Not long ago a guy who lives in our neighborhood came over to talk to my daughter. He’s a nice kid, but socially awkward from autism and he’s about 16 (We’ll call him Joe). My daughter is just 16, tall, cute, edgy clothes and style and she’s really kind and caring (We’ll call her Xandra). So Joe puts his arm around Xandra while talking to her on the porch. She does not like Joe in that way, but didn’t want to hurt his feelings, didn’t know what to do and froze. So Joe got to finish the conversation with his arm around Xandra.
So Xandra and I had a talk. This is the gist of that talk:
Testosterone is like a swarm of bees flying around your head. It’s distracting, noisy, and precarious. If you want to communicate something of importance to a teenage boy, you need to be clear, direct, and loud enough to be heard over the noise of their swarm. Boys on the other hand will have a hard time communicating what they are thinking or what they want, but are more inclined to “do” something and hope their actions speak for them. So he put his arm around you, meaning “I like you, and I want to be your boyfriend and I want to connect with you and experience you”, and you said nothing, which means… “I do too”.
When he put his arm around you, he had a little bit of expectation of how things would go, and if you had drawn the line there, he would have been hurt, but that is like falling from inches. Now, he has huge expectations; he has probably spent the last few days daydreaming about what this all means. When you say “Sorry, but no” the next time you see him, and you have to address this the next time you see him, and you have to be clear enough and direct enough to be heard over his swarm of bees, he will fall from great heights, and it will hurt him. So in the end, there was nothing compassionate about being gentle and tolerant and permissive in the beginning.
You are beautiful. You are tall and you have a great body, and you have a really cute face with eyes that show caring and compassion and deep, intelligent thoughts. You have purple hair and a crazy style. When you walk in the room, you change the atmosphere; you make things more fun. When you talk, you are deep and thoughtful. And you are industrious; you can make things happen. You are powerful. You will be noticed by a lot of guys. You will be approached a lot. If you don’t recognize your own value, and decide for yourself what you want in a guy, and you are afraid of hurting anyone, then you will end up in a relationship with the first guy that asks after you are 17 (not allowed to date in my house till 17), and you will not be available for the guy that you really want to be with.
X: “So, what do I say to him, or someone like him?”
You say, “I’m sorry, I’m not into dating right now and when I am, I want to date someone who is first, my friend. So let’s just stay friends”
X: “But then he’ll think he still has a shot, and I really am not attracted to him at all.”
Ah, yea, so say “Joe, last time we talked you put your arm around me and I really didn’t want to hurt you so I didn’t say anything, but I am not interested in you like that, so don’t touch me any more, ok?”
X: “That seems harsh”
Yea… clear, direct, loud enough to be heard over the noise of the swarm (the million thoughts that are fueled by testosterone). If you soft-sell it or hide behind “my parents won’t let me date”, then they are not going to understand and are going to act like you didn’t say anything.
Being physical in a relationship is something you want to put off anyway. You add physicality to a relationship because you think it will add intimacy and it does the exact opposite. Break the word intimacy down into these words “Into Me, See!” When you start dating and there is no physical touch, you only have words to connect each other, so you talk. You find out about them, their favorite color, why it is their favorite color, hobbies they like, fun things they have done, stupid things they have done, how their parents divorce changed them, how they think, who they really are. You see into them and they see into you. When you finally have that first kiss, that is the last thing that you will find out about them for a while.
Yea, when you kiss, you realize that it is fun, you want to do it again, so you go on a date, thinking about kissing. You eat dinner or whatever and have light chit-chat and then as quick as you can, you get to the car… [lots of smooching and slobbering sounds]. The relationship changes. I’m not going to say that it’s not fun, but I will say that the relationship will not get any deeper, at least not for a long time. So save that stuff for someone you really want to have a long relationship with, or even be with forever.
X: “What is ‘friend zone’ and why is that bad?”
The term “friend zone” is a social meme that is used to either make someone feel bad because they are there, or to try and pressure someone into not putting them there. This is the problem with that social mirror thing I talk about. People watch the media and learn about dating from TV (cause there parents don’t talk to them like this), so based on what you see in the media a date is a ‘failure’ if you don’t get to at least first and maybe second base. So when you date someone for the first time, you have to be the one to adjust the expectations of what you want. This is one of the big benefits of going to a big youth group where they talk about dating and relationships; when you go on a date with a guy from your youth group, you will both have the same expectations and it makes things a lot easier. If they are someone else from school, then you have to say, “I’m glad to be going on a date with you, but I want to make things clear so they aren’t awkward later, I want to really get to know you first and I don’t want a physical relationship yet, so there will be no kissing at the end of this.” Remember to be clear and direct and talk above their noise. My best advise is to keep the guys that you like in your friend zone, date from your friend zone and when you commit to a long relationship, choose your best friend.
If anyone ever disrespects your boundaries, then they are not worth being with. If anyone ever tries to manipulate you into changing your boundaries, by calling you ‘cold’ or ‘an ice queen’ or anything else that is meant to make you feel bad for withholding what is only yours to give away, then… do you know how to punch someone?
[short demonstration on how to punch… lock your wrist, hold your fist tight, don’t aim for your target, aim for behind your target or you will let up when you connect and it will hurt your hand more.]
[short discussion on how to dispose of a body]
X: “Ha. Yea, well wont I get a bad reputation if I do something like that?”
No, you won’t. Actually it will be just the opposite. When you treat yourself like you are valuable and will not be taken for so low a price, then people of greater character and greater value will also see you as more valuable. Xandra, this is why it is so important for you to know how much you are worth. You are worth a lot. You are a 10. You are a world changer. You are amazing. You deserve the best. And when the offer you are presented with is anything less than what you deserve, then say “No”. And if anyone ever disrespects your “No”… [dad gets a strange, far off, almost sinister look] Tell me… right away… and they will never disrespect anyone’s “No” ever again.
X: “Ok, your face looks a little freaky, but I believe you… What would you do; kill them?”
Xandra, you are worth a lot… even a little jail time 😉