This is part two of our “3D Dating” series, a timely topic as we head into Valentine season! We started last week with a look at being DISCRIMINATING. This week we talk about the second quality of a 3D dater -– being DISCERNING…
The teen years are an exciting time of self-discovery and getting to know other people. Teens are developing their own identities and learning about themselves—who they are outside of their parents and family—and are starting to recognize which kinds of friends are their best fit. But, whether they admit it or not, when it comes to relationships (and dating in particular), they still need the input of parents, mentors, and older friends to help them hone a very important quality: discernment.
Will your teen leave home with strong inner radar that will help guide his relationship choices? Have you equipped your young person with the gift of discernment to help her make prudent decisions in her dating life?
It’s worth thinking about, because if parents don’t, others (including our media/entertainment culture) will fill in the gap! Knowing that, here are some helpful topics for you to discuss with your teen to ensure he/she is being a discerning dater:
- Understanding what you each want in a relationship—your goals and expectations and ensuring they’re compatible.
- Recognizing incompatibility of values, interests, and goals as soon as possible and ending it if it’s not a fit. Don’t expect the other will change!
- Ensuring that the timing is right for both of you. There’s no point investing in a new relationship if you don’t want the same thing at the same time.
- Objectively assessing whether you’re feeling “love” or “lust.” Be brutally honest in evaluating your friend in this regard. If it’s lust, it won’t last!
- Avoiding unsafe situations before they happen and never allowing yourself to be coerced into actions that compromise your values, risk getting out of control, or that you’ll later regret.
- Warning them of danger signs—manipulation, put downs, physical or emotional abuse/isolation/control, pressure to drink or have sex, etc.
- Reminding them to stay objective and be willing to opt out if a relationship isn’t working. Sometimes you want to make it work so badly, you overlook serious flaws. Don’t do that.
- Advising them not to trust too soon … don’t put yourself in a vulnerable position with someone you don’t know extremely well and with whom you’ve built a history of confidence. Remember that true love takes time.
Make sure your teens know they can talk to you at any time, without repercussion, especially if they get into a hot spot and need help. Establish a private code they can use to call or text you to let you know they need to be picked up NOW.
Many troubling situations might have been avoided had the parties demonstrated discernment. Help your teen develop it. It’s one of the most important qualities of being a healthy 3D dater!
What ideas and tips do you have for teaching discernment to teens when it comes to dating? Share your suggestions with us; we and our other readers would love to hear from you!
I’m not sure who has more of the above—a teenager getting ready for a date or a parent talking to him (or her) about dating!
No matter from whose angle you look at it, it’s a hot topic.
Whether a young person is in high school, college or already launched into their career, an independent social life can be the best of worlds and the worst of worlds. On one hand, there are so many new people to meet and things to do. On the other hand, it’s a time when many lives get derailed because they can’t handle the responsibility that accompanies this newfound freedom. Unfortunately, the consequences of these mistakes can be far reaching and life altering.
The fact is, even responsible dating comes with its share of challenges. That’s because: 1) many people define their own self-worth based on whether they’re “together” with someone and struggle with loneliness and doubt when unattached, 2) dating is a “trial and error” process with many dead ends or worse, and 3) there are two parties involved, each with their unique needs, goals, feelings, and interests. Two don’t always tango and it takes time to discover that.
So, what’s the best way to navigate this process? Encourage your young adult to try a 3D approach to dating—being: 1) Discriminating, 2) Discerning, and 3) Deliberate.
- Discriminating: In order for your dating to have worth and potential, you’ve got to be discriminating (i.e. highly selective) with your choices. The problem is, many people define their self-worth by whether they’re “with” someone, so they date for dating’s sake, often compromising their values along the way. The results are never pretty. Being a discriminating dater means:
- Knowing the qualities you admire and that attract you to another person; these are the characteristics that are right for you.
- If you don’t see a fit, moving on. Never waste your time on those you know are dead ends. It’s not only good for you, but it’s also the right thing for them.
- Above all, focusing on values and your ability to become best friends. Do everything in your power to emphasize the non-physical over the physical when you’re assessing your compatibility. Think BFF: Best friends first! Remember, love can be blind…at the worst of times!
I hope you’ll share these principles with a young adult in your life. Be sure to check back for my next blog in this series, where you’ll learn the second step in the 3D dating process—being DISCERNING…
What are ways you’ve found to help young adults develop discernment in their dating choices? Please share your ideas and experiences with us; this is a hot topic and we’d love to hear your input!
