The SOVA Project is happy to feature this blog post written by one in our team of fantastic SOVA Ambassadors—these are young people who help create meaningful blog posts from adolescents’ perspectives. We hope you can use their post to start a conversation with your adolescent.
Maybe this is just my family, but I come from a very traditional Italian/Greek household where my life is literally a spitting image of the family from My Big Fat Greek Wedding (no, seriously…). Despite my very young age, my different family members are CONSTANTLY asking me questions regarding my love life, and it is exhausting. Between my grandma asking me when I will meet a boy, to my mom asking if I have gone out on any dates yet, and even my sister asking why I don’t share information about my dating history and experiences!
To add to my situation, I have gone out on dates in the past, but never been in a relationship with anyone – I also do not tell my family of any dates or people I talk to in a romantic sense due to how they are crazy about wanting me married! This is honestly a lot of stress and pressure on me to begin with between seeing constant reminders of my peers, family, and friends in happy long-term relationships, let alone comparing to them my very, very, single, non-existent, love life.
The dating stigma is a real thing that many individuals will potentially face, and some of us may already be experiencing this! At least for me, it affects me mentally in the sense of added stress, feeling lonely, and all across the board lowered self-esteem.
Although, I’m here to say that we should not have these thoughts about ourselves! I’m here to tell you a few ways that we can conquer this annoying, added relationship stress that family, or even friends are inciting on us (that we frankly do not need).
Part of my new year goals was to become more unapologetic in the sense of living my truest life, along with another goal of actively dating (or at least trying). In part, I decided to open up to my family and friends about both.
1. Be Open and Honest
I sat my parents and sister down, and openly forked over all the details I have been hiding over the years about how I was, “in fact” dating, or have been on dates in order to bring truth to their rude assumptions on me. I opened up and really dug deep into how I feel when they talk about relationships and dating in front of me, set boundaries in terms of “when to meet the date to bring home to the family to meet”, and even qualities I value in a partner. This felt like a huge weight off my shoulder, and felt honestly, so good to just tell them about how I am dating or at least trying to actively date people in an attempt to find love, or even form some relationship.
2. Put Yourself Out There
This can be interpreted in the sense of putting yourself out there with your family, or even with potential people you will meet and date along the way. I have to be honest – I am a self sabotager when it comes to finding love. I have such high ideals and viewpoints of myself, that even the smallest deal breaker or fault in someone makes me shy away from even the chance of going out! Part of trying to date is the fact that maybe it is my fault due to self-sabotaging, so I’m trying to make more of an effort to put all of myself out on the line, along with letting the other person put them out there for me to learn more about. I likewise made a little rule for myself to have a “three date rule” before I make a decision on whether to continue dating someone I meet. This rule aids in being more open about what I like or do not like, fine tune my preferences, and allows both the individual and myself to not waste a substantial amount of each other’s time.
3. Self Reflection & Understanding
Everyone is ready at different points in life! Despite my current age, I am personally in a place to get married (if the person came along, but as I stated I need to find that person). For others, you may not be ready until years from now, and that is perfectly fine too! You know yourself best, and again you know what you seek in a partner. For me, I took 2020 to better understand myself as an individual along with what I feel are qualities and values that I need out of my potential partner. I’m trying my best to find these qualities, but again being more open to different fish in the sea.
In the end, everyone can, and will eventually find a relationship of some kind! Although, just remember that it is not up to anyone but yourself in terms of when or how this all happens. Be true to yourself, and enjoy the journey.
Does your child ever seem upset when you and/or your family members bring up a specific topic? How would you talk to your child if you think something your family jokes about upsets them?