem, teen pregnancies, use illegal drugs, have STD’s, mental illness, and suicide risk. Protect you and your friends’ futures by seeking respectable healthy relationship. Let us know if you have any questions or need any help with that.
15 Challenges to Make This, “YOUR BEST SUMMER EVER!!”
- Spend more time out of your bed then in your bed.
- Sleep outside and invite some friends along to your camp-out and tell them s’mores and an amazing breakfast is involved! (compliments of YOU)
- Make a YouTube video doing something creative, or just plain silly, and become a YouTube sensation overnight!
- Watch a documentary about the food industry and decide you’re going tomake 3 changes to your diet for the better.
- Like… stop. drinking. soda!
- Ask out that one person you’ve been crushing on the entire school year- you can do it!
- Plan a really creative date for them- I’m talking Snapchat or Instagram worthy!
- Simplify your life and give away some stuff you haven’t used in ages or clothes you never wear… or sell it at a yard sale and donate the money or do something nice for someone.
- Be grateful for all of your blessings and write down 3 things every single day about what you’re grateful for.
- Road trip to the closest state line and make a really big deal about crossing it. Like, a really. big. deal. The more confetti the better.
- Get over one of your fears like that humongo roller coaster that you swear you’re not afraid of.
- Clean the bathroom every Saturday morning for you parents without being asked or complaining about it.
- Cook dinner for your family one night by watching a how-to video online… think Taco Tuesdays (because they probably are the best and only appropriate meal for a Tuesday).
- Create an amazing summer playlist on Spotify and then dance to it (even if people are watching).
- Bring joy to others through random acts of kindness, gifts or notes… to family, friends, or even strangers!
*And here’s a bonus one- if your crush denied you, don’t dwell on it all summer… go out and have fun with friends and family, meet new people! Enjoy Life. A big part of life is relationships, making new connections and memories and experiencing that together! Trying new things is what makes our world grow. Never settle for mediocre and don’t base your self-worth on whether you’re with this guy or that girl. You have plenty of time for a serious relationship when the time is right. For now, enjoy making amazing friendships and having fun, because life is too short not to! (Ok so that was a little long, but hey, it was my closing too!)
Lauren A. Caron
Dating is Unnecessarily Complicated by Erik Massenzio
Dating does not have to be awkward. For whatever reason, dating has become synonymous with “having a boy/girlfriend.” It does not have to be this way, and probably does more harm than good in the long run! Most of the stress and drama that comes from dating is the unnecessary commitment and complication that is now firmly associated with going out once.
We are given so much advice on what to do or what not to do on individual dates, but not enough is directed towards the process itself. In order to have a more effective and enjoyable time, follow these tried and true tips:
1) Be Clear
Are you interested in someone but don’t know if you would like to pursue a relationship? Perfect! Say, “Hey, would you like to get [insert coffee, ice cream, etc.] with me?” If they seem confused or taken aback (since the current social script dictates that this is more serious than it is) add on, “I’m not asking for a relationship, I just would like to go on a date and get to know you better.” Clarity makes everything better, and will allow you to preserve your friendship in the future.
2) Set Limits
Pacing yourself is a healthy way to give your relationship a sure foundation. In its early stages dating doesn’t have to be an all or nothing game. It’s okay to set limits on how much time you spend together. Being around one another all the time will either a) burn each of you out b) be unsustainable or c) cause the unnecessary commitment that we are trying to avoid (at this point). Remember, relationships should have an upward trajectory; don’t start big and spend eight hours on the phone after the first week. You need to build up to it.
Here are some limits that you can set explicitly or implicitly:
– For the first month or so, the only time you should text is when setting up plans.
– For the first few dates, spread them out a week apart.
– Don’t involve outside parties in the beginning. It’s not a big enough deal.
– Save the “I love you” for your mother (It’s just too early!)
Pacing the relationship allows you learn more about the person before you commit, as well as allowing you both to grow closer together at a healthy speed.
3) Be Respectful
If the other person is not interested, don’t feel too bad. Sometimes this is just how these things go. Look out for signs of disinterest, and respect the other person’s decision to move on if it just isn’t working for them. If you stick to this script, chances are it won’t feel awkward and you can continue your friendship where it left off. Remember, the purpose of a relationship is to grow together, so don’t feel bad if someone calls it off due to compatibility issues.
Dating is not rocket science. We just make it tougher than it needs to be.
Erik Massenzio is a junior at Princeton University where he studies philosophy.
