Teen Dating

Let me give you a quick review. I have four children. I’m divorced. I prefer to say we are co-parenting rather than single parenting. I refer to my children collectively as the fan4 or fantastik4. The oldest will be 17 soon and I lovingly refer to him as The Teenager. Second up is my daughter who is now 14 and she is my Honeygirl. The third one, who has the qualities of the attention grabbing middle child, is 11 and referred to as Little Dude. The last one in our line up is my baby boy who is nine. He acts like he’s 39 most of the time. He’s the self appointed referee for Little Dude and often finds himself blowing the whistle, throwing flags and explaining the rules of life to him. From now on we shall refer to him as Ref. I determined early on to protect their identities since I share things that occur in their lives. 

Dating… (Insert eye roll and a deep sigh) (after I typed that I realized I should use some really funny meme but since I don’t have a stock pile of them to flip through and select from I’m using good old fashioned words) I will not lie, I’m not a fan of teen dating. After polling my daughter and her previous bff, we determined that from middle school to high school the average relationship lasts about four weeks. We have six six week grading session during the school year. By the time they begin middle school in sixth grade until they graduate they could potentially have “dated” 63 people at the rate of nine per year. 

But what is dating at 11 or even at 16? 

When I think about my daughter and her friend excitedly discussing dating and boys in general it made me sad and a bit anxious. 

Sad because the friend felt incomplete and was upset with her parents because they wouldn’t allow her to date. She really wanted her very own boyfriend. This disagreement sparked a rebellion and she began running away. My daughter has been asking me about dating for years. She asks her dad and me to define the timeline and allowed activities. His standard answer is 36. Mine is based on maturity and decision making ability. She is enamored with dating. I refer to it as the Disney effect. After watching those popular teen shows she thinks dating has perfect lighting, a laugh track, great clothes, hair and make up as well as a great ending. Periodically I like to dash their dating dreams on the rocks of reality and talk about kissing, hugging, touching and what if that’s not what you want? What’s your exit plan? How do you protect yourself from a person who may overpower or manipulate you into something you aren’t ready to do?

I was anxious because a lot of adults don’t have the cognitive ability to select a good partner and remain committed. If after years of education, reading articles, blogs, after video viewing and talking to other people we as adults make questionable relationship choices then how are they expected to make sound decisions at such a young age? Each dating partner is given a tiny piece if not large chunk of their hearts. They aren’t looking for spouses. They are looking for good times. They aren’t searching for anything deep and long lasting. It’s fleeting and shallow. 

Exhibit 1- the teenager went on a first date to the movies recently with some girl he met through a friend. He asked her to be his girlfriend the next day. She asked him to join her at church on Sunday, meet her parents and have lunch with her family afterwards. She prepped him on what her parents would say and how to respond. I texted his dad with my concerns of how quickly this was moving. She broke up with him the next day. 

I’m glad I never really learned her name or got attached. I don’t even want to know the newest interest’s name until they make it past the four week mark. 

I’m not into the whole bring people home so I can meet them thing. My two brothers ruined that for me. They brought everybody by the house. It wasn’t something special it was normal. I have a male friend who whole heartedly disagrees with me. He wants to meet any and everybody his daughter dates. The one time he and is ex found out she had a boyfriend they planned a family dinner and invited him over. They broke up after the invite but before dinner. 

I understand the desire to have somebody to call your very own.  Who doesn’t want their very own George or squishy? I have friends who met the loves of their lives in high school. It happens. Is it possible to somehow bypass the other 62 people to get to that one? Yes, it is. Serial dating does not have to become their norm neither does looking for someone to define or complete them. 

How are you helping your teen manuver through the obstacle dating course?

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Are you the main squeeze?

I went to a very nice place on Friday with some friends. One side of the place was an upscale restaurant and the other side was an upscale bar. As we walked in, one of the men in the group said, wives to the left, other women to the right. I didn’t catch on to what he said immediately but after he repeated it, I understood. You see, he was saying that husbands bring their wives to this place and take them to dinner in the restaurant section. Now, the bar wasn’t your typical neighborhood bar, it has a cigar room, the waiters and waitresses are dressed nicely, they give you warm towels and a lemon before bringing your food and they provide you with white linen napkins but it’s still to the right.
We laughed about his statement and then of course I knew I had a write a blog about that conversation. Now fellas, I am talking to the ladies. You can continue to read and you can comment but this one is not for you.

Alright ladies, it has happened to all of us at one time or another. You are dating a guy. He treats you the way you want to be treated. You have told your girlfriends about him and you may have even introduced him to friends and family. You consider him your man. Let me tell you how you know he’s not exclusively your man and you are not his main squeeze which means you are not his number one babe.

Does he consistently take you to the bar? I was doing that online dating thing and one guy kept inviting me out on dates to bars. Granted, some of the places were restaurant with bars but we always went to the bar section. After the third or fourth date I told him I like eating at restaurants and did not want to go to another bar. He invited me to one of my favorite restaurants and guess what? We sat at the bar. That was our last date. He received a Dear John text after that.

Are the only relatives you meet counting their last breaths or the ones the family has disowned?
He’s trying to make you feel like you are special but if you don’t meet the healthy relatives and the ones who get invited to family functions, you are not the main boo.

Speaking of family functions, if you have never been invited to one that means you are not the main one. Even if his family lives out of town, planes, trains and automobiles can get you to them. If you mean something to him, he will want to share you with his family.

He doesn’t allow you to come to his house or never invites you in his house. Do you know how much work it takes to remove pictures and feminine touches in a house? If he doesn’t let you in, there is somebody living there. I don’t care what he says, it’s not his sister, mother, aunt or cousin. It’s his honey and he is not allowing you in her house. Have you heard the saying, “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned?” He does not want to make her mad. Instead, he will take you to another bar.

Does he say he is active in his religion but never invites you to worship with him? He may come with you periodically but you have never been with him? No, you are not the girlfriend.

For my college ladies, if you are dating an athlete and he never invites you to see him play or if he is in a fraternity and he avoids you the night of the after party then you are not his college sweetheart.

He has limited availability. If he only calls you from the car, never between certain hours and hardly ever on the weekends it’s because he is with his wife and kids or number one woman which is not you.

If he puts distance between you when you are in public. He makes excuses not to hold your hand in or doesn’t walk beside you because he “just walks fast” then walk faster or face the reality.

I know if you are in the situation it’s hard to face the realities but there is someone out there that will take you to the left side of the restaurant, introduce you to his family and hold your hand in public.

Do you remember?

Do you remember the song that was playing during your first slow dance? This is not mine but I like this song. I will just listen to this as I try to think back to the seventh grade dance. I wore a pink dress with a white lace collar. I went alone because I was too young to date although I did like somebody. I can’t say we really slow danced as much as stood close to each other and moved in sync to the music. Yes I know this song is more appropriate for a wedding but I’m not reflecting on that memory at this moment.
Take it away Randy!