The toughest topic for one teenager to discuss with another of the opposite sex is to address is the topic of “sex.” Whether a Christian, Jew, Black, Asian, whatever, this topic is difficult to address openly and honestly. And the scenario illustrated here is so typical. The boy “wants it.” The girl thinks that she shouldn’t. Yet their hormones are raging—and it feels good to both.
Where to go from here is often governed by the actions of the male often ending in a big manipulation effort to get her to “put out.” And the girl may feel confused because her mind tells her one thing and her body screams something else. The result is often disaster and disappointment; especially when it comes to teens between the ages of 15 and 18.
When I was growing up, having sex before marriage was frowned upon in the small community where I was raised. These days, how to handle sex is often ambiguous at best. But the guilt and fear of pregnancy is the worst—especially for the girl. But, is there a better way? Even as an ordained minister and a student of effective communication, I am often at a loss with an answer for either side. But, I have developed a few communication tips that might help.
First, never discuss an issue in the middle of “making out.” The girl in the clip decided to talk about this at an inopportune moment for the guy. In the throes of rising testosterone levels, the last thing he wants to do is to have a conversation. The appropriate time to discuss this or any other important issue is in a less stressful environment, perhaps with an intermediary present to help (referee?).
In this situation, the typical “American” male teenager is rarely in the mood to talk about sex from a rational and logical standpoint. He would rather be yucking it up with a group of guys as they each try to “one up” each other on their stories of sexual encounters (often fictitious). Most teens are uncomfortable talking about this: the film clip clearly shows the embarrassment in each of them.Having a third person there keeps the conversation on target for both.
Second, talk about it openly and honestlyEach person should thoughtfully express themselves through opinions, goals, and aspirations to the other party without embarrassment and silliness. Each should be totally honest. Some useful phrases could be: ·“I want to have children, but not right now.” ·“I want us to be happy, but not just for the next five minutes.” ·“I think we should get to know each other as friends first.” ·“I believe we have a future together. But we each have our own dreams right now. Let’s see how those dreams work out then talk about having a family later.”
Let me be the first to admit that very few teenagers would even think about talking this way. They have their own ways of saying things. I accept that. But, the issue is being open and honest. Using “I” messages also helps to keep the focus away from accusations without the manipulation that often occurs when the hormones are strong. Discussing the issue before the “making out” starts allows for rational decisions rather than emotion-laden, rash actions.
Third, respect each other’s opinions American teenagers understand “respect.” However, they rarely understand the chemical changes going on in their bodies. They confuse the way they “feel” with the way things ought to be. Emotions are rarely a good judge for decision making no matter what the age. But for teenagers, that reality is super important.
Teens often have problems with honesty and openness. When confronted with it, their response is either sarcasm, nervous laughter, or other inappropriate behaviors. When a person expresses sarcasm or manipulation rather than honestly, the other person feels discounted. They know they are not being respected.
And that alone should be enough for the need for help with making a good decision. For example, the girl in the clip tries to be open and honest. The response she got was unexpected and yet exactly what she should have expected given the inappropriate nature of her timing. It’s also fascinating to hear her response when her parents drive up. Her vocal expression is a perfect example of the dichotomy of the normal teenager: she “wants to” and at the same time “doesn’t want to.” My advice is simple. Be real with yourself and then real with the other person. If you receive ridicule or sarcasm or a put-down, then that should tell you all you need to know about that person you’ve been going with. Perhaps for the sake of your future, it might be wise to reconsider your relationship. Put off concern about “true love” for a year or two when you’re older and in a better position to make a decision that will fit your goals and aspirations.