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Teen Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.


I am 18 and I've had 2 boyfriends. I had sex way too fast with both. My problem is taking enough time to assess them before I go to bed with them. I've done a lot of soul searching and I know who I am, but I'm still scared that I'm going to make the same mistakes next time I'm really attracted to a guy. So my question is: what kind of things should I assess? I know that it would be different for every person because we all have our own set of values, but can you give me a list of what you think is very important? Should I look at the things I like about myself and expect that from the opposite sex or do opposites really attract?


At 18 years of age, with all of two boyfriends as experience, it might be a bit premature to be thinking about Mr. Right. At this point in your life you might consider trying to find out what it is you appreciate in different people that you date. Sex has a way of making us feel prematurely intimate with our partners. Perhaps you might want to hold off on having sex until you decide what it is you are looking for in a prospective partner. It is analogous to shopping for your first new car. First you have to decide what type of automobile you want, what you like in car. You shop around, visit many dealerships, learn what features different vehicles have, make a list of the features and body style you are most attracted to, narrow your search, test drive those that make the first cut, and gradually as your experience grows you refine your taste. Then finally you might decide to buy one.

Similarly, dating is like shopping and deciding what you like. What aspects of men do you like and what don't you like. What feels comfortable for you? Which type of man leaves you feeling good about yourself? How does he treat you? Is he understanding, sensitive, caring, affectionate? Do you have similar interests, values, hobbies, tempos (e.g., if you are active and like to dance and he is a couch potato and doesn't know his left foot from his right, you might be in trouble). Is a sense of humor important to you, what about ambition, how does he deal with finances, do you have similar goals and desires? All of these questions are important in deciding on an appropriate mate. Developing a set of criteria takes time and experience. The more research you do, the better your decision will be.


LuAnn Pierce, MSW, CMSW
Author of Growing up Sane (in uncertain times)
Seminar Leader Growing Well Adjusted Kids
Editor-in-Cheif Person to Person: Strengthening Youth & Families
Telephone Counselor Affinity Counseling Center
Affinity Books & Resource Center: Your Source for Emotional Wellness


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