I just read an interesting article:
This touches on something I’ve felt strongly about for some time. It has gotten stronger since I know have a teenage son. When I was going through junior high and high school, I wanted a boyfriend desperately. Boys didn’t give me the time of day, for the most part. But everyone around me had boyfriends, girlfriends, were in and out of relationships. Of course, at that age I didn’t recognize that boys that age are only interested in one thing. I wanted an emotinonal connection. I wanted someone special to talk to and share my life with. I wanted a best friend that I could hold hands with and go on romantic walks and look at the stars at night. Innocent stuff. God was looking out for me, though I didn’t realize it, and I spent those years in frustration. Of course, the other side to that was I wondered what was wrong with me since boys never gave me a second glance.
I got to college, and while I was more mature in many ways, I was still naive and didn’t have any relational experience. I got my first boyfriend my sophomore year. He had had several girlfriends, in high school and a couple since being at college. I didn’t stop to think what that might mean. From the moment he asked me to date him and I said “yes” he was pushing the “I love you.” I was like, hold on there! I agreed to date him because I enjoyed being with him and we seemed to have a lot in common. We had become friends that year and started spending a lot of time together, but I was no where near where I could say I love you. To me, saying that was a commitment. I had seen kids in high school saying I love you to their significant other, and then a week later had broken up and wouldn’t even speak to each other. That isn’t love! You can’t love a person one moment and not love them the next. At most that is infatuation or lust. Love doesn’t fluctuate like that. Real love is in it for the long haul and overcomes obstacles. For me, I couldn’t say I love you until I felt fairly confident I wanted a long term commitment to him — like the first step toward marriage. I seemed to be the only person who felt and saw things that way.
As a mom now, I see the pressure on our kids. My son is 15. He doesn’t have a girlfriend, nor does he really want one. He tells us that he doesn’t want to even think about girlfriends until he gets out of high school. Honestly, I think the major reason is that he hasn’t found a girl he likes, and that is a good thing. He doesn’t need to get caught up in the idea that you have to be in a relationship just to be in a relationship. We have told him for a long time that he isn’t allowed to date for some time. We’ve explained to him that he needs to get to know people before thinking about dating anyone in particular. But you wouldn’t believe the pressure he is under from his friends and even older guys. Weekly he is being told, you need a girlfriend! Fortunately my son isn’t one to give in to peer pressure when he has convictions about something. But I hate that he has this pressure on him.
I have a friend who has a teenage girl. She has been told from a young age that she is not allowed to date anyone until her parents meet the boy. However, she has still “dated” boys at school. The “dating” has been relegated to simply hanging out and talking at school, but she still considers them having been her boyfriend and she calls them “ex’s” This is a direct result of peer influence. It’s what her friends are doing, it’s how her friends are talking, and she’s falling in step with them instead of listening to what her parents have told her. It IS for her protection and best interest, but fitting in is more important to her. That and the need for acceptance. I see her as much like myself when I was her age — the desperate desire for a special boy to shower all his attention on me and be that best friend to hold hands with. But she is too young and naive to realize that at this age boys are only interested in one thing and will constantly be trying to get in her pants. If she doesn’t give in, they will move on to someone they think they have a better chance with. Sometimes guys never outgrow this. This is why it is so important to get to know people before making any kind of commitment.
Things didn’t work out with my first boyfriend. I was a little too naive at the time, a naivity that comes from inexperience. I’m not sure exactly how to make kids savvy without the experience, but I guess we parents will keep trying. My best friend decided that her kids were not going to date, they were going to do courting. Courting is a very old fashioned tradition, one very out of vogue in today’s society. Most don’t completely understand the concept, they rank it right up there with arranged marriages (which I’m not sure isn’t a good idea in some respects! j/k) But courting means that you don’t date around. You spend time getting to know a variety of people in various settings and then decide to commit to one person. Now that I have some age and experience on me, courting should have been the way for me to go, but like I said, it was a foreign concept at that time. I am a person who can’t take the roller coaster of dating people. My first relationship failed. It was also short lived. Things went too far, too fast and it burnt itself out like a supernova. I probably went out on five dates in the next three years, but none of them serious. Then a friend I’d lost contact with got back in touch with me. We spent a couple months getting reacquainted. I hadn’t seen or heard from him in three years. When we had been in college together we had hung around in the same group of friends, so he was a friend I felt I could call on at any time for any reason, but we hadn’t been especially close. But in a short amount of time he expressed interest in dating me. I turned him down. I saw him as a big brother figure. I couldn’t wrap my head around romance with him. It felt icky just to think about. So he agreed to just stay friends and there was no pressure. We just let the relationship progress naturally. I can’t tell you exactly when my feelings changed, but eventually they did and we did start dating. We will have been married 16 years at the end of this month. And it was this experience that showed me that becoming a friend first helps build the best relationships.
I’ve seen many married couples who are basically just roommates with benefits. I often ask myself, why did they get married? Yeah, they say they got married because they were in love. I think they mistook “love” for “lust.” Your spouse should be your best friend. There has to be more to a relationship than sex, otherwise it won’t last. And that is where our society is today.
Now, the question is, how do we change it?