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TEEN Relationships

Close up of a teen couple wearing shoes
Sex and relationships are inextricably tied together. We can’t talk about sexual integrity without talking about relationships. We want to give just a few guiding principles to consider in dating relationships. We recognize that these sorts of relationship are sometimes great, but often complicated, painful and confusing. We can’t solve that for you, it’s sort of the nature of the beast, but we do hope to lessen some of the confusion and pain by offering some helpful suggestions:

  1. Remember that you are in high school. This might be difficult to hear, but the relationship you’re in now is probably going to come to an end at some point. It is not likely that you will marry any boyfriend or girlfriend you have in high school. It can happen, but usually doesn’t. We hope this will actually be relieving to you. It means that your relationship is not the end of the world. You can enjoy dating somebody and getting to know them but they don’t have to be your whole life. In fact, they shouldn’t be.
  2. Be open to breaking up. Don’t be afraid to let a relationship end. Sometimes the best thing for a dating relationship is to end it. A lot of dating relationships, especially in high school, are simply unhealthy and not worth continuing. It hurts to end it, it’s difficult, but it won’t hurt forever. Here are some clues that your relationship is unhealthy and may need to end:
    You’ve moved past physical boundaries that you are comfortable with, or were comfortable with when the relationship started.
    You’ve isolated and cut off from your friends and family.
    Either you or they are becoming increasingly controlling.
    You’ve lost sight of your own dreams and goals. You only ever want what they want.
    There is consistent underlying tension.
    Your grades have dropped.
    You don’t feel like yourself when you’re with them.
    You feel bad in your “gut” about the relationship.
    You’ve become involved in risky, unhealthy or illegal activities.These are all clues that your relationship is off track. Sometimes it can be salvaged and you can work through it, but sometimes you just need to break up. It’s a good idea to be open to that.
  3. Loving somebody is more than saying that you love somebody. Just because they say they love you does not mean they actually, really, love you. The only way to really know if they love you is if they act lovingly toward you. Love is about the other person. If they aren’t concerned with how you think and feel about things, they often act selfishly, or manipulate you into things you aren’t comfortable with, then they don’t really love you. That does not mean they don’t have feelings for you, or that they don’t care at all about you, but it does mean they are too immature to love you in a real way.
  4. Friends are way more important than significant others. If you are married this isn’t true; but since you aren’t, it is. Put way more energy into building lasting friendships than boyfriend or girlfriend relationships. Have good friends who care about you and can support you. They’re the ones who will be there to comfort you when your high-school-dating-relationship inevitably ends.
  5. Be Picky. Just because they have a pulse and think you’re attractive doesn’t mean they are good boyfriend or girlfriend material. Many students are far too immature to care about other people more than themselves. There are a few people out there who actually do love other people well. Those kinds of people are worth waiting around for. If you’re picky you might not develop as many relationships as some of your friends, but they will be super jealous of who you end up with.
  6. Focus more on being the right person than finding the right person. Don’t expect to land an awesome boyfriend or girlfriend, who wants the best for you and has a big vision for life if you haven’t figured any of that out yourself. High school is a time where a lot of maturity is developed. Focus on growing in maturity and character and people who are like you will gravitate toward you. Being the kind of person you want to end up with is the best way to end up with the kind of person you want to be with.
  7. You are valuable. This is so important. It is important in part because most people don’t really believe it. As a result, many students end up in abusive (physical, verbal, sexual, emotional) relationships and don’t believe they deserve better. We want to say, quite strongly, that you are more valuable than that. A guy or girl who is giving you no practical evidence that would lead you to believe they really respect or love you isn’t worth your time. Those who love and care about you want better for you than that and would want you to know that relationships don’t have to be that way. If you are experiencing abuse in your relationship, or have in your past, click here to get connected with some resources to help.

Hopefully these simple pieces of advice can save you trouble as you navigate the world of relationships. This advice has been developed largely in response to questions we get from students just like you. We hope it helps. We really do want the best for you! For answers to questions related to your specific circumstances, shoot us an email .