Our first romantic relationship is something we think about when we're young, when we're little girls, and even though our parents would say that relationships start at 35. They say this because they know with all their hearts that we're precious and delicate and don’t want to see us get hurt. They're not wrong, as we are born this way, precious and delicate, however I've never known someone to be more trusting than when they were a child.
For me it’s because I trusted in the love that I felt.
Today as a teenager we witness the distrust in our peer groups and the fear of being vulnerable within them. Many adolescents are like water when it comes to relationships, they re-shape and change direction often, especially when it comes to their intentions and commitments.
In my experience, young people who feel they are being used in their relationship often then become the user themselves and this can continue to be a volatile cycle. At one time, it could be said that you ‘fall in love’, or ‘fall head over heels’, feeling that rush of excitement with someone you now ‘love’. However, what I’ve noticed is that teenagers are either head over heels crazy for someone or unquestionably terrified of being seen for who they are, or worse yet, of not being accepted as they are. Many of the girls I speak with are afraid of being alone.
We learn that conditions are a part of contracts and agreements in the business world. Today, a relationship is similar to a contract in that the other party wants their needs to be met, and if a condition is not met, the individual will consider pulling out from the ‘agreement’. Without the proper foundations, I can imagine that girls will abandon what they feel to be right for themselves to make someone they care about happy.
Girls have grown up to feel that they are not an equal and that the other person is more important – this is the largest misconception that’s been allowed to thrive in schools and throughout the mindsets of young girls.
The first foundation in any relationship is the respect you hold for yourself and one another. When a partner doesn't return that level of care in the relationship, somehow girls will immediately go to thinking that they've done something ‘wrong’, it’s their fault, or they somehow deserve it and more often than not will blame themselves. Furthermore, it is likely that there is little communication between them and their partner, so even if something is wrong rarely will they talk about it.
So, what’s important here?
Is it to please others?
To look outside ourselves for something that is going to make us ‘complete’ or ‘happy’?
When all of our focus is going outwards we forget what's truly important – to value ourselves, and without realising it we begin to leave ourselves behind.
Maybe once all the noise of being with others subsides, the silence is what we are left with and instead of allowing that time to build a more solid connection with ourselves, often we attempt to fill in the silence with more noise like music, video games or TV.
Some will even try to drown out the silence with drugs so they don’t have to feel how sensitive they really are. BUT is silence a moment of opportunity? I’m beginning to think there is something to that old saying… “Silence is Golden”.
Silence (or those quiet moments with yourself) is not the enemy – it is a moment we can take as teenagers to feel what is the right choice for us and take those next steps with more honesty and clarity; because, potentially, from that honesty we can be more real in supporting ourselves to make better choices.
The very definition of a relationship is the way in which we connect with each other. However, you cannot have a healthy connection with another if you don’t have one with yourself first. So, how you treat yourself when with your partner and how you think about yourself in those quieter moments without your partner are crucial steps to building healthy relationships.
I believe we are always teaching others how to treat us by the way we treat ourselves. If we don’t have respect or value ourselves neither will they.
I’ve now understood that taking the time to feel what’s right for me in any given situation is important, and that expressing both the good times and the things that don’t feel quite right is important in my development to building a more solid connection with myself and others.