TIPS FOR HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS
- Just because you think “everyone is doing it,” doesn’t mean they are. Some are, some aren’t — and some are lying.
- There are a lot of good reasons to say “no, not yet.” Protecting your feelings is one of them.
- You’re in charge of your own life – don’t let anyone pressure you into having sex.
- You can always say “no” — even if you’ve said “yes” before.
- If you’re drunk or high, you can’t make good decisions about sex. Don’t do something you might not remember or might really regret.
- Sex won’t make him or her yours and a baby won’t make them stay.
TIPS FOR SELF-CONFIDENCE
Did you know that teens spend an average of 6.5 hours a day consuming some kind of media? And these days, with TV shows, movies, magazines, and basically everything we look at saturated with images of impossibly gorgeous girls and ridiculously buff guys, it can be no mean feat to develop a positive and realistic self-image.
But before you can even think about starting to get to know someone else, doesn’t it make sense to get to know yourself? Having self confidence is the first step in helping to make your future relationships healthy and long-lasting. This section offers some important ideas for getting (and keeping!) your confidence up.
- Associate with positive, supportive people. If your friends are constantly down on themselves (or you), how can you keep a good attitude?
- Stop comparing yourself to others. Yeah, she might have a gorgeous new car and he might be getting straight A’s, but do you know what’s going on behind the scenes in their lives? You rarely know the full story about someone else, so don’t assume that you’re worse off, unluckier, less gifted than they are.
- Stop putting yourself down. Most people say things to themselves that they would NEVER let a stranger (or even a close friend) say to them. You should be your biggest advocate, not your biggest critic.
One of the most important aspects of your personality – and one that impacts how self confident you are – is your maturity level. Maturity inspires patience, tolerance, and a genuine willingness to work out problems that might develop – key ingredients to a successful and healthy relationship. People at different levels of maturity with a variety of personalities find themselves attracted to different types of people. Being aware of your maturity level can be a huge help with developing a healthy relationship.
BOTTOM LINE: Do you have a clear idea of your personality? Of your goals, likes, dislikes, interests, values, wants, and needs? Personality characteristics tend to be fairly stable over time, but sometimes the many dimensions of our personality remain hidden to us until we are challenged by new experiences. If you haven’t considered these things – you might not be ready to enter into a healthy relationship. If you don’t know yourself, you’re probably not ready to truly know anyone else.
TIPS ON WAITING
Did you know that over 90% of teens believe that it’s important that they get a strong message about waiting to have sex? In fact, 60% of teens who have had sex wish they had waited longer and 75% don’t see anything embarrassing about admitting that they’re a virgin. Clearly, teens in the 21st century are recognizing merit in putting off sex and the consequences – both physical and emotional – that are attached to sex.
Some things to keep in mind about waiting:
- Over half of all teens are not having sex, and of the half that are, most regret it and wish they had waited.
- Unfortunately, the half who aren’t sexually active sometimes think they’re the only ones because they’ve bought the #1 Sex Myth: everybody’s doing it.
- Moreover, some teens lie about having sex… when you think everybody’s doing it – and you know you’re not – lying can seem like the easiest option.
- We also know from surveys that boys show significant respect—though often unspoken—for girls who resist pressure to have sex and remain virgins.
- It’s hard to believe, but most first time sexual relationships are romantic but short-lived. Eight out of ten first time teen sexual relationships last 6 months or less and one-fourth are one-time occurrences.
There are a million good reasons to put off having sex and one of the best is that your instincts are telling you to do so…you shouldn’t be having sex because all of your friends are (or because you think all of your friends are) or because people on TV and in the movies do it and never face any repercussions. Sex is a very personal and intimate choice between two people and should be treated with respect. But if you’re looking for some more concrete facts to consider, how about the fact that:
- Sex creates expectations. Sex often doesn’t mean the same thing to two people. One person usually wants the sex to mean something—such as a relationship, commitment, or love. The other person may simply expect that sex will continue, as in ”we had sex today and we’ll have it again tomorrow.”