It goes without saying that love and a lasting marriage are two of the most amazing gifts life can bring. Finding that special someone you love, trust, enjoy, and with whom you want to spend your entire life is a wonderful experience, something most people hope for.
However, despite best efforts, many marriages eventually fail. The reasons are varied, but an often-preventable one is that they didn’t fully examine their compatibility (or lack thereof!) before tying the knot.
How can you determine if someone is right for you?
Frankly, it’s hard to think objectively when we’re smitten. We often dismiss cautionary words from parents and friends, even if they have our best interests at heart. Unfortunately, by doing so, many people enter love relationships for the wrong reasons with the wrong person or at the wrong time. Inevitably, those kinds of relationships end painfully.
Because of the joy that comes from a successful love relationship and the painful consequences of a failed one, it’s essential to know what you’re getting into before committing yourself to another person. Marriage is arguably the most important human relationship you’ll ever have, and ought to be treated carefully, cautiously, and respectfully. This means everything from understanding what love really means, gauging compatibility, ensuring that goals are in sync, respecting each other’s individual life while enjoying a strong relationship, and understanding the investment required for a successful partnership.
If you’re single, before even thinking of getting married, note the qualities that are really important to you in a partner—the deal breakers. That way, when that (potentially) special someone comes along, you can put him or her to the test and see if it survives.
What key areas ought to be evaluated for compatibility if your goal is a forever marriage? Try these ones for starters:
- Goals and dreams—near and long-term
- Values and character qualities such as integrity, respect, trust, empathy, commitment, and unselfishness
- Commitment to the partnership first, while also respecting individual needs
- Ability to satisfy emotional needs
- Spiritual life and religious affiliation
- Quality of communication
- Interests and activities
- Children—how many and when
- Finances—spending authority, risk appetite, and living within means
- Work situation for each spouse after you start a family
- Responsibility for household operations, meals, housework, etc.
- Living location
- Physical/intimacy desires
- Listening skills, temperament, and willingness to work together to solve problems
- Ability to handle constructive criticism and respect differences of opinion
- Personal motivation and commitment to excellence
- Personal vices and any dependencies
- Family history/relationship quality
Evaluations like these will take time, but isn’t your eventual marriage (and lifelong happiness) worth it? If the results of your investigation aren’t to your liking, it’s certainly better to know sooner rather than later. If you’re really serious about having a forever marriage, it pays to objectively evaluate your compatibility beforehand. If it’s meant to be, you’ll know it.
How important do you think compatibility is in a relationship? What are some ways you’ve discovered to determine if another person is right for you? Have you shared these thoughts with the young people or students in your life? Please share your insights and experiences with us; we’d love to hear from you!
It’s unfortunate the English language has only one word for love. We can say we love our friends, family, and spouse—and we can also say we “love” chocolate, our dog, and our favorite TV show!
It’s also unfortunate that the media and other cultural drivers constantly send distorted messages to young people about what love is. Sadly, too many believe those messages and end up making terrible life decisions and bearing deep emotional scars as a result.
I believe it’s our responsibility as parents and educators to do what we can to instill a healthy understanding of what true “love” really looks like. My definition would include:
- enduring emotional regard for another
- steadfast loyalty
- strong affection arising out of kinship or personal ties
- admiration, benevolence, or common interests
- unselfish loyalty and genuine concern for the good of another
- putting another’s interests ahead of your own
Many times people will say they’re in love when, really, they are in “lust.” Some definitions to describe “lust” might include:
- passionate or overwhelming physical desire
- craving another
- intense, impatient, or unbridled sexual desire or appetite
- pursuit of fulfilling one’s own satisfaction/needs/wants
For young people, knowing what true love really is can be confusing—and intimidating. Sometimes they think when they feel attraction that it is love. But at this point it might more accurately be called infatuation or, if it’s especially intense, lust. Love involves much more than a physical attraction—although that’s certainly part of it.
Especially for people who may be experiencing attraction, infatuation, and “love” for the first time, it can be hard to tell the difference. Remind them, real love takes time and timing and a healthy relationship will go through a natural progression of growth stages.
Encourage the young adults in your life—whether your own kids, students you teach, or teens you mentor—to stand firm and not be fooled. Regardless of what they see on TV or hear on the radio, love isn’t just a bundle of intense feelings, emotion, and attraction. It’s all of the deeper elements mentioned above. They need to learn to know the difference. Their most important love relationship depends on it!
How have you encouraged the young people in your life to think about their most important love relationship, either now or in the future? Can they see the importance of making sure it’s built on the right foundation? Share your comments on our website; we’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!