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Archive for Monday, February 11, 2013

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Double Take: Dating advice for teens

February 11, 2013

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On the air

Join Dr. Wes this Thursday (Valentine’s Day) on Up to Date with Steve Kraske to talk more about successful dating. Tune into 89.3 FM or KCUR.org.

Dr. Wes: I often find at the core of good therapy the issue of how to love and be loved.

So it is with Double Take. Teen and young adult dating is a strong predictor of how kids will couple later in life, so we want to take it seriously.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’ll revisit our best rules for finding love. By the way, you’ll find they apply equally to folks in the over-25 crowd.

  • The purpose of dating is to find out which people you don’t belong with. Love requires a good search, trial and error, and a fair measure of heartbreak.
  • You’re only really ready to date when you don’t need to have a relationship to be happy. Never let yourself stay with anyone you have to be with. Relationships require authentic choice, not dependence.
  • Next year I’m giving away brain-shaped boxes of candy rather than hearts. I want to encourage people to balance all those deep feelings of love with some practical attention to detail. Like can your partner keep a job? How does he or she treat others? Never limit yourself to someone you just love.
  • Most people want to change … but not very much. While couples inevitably alter each other, it’s best to start with as little assembly required as possible.
  • Never date someone you wouldn’t consider marrying. While nobody is ready for marriage at 16 (or 20), thinking this way helps your dating practice stay focused. Alternatively, never date anyone you wouldn’t let your daughter date.
  • Never marry anyone you don’t want to be divorced from. Judge a partner not by how they treat people they like, but by how they treat people with whom they have conflict.
  • Relationships go from where they start. Never ignore red flags at the beginning while everything is flowers and unicorns.
  • All relationships are four-dimensional: As love ages the raw spots start to show. Give it time.
  • The least motivated partner in a couple always has the most power — the power of walking away.
  • Feeling “meant to be together” isn’t important. Meaning to be together is. Monogamy is an unnatural state of affairs, so you have to get up every day and decide to be in a relationship.
  • Adversity is a critical test. Couples aren’t judged by how they do when things are good. They’re judged by how they solve problems.
  • Don’t sleep too many times with someone you don’t want to fall in love with.

Katie: For those of you who, like me, will be spending Valentine’s Day on a one-person study date with a box of chocolates signed “Love, Mom and Dad,” remember that being single is better than being in a bad relationship. Patiently waiting for the right person will make your relationship all the more special when it finally arrives. Then the hard work really begins.

Here are my suggestions for building a healthy relationship:

  • Date someone because you have feelings for him or her, not because you’re in love with the word “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” Teens should enjoy talking with their significant others more than they enjoy talking about them. Dating to change one’s relationship status on Facebook only leads to disappointment.
  • On a related note: Social media has its place in modern society. That place is not on a dinner date. When you’re out on the town, don’t give your Facebook friends and Twitter followers a play-by-play. The most memorable moments in life are those we experience through our five senses. The momentary gratification after earning a “like” or “retweet” doesn’t count as one of the five.
  • When you do find that special someone whose presence trumps all text messages and push notifications, you deserve to dance for joy — but remember to let the buzzing giddiness of a new relationship simmer down before you and your partner make any big decisions. Wes is right — though the heart reigns in romantic territory, the mind’s advice is equally important.
  • Not even the most compatible couples stick together around the clock. A healthy relationship requires some alone time for each partner. You might walk step-for-step down the hallway, but you’re still individuals. You fell in love as two independent spirits, and you can stay in love as long as you keep those kindred spirits kindling.

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