Love is in the air…

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Yes, Valentine’s Day is coming and there are plenty of teenagers who might feel unloved, unattractive, and unnoticed because of a lack of a significant other. That dreaded or loved holiday is just around the corner, dealing with all the excitement, hopefulness, anxiety, and depression can be difficult. Love can take you to new highs — and new lows. You may have the strongest feelings of your life, which is great when things are good. But if things go bad, it’s devastating. According to Psychology Today, all of us have an intense desire to be loved and nurtured. The need to be loved, as Bowlby’s and others’ experiments have shown, could be considered one of our most basic and fundamental needs.” Healthy relationships and connections are essential to our health and wellbeing. They are essential for life success; in this post we hope to empower you with ideas that will help your relationships thrive.
Have you ever asked yourself “What is the purpose of dating?”, probably not because it seems like an easy question to answer, to find a partner, right? Right, there’s a little bit more to it than that though. The purposes of dating are to get to know yourself and others’ likes, dislikes, and values. You may find that you learn more about yourself than about the other person. To learn to feel more at ease in a relationship. To feel acceptance from another person who chooses to spend time with you. To develop a sense of independence. To discover what you want for yourself and to possibly prepare for a lasting relationship.
“Love Well: Teen edition magazine” published by The Center for Relationship Education in Denver, Colorado, offers key suggestions to successful dating to help you keep your head during this exciting time.
• Maintain your independence.
o Make sure to balance life outside of a romantic relationship.
• Use your brain.
o Balance romance with common sense, reason, judgement and discernment.
o Balance the head and the heart.
o Never neglect opportunities to evaluate along the way.
• Seek similarities.
o Healthy relationships have a strong foundation of similarities in background, temperament, goals, dreams, values and the way in which individuals manage and order their physical and mental lives.
• Take it slow.
o You do not get to know a person well in a short period of time.
o You need time to bond.
o You need to protect yourself from getting attached too quickly.
• Set clear boundaries.
o Draw definitive lines in the physical area of your relationship.
o Your body belongs to you.
o Communicate how you feel to your partner. Own you own feelings and be able to separate them from your date.
o Take ownership of your thoughts, and express them.
o Take responsibility for your own actions; don’t try to change someone.
o Don’t use substances and stay clear-headed.
• Engage in healthy responses to conflict.
o Avoid defensiveness, avoidance, invalidation and escalation.
o Fight fair: take time to consider what you really need to express, and be respectful to your partner. Be quiet and listen—seek to understand, then to be understood. Use “I” statements. Negotiate and compromise. Reevaluate your solution at a later time.
• Notice danger signs and end the relationship.
o Any form of abuse: physical, verbal, emotional, sexual or financial.
o Addictions.
o Untruthfulness in the relationship.
o Denial—you can’t admit that this relationship is unhealthy.
o Power struggles, jealousy, control and isolation from family and friends.
• Choose your dating and long term partner wisely.
o Discern character. Character is who you are when no one is looking. Look back at prior relationships to determine patterns of behavior. Crisis reveals someone’s true character. Give your relationship lots of time.
o Do you feel encouraged, affirmed, inspired and challenged to grow and be a better person when you are with him/her?

Before you go on your next date, the following information may help you navigate the terrain of relationships more effectively. Having a clearly defined road map will help you achieve your destination. There is a quote by Earl Nightingale that reads, “People with goals succeed because they know where they are going.” Mature love grows stronger with time. The more you get to know each other, the stronger your feelings. And you don’t have to be someone you’re not. You like each other for who you truly are. If you’re like most people, finding mature love takes more than one try, but it’s definitely worth it.
For more information visit www.myrelationshipcenter.org