October 9, 2013
I just came off a radio interview on the topic of teen dating violence. (Excellent timing for my Kindness and Respect Challenge. )One of the other guest experts, Associate Professor Emily Rothman of Boston University School of Public Health, said that 10% of teens report having experienced physical violence in a dating relationship. (Hitting, slapping, kicking, sexual coersion, etc.) Apparently that number has been fairly constant over the past 15-20 years. What has been increasing is emotional/psychological abuse in dating relationships. That ranges from name-calling, insults and threats, to dictating what a partner can wear and who s/he can talk to. 25-30% of teens report having experienced emotional/psychological dating abuse. Any controlling behavior (typically on the part of males toward females) is disrespectful. It also frequently leads to physical violence. Because many girls value their close relationships so much it can be hard for them to stand up for themselves and set boundaries.
In this recent email a girl describes to me the disrespectful treatment she gets in a friendship. Substitute the word “boyfriend” for “best friend” and you’ll see we’re talking about a common challenge for teen girls: “How do I get the respect I deserve from the people I care about?”
I have a best friend and she’s keeping me in jail. (Well, that’s what I think.) It’s like she won’t let me be friends with anyone or else she’ll be jealous. If she’s jealous, she’ll seek for revenge and I will be miserable and not able to concentrate on my studies. I’ve always wanted to tell her that I don’t wanna be her best friend anymore but I don’t have the confidence to say that. My heart says it’s the best thing to do. Do you think it’s the right decision?
Don’t Wanna Be a Doormat
Dear Don’t Wanna Be,
I agree with your heart. From what you describe, this “best friend” of yours isn’t acting like a friend at all. In your own words she:
• gets jealous if you are friends with anyone
• seeks for revenge
What kind of “friend” is that!?
Do I have to tell you your next best move? Nah. You already know what you need to do. This friendship is not a healthy one. It lacks the key ingredient: mutual respect. This is bullying prevention month. And what’s going on in this friendship is a form of bullying.
You need to end this. I know that is a scary thought. So take some slow deep breaths, right here, right now, and calm yourself. Get your confidence up and say to yourself, “I deserve friends who treat me with respect.” Think it and say it over and over until you can say it with confidence and know that it’s true.
Get to that point and you should be able to say something like this to your friend, “When you try to control who I am friends with by getting jealous and angry at me, I feel like I am in jail. Friends shouldn’t treat each other that way. It’s disrespectful. I’ve been feeling like this for a while but I haven’t told you. Even though I was scared I should have told you. Friends should be able to talk to each other about the hard stuff. I apologize. We don’t seem bring out the best in each other. That is why I am taking a break from this friendship.”
I hope this helps.
Tune in tomorrow (Day 10) for an update from Don’t Wanna Be a Doormat
*(Excerpted from my upcoming The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship)
UPDATE October 3, 2014: The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship: 50 Ways to Fix a Friendship Without the DRAMA is now available in print and on Kindle (the ebook can be read on any device, your mobile phone, tablet, or computer with the free Kindle reader app). Visit GirlsQandA.com for an excerpt, reviews, and to order your copy.
April 15, 2013
This morning’s email brought some of the usual questions from TeenWorld:
- How do I stop being shy so I can make more friends?
- Should I tell me bff that I kissed her bf?
- My friend can be kinda mean, but my life wouldn’t be the same with out her. What should I do?
- My parents accuse me of smoking and doing drugs. I don’t! How can I get them to trust me?
Be careful what you wish for
And then there was this one. Even though I’ve heard it before, somehow it felt new. I responded right away, but if that’s all I did only one girl would see it. For something this important I decided to go bigger.
Girls, have a read. So when it comes to self-respect, relationships and sex, we can get clear on a few basics. If you’re a mom with a girl of your own, you should read it too. (Just don’t go nuts and accuse your daughter of anything! Not helpful for keeping open the portals of trust and communication.) And if you’re a teen guy or a dad, probably a good idea for you to read it too. Then you can think (and maybe even talk) about respect and relationships and the god’s honest truth that girls and guys don’t typically share a common perspective on sex and what it means.
A lot of my friends have lost their virginity and I really want to lose it and get it over and done with. This guy that I’ve known for ages but haven’t seen for a while wants me to come over tomorrow have sex with him. I want to, but I don’t know what the consequences are. A lot of people said you get attached and some don’t. I don’t know what to do. Can you please help me!!!
Wanna Lose it Already
Dear Wanna Lose It,
I don’t know if your friends are in loving, mutually respectful relationships (I sure hope so) but if what they’re doing is right for them, that doesn’t automatically make it right for you. You wrote to me for a second opinion. That indicates you’re wondering if having sex is the right move for you at this time.
You asked about the “consequences.” I don’t know how old you are or why you’re in such a hurry to not be a virgin any more. But I do know that sex isn’t something you do because you want it to be “over and done with.” That makes sense if you’re talking about taking out the trash or working on a dreaded homework assignment. But when it comes to sex, getting it “over and done with” is wrong thinking that will lead to a lot of disappointment and heartache.