3 Tips to Bring Dating Back
Shocked and bewildered. That’s how I felt during my freshmen year of college as I watched my peers forego the remnants of the dating script they learned in high school. The first months of school were full of high school sweetheart breakups. What replaced these relationships was casual sex without commitment driven by a drunken party scene. The problem? Once students became invested in this scene, it was hard to get out, even when they found it unfulfilling and disappointing. This is the trap of hookup culture, a phenomenon fueled by the humanity in all of us; the drive for sex, but in this case, without commitment, trust, loyalty, feelings – just consent.
It seems to me and many people I talk to, that college students are afraid of dating. Students tend to follow one of two roads. They maintain an endless stream of “what ifs” in regards to romantic partnerships, always wanting something better than what they have. Or they remain afraid of the unknown life of commitment, hawking secondhand horror stories of unhappily anchored couples. Having survived college dating (despite the scariness) and now being happily married, I’d like to take a look back at some useful concepts that helped me get here.
1) Stop looking for “the one,” – that one person in the whole universe with whom you could ever be happy. That thought holds people back from good relationships, and ends in unsatisfied searching and in sadness. As in all things, if you find a good thing, keep it. Looking for greener pastures is only useful when accompanied by a measure of wisdom. Nobody is perfect. If people aren’t perfect, how can you expect your relationship to be?
2) Be intentional. It’s true fewer young people are “going on dates” these days – that’s why it’s so important. Being intentional means laying your cards on the table and making your romantic aspirations known. It can be scary to make yourself vulnerable when it seems like everyone else is playing games. But if something is difficult, that probably means it’s more worthwhile in the end. “Toughing it out” will mature you to where you need to be by the time you reach the end. You may also find it to be easier than you imagined.
3) Know who you are. As in everything you do, it is important to sort out the voices influencing your life that are not your own and find your own voice. This could take getting out of your comfort zone to do some lengthy reflection. But only then you will know what you truly want. Figuring that out and dealing with insecurities goes a long way towards conquering any fears about dating
I have found commitment in relationships generally merits respect from friends, coworkers, and family, even more so in today’s culture. Commitment is a way I have enriched my life, and I hope maybe this will encourage you to face your fears and pursue your romantic aspirations.
Moving Forward in the New Year!
With the start of another new year… you know what comes along with that, NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS!! It’s time to clean house, and maybe that means with your relationships too!? If you’ve been thinking that things with your boo just haven’t been right and, “I’m just going to stick this out through the holidays and see if anything changes,” or I just don’t want to be alone through all the fun parties, or hurt their feelings with a “Merry Christmas and now I’m dumping you” kind of breakup, well then now might be the best time! SO here are some telltale signs, it just might be time to move on. Because after all, dating is supposed to be a fun, enjoyable time in yours teens, where you get to know the other person and learn more about yourself! I’m definitely not saying that everything’s always going to be great and there’s never going to be challenges or things to work through… but if you’re spending half the relationship ‘working on things,’ then maybe they’re a great person, but just not great for you!
Here is some advice from Holly Ashworth, a Teen Advice Expert, that it might be time to do some dumping. See if any of these reasons for breaking up apply to you and your sweetie, and if they do, start thinking about taking some action.
- You've Been Hurt in Any Way
This is the only reason for breaking up that's totally unconditional. If your sweetie has been hurting you in any way - physically or emotionally - you must get out. Now. Seriously. If you're not sure if what's going on counts as abuse, check the signs.
- You're More Sad Than Happy
Relationships aren't going to be all roses all the time, but they should bring a little joy to your life. If things are too frustrating or depressing and they're not balanced out by any good moments, get out while you still can.
- You're Doing All the Work
If you're the one who's been making all the phone calls, planning all the dates and planting all the kisses, then you're not getting what you need out of this relationship (namely: some love and appreciation in return for all your hard work). There's a good chance your sweetie wants out but is too chicken to break up with you. Take the reins and do it yourself (as usual).
- You've Been Cheated On
Once the trust is gone, there's no good reason to stay in a relationship. Besides, you deserve better than someone who can't keep it together enough to stay loyal to you.
- You Can't Stop Thinking About Your Ex
Maybe you didn't give yourself enough time to get over your ex before dating again, or maybe you'll never be that into your current cutie, regardless of the timing. Either way, it's not fair to date somebody while you're pining so hard for somebody else. Break up, and either try things again with your ex or hold off till you meet someone even better.
- Your Friends and Family are Rallying Against Your Relationship
A lone friend who's upset about your relationship might just be acting out of jealousy - but when all your friends are saying it, you should probably listen. They might be seeing something that you're too blinded by love to see yourself. This isn't a reason to break up right away, but at least talk to your friends and family and take their warnings seriously.
