Being an adolescent can be tough. During this time you are learning things about yourself and your relationships every day. The relationship with your parents, your friends and your boyfriend or girlfriend are influential to the person you will become. Here at Compass we like to focus on positive and healthy relationships. Here are some links to help you find and keep the healthy relationships in your life. What you learn now, about how to treat others and how you deserve to be treated, will affect your relationships throughout your lifetime.
Is your relationship safe?
Most young people want to be in a relationship. Well, they are in lots of relationships, of course, but we mean that “special” relationship that involves love and romance with that one person that stands out from all the rest. But sometimes the desire to be someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend can result in our rushing into a situation that seems good but may have some attributes that are harmful or even dangerous. Have you ever known someone who was dating a guy or girl that was a real jerk? You find yourself asking, “What does he see in her?” or “doesn’t she know what he’s really like?” Be careful that you’re not getting into that kind of relationship. A healthy relationship is one that includes mutual respect, kindness, consideration, and gentleness. Any form of coercion, abuse, threats or controlling behavior should be like a huge red warning light flashing.
In our workshop, “How To Avoid Falling For A Jerk (or Jerkette)” we talk about what it takes to really get to know the person you’re dating, and how to balance the various aspects of the relationship as it develops, so that you avoid the “love is blind” syndrome. Here’s a quick rule of thumb: consider the first 90 days of any relationship as a “probationary” period. Don’t make any commitment during that time, and avoid getting too physical. Then, count on at least two years to really get to know your partner. That’s how long it takes, according to the researchers, for a person to start showing you their “real” self. Up until then, it’s possible to be on one’s “best behavior” or even wear a mask. Check out some of the web links below to get more information on what a good, healthy relationship looks like.
Take it slow… If he (or she) really is “The One” for you, there is absolutely no need to be in a hurry. Get to know each other well, in a variety of situations, before pledging undying love to each other. Relationships that begin with a foundation of friendship are usually much more stable in the long run than those that “rush to euphoria,” only to later crash and burn. The wisdom of this type of approach was highlighted in an article published in the L.A. Times on December 16th, 2002 entitled “The Brain in Love”. The article discussed a long-term study being conducted by the University of Texas in Austin which “identified three paths through early courtship: fast and passionate, slow and rocky, and in-between. The fast-track groups, about 25% of the total, usually were interdependent within weeks, tended to ignore or forget their initial problems and were committed to marriage within several months. By contrast, the slow-motion group took an average of two years to reach a commitment, spending up to six painstaking months in each stage. Yet when it came to success at the 13-year mark, the tortoises won out.” According to Ted Huston, the study’s lead investigator, “The more boring and deliberate the courtship, the better the prospects for a long marriage… People who had very intense, Hollywood-type romances at the beginning were likely to have a big drop-off later on, and this often changed their view of the other’s character”. So, slow and steady wins the race. Check out our program for making good decisions and how to find safe people to date: “Within My Reach.”
Don’t be in a rush to get married.
The average age of a person in America when they get married is now about 26 years old. And getting married in your twenties or thirties gives you a much greater chance that your marriage will go the distance. In contrast, getting married before age 20 makes divorce four times as likely compared to a couple that waits until they are at least 20 years old. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 59% of first marriages between couples who are18 years of age or younger end in divorce within the first fifteen years while only 35% of those between couples who get married at the age of 25 or older end in a divorce within that same time period. Wow! What a difference a few years makes!
Some thoughts about cohabitation (living together without being married)…
Have you ever heard someone say that they were going to move in with their boyfriend or girlfriend as a “trial marriage”? Guess what – it doesn’t work! Recent research by the University of Wisconsin indicates that 40% of cohabitants break up before getting married. And those who do end up marrying each other after living together experience a 50% higher divorce rate than couples who had not lived together. So instead of experiencing a 50% divorce rate, these couples experience a 75% divorce rate. Overall, therefore, what we find is that only 15% of couples who live together before getting married end up in a lasting marriage. OUCH! Okay, let’s go through those numbers again, more slowly. Let’s say we start with 100 unmarried couples who decide to live together. We can expect that 40 of those will break up instead of getting married; that leaves 60 couples who end up getting married. But 45 of those couples (75%) will end up divorcing – leaving only 15 of our original 100 couples in a lasting marriage. Conclusion: if you want to increase your odds of being in a lasting relationship, do NOT cohabitate; it just doesn’t work.