One of my most popular presentations is on the hot topic of teen dating. In a recent presentation, I asked a group of freshman and sophomore girls to write anonymous questions related to dating and relationships. Their questions provide insights into the situations and struggles they have in this area of life. My responses are intended for teens but can also be used as a guide for parents who want to support their daughters through the complicated and emotional world of dating and relationships.
- How do you deal with someone who pressures you?
Whenever you start a relationship, it is essential to clarify your boundaries. Decide what you are going to say “yes” to and what you are going to say “no” to. Your boundaries are informed by your values and what you want and need in a relationship. When you start dating someone, communicate your boundaries, and talk about values and expectations. This will help get the two of you on the same page and minimize the likelihood of being pressured.
If you find yourself in a situation with a person who is pressuring you, step into your power and say no with confidence and self-assurance, or find a way out of the situation. Call a friend or a parent or walk away.
Bottom line: Make your boundaries clear and know when and how to say no.
- What is the best way to reject someone?
It’s hard to let someone down. As a caring, kind person, you don’t want to hurt another person by saying you don’t share the same feelings or want the same things. But if you don’t speak your truth, you end up staying in a situation that is not right for you. When it comes to rejecting someone, remember you are responsible for yourself, so you need to express your truth. You can’t expect another person will read your cues or know what you are thinking. You also can’t be responsible for how they will react to you. You can be gentle and compassionate, while also being clear and direct. After that, it’s the other person’s responsibility to deal with his/her feelings.
Bottom line: The best way to reject someone is through thoughtful, compassionate, and direct communication.
- What if you are scared to say “no?” What if saying “no” will cause you to lose friends?
The fear of the consequences of saying “no” is usually more imagined than real. Fear is a powerful emotion but it’s not always a reflection of the truth. Ask yourself, is there really something to fear? When you dig into the fear, you will probably find one or two things: (1) What you are afraid of is unlikely to happen or (2) You can handle whatever it is that you are afraid of. For example, if you are afraid to say no because people will judge or reject you, ask yourself, would your true, good friends do that to you, or would they respect you for saying no, and maybe even admire your courage and strength? If they reject you, then what? You would probably feel stressed or upset and then you would figure out how to talk with them, or you would move on.
Also, consider what happens if you don’t say no. Will that put you in a better situation? Probably not. If you want to say no, it’s for a good reason, and that is more important than anything else.
Bottom line: Dispell fear of saying “no” by focusing on the truth. Then, tap into your courage and say “no” when you mean “no.”
Next week, I’ll answer more teen dating questions related to falling in love, dealing with being caught in the middle, and making decisions.