Sex ought to be an act of love. If there isn’t mutual respect and trust, it’s just not good. Especially for girls. If your friends think of sex as something very casual that you do with just anybody, then it’s likely they will go from one sex partner to another, feeling crappy about themselves, empty and unloved.
Please do not follow in their footsteps.
As for the guy that you’ve know “for ages” who wants to have sex with you tomorrow. Don’t take that as a great offer or as a compliment. He wants to use your body so that he can have an orgasm. Afterwards, he will send you away and tell everyone what you let him do. Then his friends will text, saying they want to have sex with you too. Other girls will start talking about you. And if you do get “attached” to the first guy, he’ll make it very clear that he wants sex, not a relationship. All of this is going to make you feel horrible. And, on top of that, you might get pregnant. (Another very real consequence.) You might also get a sexually transmitted disease.
But what you most certainly will NOT get, is a feeling of being loved and treasured. You deserve that. If you settle for less you’ll regret it.
I hope this helps you sort out your feelings so that you can make your own decisions. One that’s 100% right for you.
January 26, 2013
I’ve been getting an awful lot of email lately from teens who feel abandoned by their bff. Usually the situation involves a “new girl” coming into the picture who is “stealing” a friend. If this has happened to you (or someone you know) maybe this teen’s email and my answer to it will be helpful. I hope so!
How come she doesn't want to be my friend anymore?
Me and “A” have been best friends since kindergarten and we are now in high school. In 7th grade, she started hanging out with this girl named “B.” Now “A” is with “B” all the time. “A” always has her FB status saying she’s “hanging out with my bestie” when she’s with “B.” I feel really jealous and sad. I feel like I shouldn’t be upset because she has the right to be friends with whoever she wants, but it still really hurts my feelings because I feel like she’s replaced me with someone who doesn’t like me. Any input to this would be great!
You are right when you say, “‘A’ has the right to be friends with whoever she wants.” And even though your head knows that this is true, your heart “still really hurts” because you miss the closeness you and “A” used to have. Because you don’t yet have another friend to share that same level of closeness with, you feel “jealous” and left-out. I understand.
Sometimes friends outgrow the friendship they have at the same time. Both friends, without saying as much, just start spending less and less time together. It doesn’t usually cause much hurt this way because both friends, for whatever reason, have turned their attention to other things and/or other people. But in this case, it sounds like “A” outgrew the friendship before you did. So you were left feeling “Hey! Come back! I don’t like being here without your friendship!”
My best advice is to try thinking of it this way: This wonderful, long-term friendship you had with “A” has given you many gifts. You two have had lots of great times. Laughed together. Shared secrets. Learned how to negotiate differences of opinions. Learned how to be honest with each other. Through your friendship with “A” you have learned so much about yourself. And one very important thing you’ve learned is what it means to be a great friend. You now have that skill and it’s yours, forever. Now’s the time to: a) Thank “A” for what she’s given you. b) Say goodbye to this phase of your friendship with “A.” You two may become close again in the future, but for now, this chapter has ended. And c) Take what you have learned about friendship and reach out to some new people. You have everything you need to create new friendships which will bring you more wonderful gifts.
Smile. It’s OK. I hope this helps you enjoy the rest of your weekend and the rest of the school year.
Thank you soo much for explaining it like that to me, it makes me feel much better about this situation.
Dear Happier Now,
I’m so glad to have helped. Have fun.
May 12, 2011
Didn't sign up for this!
It’s spring. Nature’s juices are flowing all around us… and inside us too. If you’re single and wish you weren’t and all that flowing juice isn’t enough to remind you how much you want a bf/gf, let’s add Prom to the mix!
If your top priority is getting a bf/gf , it may seem like your school is packed with lovey-dovey couples. The sight or the sound of them (talking endlessly about each other) may be enough to make you wanna scream, barf or cry.
If you have a bf/gf (w/the added status boost that comes with it) you probably don’t want to lose them. That’s why t(w)eens in relationships often try to ignore the bad stuff and convince themselves things are cool even when that little voice inside screams “I’m not happy!” Your Inner Voice knows you better than Mom. Ignoring its messages rarely helps a situation.
I just got this email from a girl who doesn’t seem to trust her Inner Voice, which is why she turned to me for a second opinion. What do you think of the opinion I gave her?
Me and this boy are together but he doesn’t call me and that makes me cry. I need help. What should I do?
It sounds like you and your bf have different ideas about what it means to be “together.” You’re unhappy because he’s not paying as much attention as you want. Have you talked to him about it? You might say something like, “I want you to call me every day.” (Or however often you think he should be calling.) Of course, telling him straight-up what you want is no guarantee that he’ll change his behavior.
The real question is: Does this guy want to be with you as much as you want to be with him? You deserve that level of interest from a boyfriend… but you can’t force someone to care about you. If he doesn’t want you, dry your tears, move on and find someone who treats you better. If you keep putting up with less than what you want, you’re sending him a message that says, “I don’t deserve any better than this from a boyfriend, so keep on ignoring me and I’ll keep putting up with it.”
If that’s not the message you want him to get, then tell him what you really mean.
I hope this helps.
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