I’m a 14-year-old girl, and I’ve just started into the world of hanging out with guys. I see a lot of boy drama with my friends. What advice would you give me on how to get with someone who isn’t going to cheat on me or treat me badly, and who really will be interested in more than my body.
Wes: Once again, the selection of the new “Double Take” co-author has been an extraordinary experience. All five of the completed applications were very competitive, and any of these young people would make a great columnist. Unfortunately, a choice must be made and this year that choice was especially difficult. In fact, I had to bring in additional qualified raters to make a final determination between the winner and the runner-up. That we can do this contest in Lawrence year after year with this result reminds us of the real talent we have in this community. Just one more reason it’s great to live here.
New for 2009, this year’s applicants had to write a second essay at my office on a topic not revealed to them until that morning. This simulates the real-world experience of how “Double Take” works and every applicant rose to meet this unexpected challenge. In fact, readers will get to see the winner’s answer to that essay in a regular column in early September.
These extemporaneous essays were given the highest numerical weight, followed in descending order by the submission essays, the interviews, and the letters of recommendation. My thanks to Marissa Ballard and Kelly Kelin for their help in rating the essays.
Lucy Daldorph of Lawrence High School was this year’s runner-up in the tightest contest to date. If for any reason the winner cannot complete their term, Lucy will receive the position and the scholarship. Both of Lucy’s essays were exceptional, her interview was excellent, and her ideas for keeping the column fresh were numerous and terrific. Her essay submission appears online along with this week’s column at LJWorld.com.
LHS also provided three more applicants this year, and one of them was our winner. Samantha Schwartz a rising senior. She will begin her term as “Double Take” co-author in late August 2009.
In response to the challenge question, Samantha wrote:
By acknowledging the fact that you want someone who treats you well, you have already taken a step to finding the right guy — you know you deserve someone who respects you both emotionally and physically.
However, I recommend you take a step further and look more deeply into what you want in a boyfriend.
When I was 14, I made what has been dubbed by my family as “The List.” I listed qualities I was looking for. Driven, zest for life, can make me smile and good relationship with family are just four of the 40 things I listed. Though it may seem like overkill, it really helped me decide exactly what I was looking for.
Whether you have a running list in your head, scribbled on a napkin or saved to your computer, this list will make you think about your ideal guy.
Once you have found someone who seems to meet most of the criteria on your list, you will have to play like the Crocodile Hunter and observe him in his natural habitat. Though the guy you like may be perfect when the two of you are alone, the way he behaves with his friends and family is more important in these beginning stages.
In addition, be prepared to look for these red lights.
A) He lies to his parents. If he would lie to them, he might lie to you someday.
B) He keeps constant tabs on you. This boy is like a peanut M&M;: sweet on the outside, nutty on the inside. Though the constant attention may seem puppy-dog cute at first, it could be the sign of an unhealthy relationship.
C) He talks about his friends behind their backs. Though confiding in you about his friendship problems will make you feel special and needed, all his secrets are a breeding ground for drama.
D) He is overly friendly to your friends. If he has all your friends’ numbers in his phone a few minutes into meeting them, watch out. Like the weather in Kansas, this guy’s mind is subject to change.
You probably will not find your perfect guy on the first try. It is OK to take chances and discover qualities you find attractive and unattractive. Just make sure you look for warning signs of an unhealthy relationship and leave him as soon as you feel uncomfortable. Stay true to your standards, and nice guys will flock to you.
Wes: As one who works a lot with teenagers on healthy dating tactics, I found Samantha’s essay spot on, as did our other raters. The style was engaging, and her wry humor poked a little fun at the dating process without detracting from the serious points of the topic. Personal disclosure is tricky, and hers felt genuine and funny at the same time. Most importantly she gave good advice that a teenager could put to use this week. Her interview was college-level. Her ideas for “Double Take” were innovative and will certainly guide the column in the months to come.
I look forward to working with Samantha and welcome her to “Double Take.”
Next week: Computers and video games.
— Dr. Wes Crenshaw is a board-certified family psychologist and director of the Family Therapy Institute Midwest. Kelly Kelin is a senior at Free State High School. Opinions and advice given here are not meant as a substitute for psychological evaluation or therapy services. Send your questions about adolescent issues (limited to 200 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org. All correspondence is strictly confidential.