- You've Cheated
If you cheat, it's a sign that you'd rather be single. Don't do your partner any favors by sticking it out. The sooner you break up, the less you'll both get hurt in the long run.
- You Just Feel Like It's Time to Move On
You don't need any real, concrete reasons to break up, as long as you feel it in your gut. Just explain to your partner that things have changed and that you want to be single again. It won't be easy to do, but it'll be a whole lot better than staying in a relationship long after it's worth your while.
If you have any other questions, send us an email through our contact form and we’ll get back to you!
I Just Don’t Know What to Do!
Are you feeling pressured or confused about how to make WISE, intentional decisions?? It’s best to know how you’ll handle a high stakes decision or situation BEFORE you find yourself in one. It doesn’t matter how many times you say, “Oh, I would never do that…” fact is, you may find yourself in a position that you never thought was possible. IF so, try to remember these steps below to help navigate a tough situation after it comes up.
Try to stop or control the situation by using a stalling tactic such as checking your phone or sending a text, moving around in the room… or anything else that will help change the dynamic of the situation.
Ask yourself questions such as “What do I need to decide right now? What are the positive/negative consequences to each choice? How should I respond?” Next work through the answers until you’re clear about how you feel and what you should do.
Make your decision with your dreams and goals for the future in mind. You don’t want to decide anything on the fly that you might later regret. Some decisions are reversible… but others can have lifelong consequences. Later, talk with someone you trust about your decision, like your parents, a sibling or friend, and see if they have any additional input that could be helpful in carrying your decision out. Decide- don’t slide.
MYTH VS. FACT
Think you're in-the-know about sex and can figure out fact from fiction? Put your knowledge to the test because we're about to separate fact from fiction and put some sex myths to bed. Here are some of the most popular myths we've heard about sex…
MYTH: Everyone is doing it!
REALITY: Don't believe everything you hear…it may seem like everyone’s doing it, but in reality, less than half (48%) of all high school students have ever had sex. (And actually it’s down to 37% here in NJ as of last year!) People lie and exaggerate and can talk a good game when it comes to sex. But in the end, it doesn't matter who's telling the truth or not. The only truth that matters is what's best for you.
MYTH: You're a prude if you want to wait until you're older or married.
REALITY: Actually, you're being pretty smart. Every person is unique and many teens decide to wait to have sex. The truth is that most teens who have had sex say they wish they had waited longer and the younger teens are when they first have sex, the more likely they are to regret it—and the less likely they are to use protection.
MYTH: Guys are always ready for sex.
REALITY: Guys may have a reputation for always thinking about sex, but, just like all stereotypes, that’s not necessarily true. Think about it—you may love playing soccer, but sometimes, you'd just rather go to the movies. In fact, 2 out of 3 guys say they’d rather have a relationship but no sex—how’s that for busting this myth!?
MYTH: Girls never pressure guys to have sex—pressure always comes from guys.
REALITY: Again, there's that stereotyping thing causing lots of trouble. Every person, and every combination of people, is different. Pressure can come from anyone, regardless of gender, sexual experience, or age. 1 in 5 guys say they’ve been pressured by a girl to go further sexually than they wanted to.
MYTH: You'll marry the first person you have sex with.
REALITY: Sadly, this one is rarely true. Even though your first love or the first person you have sex with feels like the one you'll love forever, the reality is that most first time sexual relationships are romantic but short-lived. 8 out of 10 first time teen sexual relationships last 6 months or less and one-quarter are one-time occurrences.
MYTH: Drinking and drugs make sex much more fun.
REALITY: If you're drunk or high, it's hard to make good decisions about sex. 20% of 15- to 17-year-olds say they have done something sexual while using alcohol or drugs that they might not have done if they were sober. It might seem fun to have your inhibitions washed away by alcohol or drugs, but that also means you could end up with something much worse than a hangover: a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or an unplanned pregnancy. People are also much more likely to be victims of rape and assault when substance use/ abuse mixes with sexual activity.
MYTH: You can't get pregnant the first time you have sex.
REALITY: If you are ovulating it doesn't matter if it's the first time or the hundredth time you've had sex, you can still get pregnant. You get pregnant when the sperm fertilizes the egg. Neither the sperm nor the egg care how many times you've had sex previously. The only way to avoid the risk of pregnancy is to not have sex at all.
MYTH: Girls can't get pregnant during their period.
