Our Best Success Pointer, Ever? You Be the Judge.

When I wrote What I Wish I Knew at 18, I had no idea which specific pointer might resonate most with readers. After all, each of my 109 life success pointers had its own reason, place, and value. I’m often asked which is the most important one of all. I have tremendous difficulty answering this question, and I wrote the book!

To my surprise, though, one pointer seems to be resonating most of all, especially with those who are using our student guides with kids. Any guesses? It’s the one called, “Love and friendship take time… and timing.” Surprisingly, it’s having a powerful impact on adults, too!

What’s all the excitement about? In this particular lesson, we encourage young people to be patient in cultivating new friendships. We describe a relationship pyramid with four progressive stages of depth and help kids understand the parameters and privileges that go with each level. The stages, in order, are:

  1. Acquaintance
  2. Prospect (a potential friend, progressing from an acquaintance)
  3. Friend (a “graduate” from the Prospect pool)
  4. VIP (very important person in our life—a select list!)

Those who take a healthy approach to relationship building are selective in determining who stays or moves among these stages. We help readers understand that time, trust, and shared beliefs/values/interests are the defining qualities that determine whether a relationship will graduate, regress, or stay at the same level. For example, you shouldn’t expect—or permit—the same level of intimacy and trust with an “acquaintance” as you would with a “VIP” (e.g., very close friends/family members).  Looking back, my biggest relationship messes were when I made some incorrect “stage assignments.”

Clearly, this isn’t rocket science. However, there seems to be something extra special about this pointer because we receive far more comments on it than any other. Why? In this age of Facebook “friendships” and other social media relationships (Instagram, Snapchat, etc.), intimacy (or false intimacy) can form too quickly and sometimes almost dangerously. The goal with this advice is to frame relationships in a more natural, realistic way, and offer a more mature perspective.

Many young people today are rushing into relationships and behaviors before they’ve been properly qualified (thanks, in no part, to our cultural messages). In their quest to make new friends or fit in, some compromise their values by engaging in behaviors with the two lowest levels that should be reserved for friends or VIPs. It’s happening more frequently among middle schoolers and is especially common on college campuses when students get lonesome and strive to make new friends quickly. In the end, many relationships fall precipitously down the pyramid, often with severe consequences, when regrettable decisions ensue…

It’s not only kids who need this advice, it seems. At a recent educator conference, a parent who had been going through What I Wish I Knew at 18 with her teenage daughter thanked us for this particular lesson.  “That pointer,” she proclaimed, “changed MY life!”

Have YOU been reading What I Wish I Knew at 18 with a young person or going through the Student Guide with teens in your life?  Which pointer has impacted your teen(s) the most?  Which one has impacted YOU the most? We’d love to add to list of “People’s Picks” for Best Success Pointers!

The 3 Best Time-Tested Dating Tips

The 3 Best Time-Tested Dating Tips

Whether you’re a parent of a teen, a teacher, a mentor, or a teen yourself, it’s never a bad time for a refresher course when it comes to dating advice. With today’s media inundating us with unrealistic (and often unhealthy!) expectations of young relationships, it’s important to get a reality check that will stand the test of time.

Here’s some three time-tested relationship tips:

1. While infatuation can occur in a moment (what we usually see in TV and movies), it takes a long time to really get to know someone and truly gauge if he or she is “the one.” That means lots of conversations, experiences, and observation to gauge your compatibility and build trust.  The Hollywood “three days and we’re engaged” routine doesn’t really work in the long term. It takes time for real love to grow! Don’t be afraid to give your relationship that time. If you or that special someone are sensing pressure to rush things, get to the heart of the matter through open conversation and reflection.

2. Real love also takes proper timing. During the adolescent years, people are going through a time of immense self-discovery. This is a crucial phase of life, where you are learning what you’re passionate about, what path you want to take in life, and what truly makes you happy. The “timing” of a committed love relationship isn’t always ideal during this tumultuous and very changeable season of life—for both parties. It may not mean that the relationship is a “not ever” one; it may just be a “not now” one.

3. This one may sound radical but it’s another time-tested piece of wisdom that can serve you well: There may be times in your life where it really doesn’t make sense for you to date at all—and that’s okay. Too often young adults get trapped into the notion that they always need to have a love interest.  No so!  Don’t let your self-worth and significance be tied to whether or not you have a date on Friday night. Don’t hesitate to step off the dating treadmill if you need to or want to … you don’t always have to be actively dating or have a steady boyfriend or girlfriend. You are enough, and you are awesome, just by yourself. Don’t forget that.

Finally, when you do date, always remember the 3Ds…be Deliberate, Discriminating, and Discerning. This will help keep your feet on the ground when your emotions can be up in the clouds.

 

What are your own personal rules or guidelines when it comes to dating (whether it’s for yourself or your kids)? Do you have any other words of wisdom you would like to share? What did you learn from dating in your teen/young adult years? How did it shape you?