Thursday, April 28, 2011

My View on…pursuing a relationship in teenage years

It has been a long time since I last blogged with topic of ‘My View on…’ which is a way that I wanna share my view on a certain topic that perhaps my son will read it someday…

My son is still a toddler; he is cute and adorable at this age. Soon, he will grow, learn and mature. That’s a natural development for a young boy. I think I’m a quite liberal parent and would not intervene too much on his love life. So far, I think my son has about average intelligence. So, I think I would just tell him something that a normal person can understand, I won’t dumb him down or making ‘Zen’ like statements that he has to ‘guess’ what I wanna say. I think I would respect his privacy and intelligence. If he wanna fall in love during his teenage years, I don’t think I can stop him from doing that. Cuz, he has his own mind and ultimately walks his own path.

Instead, I think I would like to lay out the pros and cons of having a girlfriend as well as the roles and responsibility of being a boyfriend for his reference. Yes, time changes and so does social culture. It is like a swinging pendulum, in future, people can be more open/conservative than we are. Technology advancement is a double-edged sword that affects relationship. Interpersonal relationship and privacy in the pre-mobile phone/facebook days are just not the same. Nevertheless, there are still values, protocols, and things about relationship that are not gonna change much (at least I guess) when my son is old enough to have desire in starting a relationship.

In terms of having a girlfriend during his teenage years, I would tell him something like these:
Life is full of choices, and you need to make decisions at some points. The earlier you spend time to analyze what’s good for you, the better. Otherwise, if you just procrastinate your decision, you may lose the best opportunity to make good decision. On the contrary, you may be rushed to make subpar decision, or simply have the decision made by someone else for you. So, it is better to think EARLY.

We all have 24 hours a day. There are responsibilities that have to be fulfilled. So, free time is limited. In terms of optional activities, you can only do ‘some’ but not ‘all’. Therefore, you need to make decision wisely. Being in school, learn as much as you can, be a decent student is something your parents would like you to do at your age. Yes, there are exceptions in the world that some people at your age are selecting different paths and some of them end up doing really remarkable. However, many of them failed as well. Staying in school, be a good student, doesn’t guarantee success down the road. However, it is a relatively ‘easy’ and ‘straightforward’ path for ‘most’ young people of your age. Unfortunately, to be a successful person by going ‘alternative’ paths would take double if not more effort in this society under the current social structure. So, when I say ‘effort’ here, that certainly includes ‘Time’. So, going back to what I said before, there is only so much time you have in day for you to allocate, so there is only so much you can do.

In terms of time allocation, there are generally two strategies. One is to do few things, but go deep into those things. For instance, you can be a very good student at school, and a very good pianist by intensive practice. The other is to do a lot of things, but don’t (because you can’t) go deep into most of them. Namely, you are a below average student, spending time playing soccer, going movies, playing video games, go window shopping, taking pictures, reading comic books, novels, etc. Certainly, there can be combinations of both, like being a good student, and have few hobbies but not being good in any of those. These are decisions that you can make. Pursuing a love relationship is different, it is an activity that would heavily depends on another person that you will NOT be able to make all decisions or arrangement that you want the most.

Having a dream girl as your girlfriend can be tempting and enjoyable. It is one activity that you can’t be in control of most situations. You will be happy when things are working out or favorable if your desire comes true. But, believe me; she has her own mind and desire as well. She has no responsibility or whatsoever to obey you or listen to you. When that happen, i.e. conflict of interest, you will feel sad. Relationship development takes a lot of time and effort. I’m not even talking about money which will be an issue for you. You will have some pocket money to spend, but believe me, it is limited! Learning how to allocate your limited resource is critical in your life development. Unfortunately, resource here is not just about money, it includes time and energy as well. Just say, you need to really think about what is best for you.

You need companionship. Yes, your parents love you, but you do need friends. Learning how to get along with other people is important. Certainly, you need to select who you should spend time with. I’m not saying that you should only pick friends with hidden purpose in mind, and put off others who are without value even if they are nice to you. Nevertheless, it would be very natural that you will bond with someone who can share your interests and thoughts, and will not be close to someone who has nothing in common with you. Regardless, there are protocols, customs and responsibilities to be a good friend of others. However, that set of protocols, customs and responsibilities for being a boyfriend can be very different.

Regarding friendship, there are gives and takes, for the most part, it would be more or less 50-50 overall. For a love relationship, 50-50 would NEVER happen. I think you can imagine what the ‘gives’ are in setting up a love relationship. But, remember, it is not just the setup part; there is also the maintenance part that is by no mean easy at all.

Well, here we go the ‘takes’ in a love relationship. If you simply want to have a companion in activities and to share thoughts, friends or good friends would be enough. There must be different goals for pursuing a girlfriend.

On the emotion side, you want to love and be loved. That’s something good and admirable. On the physical side, having close body contact to certain extent is definitely the dream of most boys. I don’t think I would need to go deep in this topic. However, just remember few things. (i) If you love someone, respect her, even if her decision doesn’t match your desire. (ii) Sex is natural, but it has its natural function. The reason why sex can be enjoyable is because the natural result can be painful. There are consequences to unprotected sex – pregnancy, diseases, etc. You may think you are lucky this time, but DON’T count on it. The downside would be very very severe. Cuz, you are lucky once, doesn’t make you lucky next time or thereafter. Also, don’t forget there are additional ups and downs in emotion that are sex-related in a relationship as well. For example, how to convince your girlfriend to have physical relationship with you, to what degree? the location? the timing? the precaution? How to keep a secret from others, like her parents, your mom, perhaps me? How do you know if she would not exploit sex as a leverage to get something from you? How to deal with the confusion afterwards? Believe me, things will turn out not what you have imagined beforehand. Should there be next time? What is the goal of your relationship? If you put having sex as the goal of the relationship which is wrong, then what’s next? If your answers to most of the questions above is ‘I don’t know!’ or you have never thought about any of these, then you perhaps are NOT ‘ready’ to go far in that direction, continue to hold hands then.

Diving in a love relationship is actually very complicated. Yes, things can be learned and one of the best ways to learn is to experience it. But, it is always advisable to learn something when you are ready. It is like jumping off a plane alone. You need to have a trained body, thorough knowledge of the parachute and jumping technique, where to jump, how high to jump, how high to pull the string to open the parachute, how to land, how to take off the parachute. You need to check your gear beforehand, any broken strings or holes? Have a knife with you? Goggles fits? Functional Walkie talkie? GPS? Etc. Maybe my analogy is bit too much, but I hope you see my point.

Well, I hope what I said wouldn’t be too overwhelming, but that’s my view, hope my son would be able to understand, and it would be up to him to make the best decision he can.

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