Dating Smarts for Parents – How to Talk with Your Teen about Crushes and Love vs Lust.
Help them know the difference!
Your teen is probably dying to know about the difference between a crush and being in love. Here’s how to talk with your teen about crushes, love, and lust.
Is It Lust?
It’s important for your teen to know that sexual desire (lust) is part of our wiring to want to reproduce, but in the teen years, desire doesn’t line up with being emotionally ready to become a parent. Guys are at their “sexual peak” in their teens, while girls hit their peak in their 30’s. This is why a teen girl’s desire may not be as strong as a guy’s. Talk about this with your teen, as well as things they can do by themselves to release this energy, such as masturbate, exercise, meditate, pray, be creative, read, or write.
Is It Love?
Discuss with your teen that they will know when they are falling in love because they and their partner will share the same feelings of a deep emotional connection, feeling confident, and a kind of “high.” There should be very few negative feelings. Continue talking with your teen about how, as their relationship deepens, those amazing “in love” feelings can fade and become less wild and crazy, but also deeper, more enduring. Their feelings can die as well, and sadly this will happen with many of their relationships. Describe that it can be sudden or gradual, but the experience of your first love being your one and only love is rare.
Sample Script for “Sexual Communication”
Remind them that it’s easy to go farther physically, the more you get to know someone – prepare your teen for doing this on their own terms. Tell them it is very important that before they are in the heat of the moment, to communicate about their limits, birth control, sexual history, and condom use with their partner. If they can’t do this, it means they aren’t ready. An example is: “I wanted to check with you about something. I am having a great time with you and before we go any further physically, I wanted to talk about my rules about…”
- oral sex.
- sexual intercourse.
“I want to wait until . . . ”
- we’ve been dating one year.
- I’m in college.
Then ask their partner, “Are you going to be okay with this?” Emphasize that it is up to them to stick to their limits and tell them to be aware of how far things are going once their hormones are enjoying a make out session. Your teen can use this conversation as a test to see just how committed their partner is. Your teen’s intuition will help them, encourage them to pay attention to it.
The truth is crushing, falling in love, being in love, or merely being “in lust” can all be really confusing for everyone. Talking about this with your teen can help them advance on their own timeline.