By John Goetz, M.Ed. L.P.C.
"He is a stupid jerk or a confused wimp". The words a 16 year old girl uses to describe a 16 year old male caught in the snare of dating drama. A situation which is obvious to the detached spectators sitting in the stands watching these scenes play out but completely oblivious to the unfortunate souls playing out the drama. A friendly disclaimer, I am 46 years old and for the last 27 years been with the same hot girl (24 married plus 3 dating). Thus the only "dating drama" in my life is self inflected. Which come to think of it, isn't all "dating drama" self inflected? Seriously, what I hope to offer are some simple guidelines which if followed will help one avoid becoming ensnared in this drama.
First, all human beings have an intrinsic value which is priceless. In spiritual terms this is your immortal soul, in secular terms: people love you to the extent you love yourself. When you believe in yourself you invite others to believe in you through your actions. In all relationships we are treated to the standards we hold ourselves to and the expectancies we have of others. Consider the following, a teenager arrives to pick up a date or a friend, parks in front of the house, sends a text to their date or friend and the date or friends runs out the front door. One way of demonstrating respect for yourself and others would involve stopping, getting out of your car, going to the front door and meeting your date's or friend's family. On the other side of this scenario showing respect for yourself and others would consist of insisting your friend or date comes to your front door when they pick you up. A great example of "we teach people how to treat us."
Second, give your attention to the behavior you wish to see more of and ignore the behavior you wish to see less of. At the risk of being sexist and blunt, I would like to say to all girls and women of all ages: in general boys and men of all ages are very much like puppies, we will do what ever you demand in order to enjoy your company. Gals set the bar high and don't be afraid to send us packing. If he does not treat you like a lady then he is not worth your time. Guys, man up and do the right thing, if she does not demand the best from you, she is trouble. This behavior must be demanded from beginning, if you date, break up, make up, date, break up, make up you are just reinforcing drama. You reap what you sow.
Finally, parents as we all know true heartache is one of life greatest pains and it deserves a listening ear and comforting shoulder. There is no time frame for heartache but life does go on and daily expectations resume. One way we can help is by teaching our daughters they are precious and deserve to be treated with the respect they show others. Another is by teaching our sons that they are a reflection of how they treat others thus by treating women with respect they demonstrate respect for themselves. Also, remember Dad and Mom, how you treat each other (whether you are married or divorced) is the first example to your child as to how they will expect to be treated and how they will treat others.
The rewards of dating and friendships are worth the risk. Just remember, others will respect you to the extent you respect yourself. Self respect will limit drama.
(John Goetz is a Licensed Professional Counselor at Edmond Family Counseling 341-3554)
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