REALITY: There is a chance that you can get pregnant if you have sex during your period. Once in the vagina, sperm can stay alive for several days—that means that, even if the last time you had sex was three days ago during your period, you could now be ovulating and therefore you could get pregnant. It’s kind of complicated, so just remember this: ANY time you have sex you can get pregnant!
MYTH: You can't get pregnant if you've never had a period.
REALITY: You may ovulate 14 days before your first period so it is possible to get pregnant even if you haven't had your first period yet.
MYTH: There's no method of birth control that's 100% effective.
REALITY: Not having sex is a form of birth control and it is definitely 100% effective. If you aren't having sex, you can't get pregnant or get someone else pregnant. It's just that simple. Learn more about waiting.
MYTH: Drinking Mountain Dew will prevent pregnancy.
REALITY: The rumor that ingredients in Mountain Dew (and other popular sodas) lower guys' sperm count has been around for years, but the simple truth is that ‘Doing the Dew’ doesn't do anything to sperm. Drinking soda isn't going to do anything but maybe give you a cavity.
Hang Ups and Hook Ups
Text based relationships are all too familiar these days and can lack depth and be superficial, leaving many young people wondering if this is all there is to be desired. The pervasiveness of technology has created an environment that has become a platform for teens to navigate their sexuality. Strangers are dating before even meeting in person and connecting over messaging rather than face to face. We’re entering pseudo relationships and ending them before they ever really started or the second someone else messages us or gives us any attention with a winky face emoticon. So is the relationship even real if you never spent any face time together… and I don’t mean Face Time or Skyping! The problem with today’s dating culture is that there really isn’t one! Teens I talk to in high school or college are either hooking up or hanging out, but no one’s defining the relationship, having ‘the-talk’, or going on real dates to get to know each other! This hook-up culture is leaving this generation Y “unhappy, sexually unfulfilled, and confused about intimacy,” according to a NY Times magazine article by Andrew Reiner on February 9, 2014. He goes on to say that there’s a general fear of vulnerability and appearing needy. They’re hoping that a relationship will just ‘simply unfold’ through hooking up.
So how do we teach a generation to find a real relationship with emotional intimacy before physical intimacy? Well it’s not going to change overnight, but being aware of it and really challenging yourself to step out of the ‘norm’ and not be afraid to take a risk by really getting to know someone on a deeper emotional level is a start. Sure, it might hurt more at the end if you really open up to someone about your innermost fears, dreams, desires, etc… but is love even love if we don’t take that risk? Also, be aware who’s around you each day and connect with people in person. Don’t ignore the person sitting right next to you to chat with the stranger online. Sometimes the greatest relationships can happen when we least expect it! Nonetheless any relationship worth pursuing isn't just ‘going to happen’ without putting in the time and effort. So it’s all about timing, and once you find that person worthy of your time and energy, don’t hesitate to give it your all and hope for the best!
Recognizing Your True Potential
We are all unique individuals, each with our own personality. We all have our individual quirks, talents, goals and dreams! It’s important to take the time to search ourselves and really get to know who we are and what our special or unique talents are that we’re able to offer the world. Sometimes we can don’t take the time to really recognize what sets us apart from everyone else and just how amazing we truly can be! It can be easy to lose yourself in another person and make it hard to identify where one person ends and the other begins. A few things can happen when we become so dependent on another person, we may find ourselves using the other person for what we can get out of them, or else we may fail to recognize our own potential and greatness. So take some time and find out who you really are… what are some of the things that make you you? Get some time away and in those quiet, peaceful moments, what do you envision for your life? What are your dreams for the future? Where do you find your mind wandering to? What are the things that you long to give back to this world? Take some time to discover your own strengths and live each day to its fullest!
Let’s Have a Conversation…
Did you know that you can communicate with others without even saying a word? Think about your body language for a moment, are you confident and look people straight in the eye when talking to them? Do you have good posture and hold your head up high? Do you smile and use animated facial expressions? “Talk” with your hands? What about your body language, are you connecting successfully? Communication is one of the most important qualities of a healthy relationship, and it’s also one of the most important aspects of life and having your thoughts heard and understood!
So how do you know if you’re being understood and communicating effectively? One good way to measure is by how your friends and family react to what you’re saying. Are they comprehending what you’re trying to get across? Do they often have to ask you to repeat things or explain yourself further? If so, maybe you have to work on a new approach. Ask someone you know and trust, who communicates well, to help you with this. Better communication will also help bring down your frustration level and feel more understood… and eventually lead to healthier relationships!