So this teenage boy breaks up with his girlfriend by text. Chaos ensues. And if you were the adult he told this to, the sarcasmic impulse would be really hard to fight down. Really? She was upset? Who would have guessed? There are a million ways to break up these days. And while you can break up by exercising your thumbs, it doesn’t mean you should.
Kids think that adults are being mean and withholding when they’re told they are too young to be in an exclusive relationship. They have all these emotions, why shouldn’t they be able to use them? The key is that relationships are only 50% about emotions. The other 50% is the social skills it takes to deal with somebody else’s 50% of emotions. You not only need the skills it takes to get a person to be interested in being with you, you have to have the skills to actually be in the relationship and get yourself out of it if you are not meant to be together forever and ever. That’s stuff like being open and honest in expressing yourself, being open and honest when listening to someone else, being able to imagine the thoughts and emotions of another human being without projecting your own thoughts and emotions, having the emotional strength to be able deal with someone when they aren’t at their best, having the emotional strength to be able to apologize when someone else has had to deal with you when you weren’t at your best.
I don’t know many 14-year olds who can come close to doing that. I do know a lot of 40-year olds who can’t come close to a stable relationship. And unfortunately, their mothers can’t tell them that they need to slow down, go on group dates and “not date anyone special for awhile” any more.
So how do they develop those skills if they can’t practice on their beloved? Funnily enough, all of those things are things that they should be doing to one extent or another with people that they don’t hope to be French kissing in the dark with. The things that make you a good son, daughter or friend will make you a good romantic partner. The only difference is that being in a romantic relationship is one of the most intense expressions of “relationship” that any person can have. If you haven’t built the basic social skills, you are sunk. And nobody is fully prepared for their first relationship. But if you want to keep that person in the mood the French kiss you, or make sure that she doesn’t make sure no girl at your school will ever even consider allowing your lips to touch hers, it pays to be as close as you can be.