- Sex-too-soon can stop a relationship in its tracks. Even though it seems counter-intuitive, this is definitely true. Because of unmatched expectations over the meaning of sex, there is often less honesty and less real talking about both people’s true feelings which leads to more wondering about the real feelings and intentions of the other person…then comes the pressuring. Often one person is pressuring for more sex and the other is pressuring for a relationship or a commitment. The result: instead of honesty, openness, and meaningful conversations that build a bond of friendship and genuine intimacy, there is more questioning, dishonesty, second-guessing, and pressuring. You can’t build trust in this situation.
- Sex can take over a relationship. When there’s nothing else to build on – like shared experiences or interests – sex can become the major focus. It means a relationship mainly becomes planning opportunities for sex instead of doing fun and interesting things and just plain enjoying each other’s company.
- Sex can keep a bad relationship going that should have been ended. Sex doesn’t necessarily mean love – instead, it often confuses two persons’ understanding of what each sees in the other. On its own, it can create the illusion of closeness and often becomes a substitute for genuine emotional intimacy and can sometimes keep two people together who should have broken up. The point is, when you use sex to try to get love or mistakenly believe your partner is on the same emotional page as you, you might find yourself disappointed. From there, your impression of sex can quickly lose all its special meaning and beauty.
WHAT REAL TEENS ARE SAYING
Hector, 18: As I was growing up, my parents, especially my mother, told me that making love was this very special thing. I always figured I’d wait until I was a lot older. But a friend fixed me up with a girl from another school last year, and it happened. This girl and I only went out twice. I hardly knew her, but she came on to me so strong that I kind of stopped using my head. I still can’t believe I let myself get pushed into it that way.
Jake 17: All the guys are players. Everyone’s cheating left and right… lots of girls too. No one trusts anyone. Something tells me there’s something better than this. When I look inside me, I don’t feel good about what I’m doing. And, although I’d never say it out loud, I gotta lot a respect for those girls who ain’t just putting out. That’s the kinda girl I want someday.
Kelly, 16: I was sixteen and a virgin when I started dating Brian. He was great looking, older, sophisticated. I thought about him every minute. I was completely in love. After a few weeks, we were having sex—in fact, we did it every time we had a chance to be together. At first, I was so happy being with him but then I got scared and upset. I was afraid he would leave me and I felt kind of guilty. Here I was sleeping with this guy, and I was starting to figure out that he didn’t feel about me like I did about him. I was so sure I loved him, but I realize now that I didn’t really know him. I didn’t know then what it means to really know a guy. The truth is that, after a while, the biggest thing between us was sex.
Sandra, 17: I always dreamed that I’d meet the perfect guy and that we’d be so much in love and have this wonderful romance. But I guess I was too anxious to be in love. If a boyfriend would tell me that having sex would deepen our relationship, I went along with it. But I would just end up getting hurt because after we had sex, we would end up having lots of problems and breaking up. This kept happening to me.
John, 17: When I was younger, I ruined a lot of relationships by pushing so hard for sex. I’m kind of ashamed when I look back on it. Sure, I took girls out for dinner or a movie… but my main goal was to get them to bed. I pushed pretty hard. Lots of nice girls didn’t want to go out with me after a few dates. When I look back, I’m embarrassed about what they must have thought of me.
Melanie, 19: I think on the topic of sex I’m starting to understand it more and more as I get older. I have really changed my views about sex and am quite different about how I choose to be with someone. I wasn’t really happy when I was involved with someone and we were intimate, but I still did it. Now, I can’t even get close to doing that and it will probably take a long time for me to want to even think about it! I really need to feel connected and cannot have a relationship like that any more knowing how unhappy it truly made me.
What do you think? Have advice for other teens struggling with this issue? Want to tell your story? Send us an email!