Last week, I talked about how I was looking at porn mostly out of curiosity, and about how that awakened a desire to know how to REALLY treat a woman. Porn wasn’t cutting it, not even close.
Teenager culture is really foreign to me. I was raised in a Christian home and didn’t run into many cute girls at church. I went to a private Christian school where every girl had cooties (plus they were really annoying). And then I endured many years of homeschooling and charter schooling. I didn’t run into many girls until I started actually getting involved in youth group. Looking around me, I noticed most guys had some sort of love interest while the guys I was close with were all single. In that, I still didn’t have much contact with girls.
Since I wasn’t learning how to talk to people through trial and error, I would look at two different things to prepare myself: the people around me, and the media.
The people around me were extremely flirtatious, that was how my youth group was around the time when I first started going. Not many people, as far as I know, were really doing anything all that bad, but there was a lot of physical contact going on. Meaning lots of hugging and cuddling and all that, as well as a good amount of just plain flirting. The guy in a conversation would say something impressive followed by a good joke, then the girl would laugh, and that would keep going until something pulled them apart. Usually that was about the time teens started getting ushered in for youth group itself. During church, there would be even more flirting, only now it was quieter. And instead of hugging, they would just sit super close to each other, then church would end and they would go their separate ways.
As a 7th grader with not very many friends, I was like, “Why would I want that? That’s just so boring. They’re hardly even friends,” and that may have been true. Because relationships with girls seemed dull to me, I decided I was too cool for them and just avoided them and tried to look cool in front of them.
The other thing I observed to learn about relationships with girls was the media, in all it wondrous forms.
Music: I used to listen to the Violent Femmes a lot, because I seemed to identify with their sexual frustrations. They didn’t really sing about love all that much, just about the fact that they were in high school and horny. And I guess I identified with that.
Movies and TV: Okay this one just isn’t fair for teenagers. Relationships just don’t work out this way. Rarely, if not then never at all, has a couple been brought together thanks to a war with robots or an ironic comedic situation. I always hated watching movies because I knew the ridiculous love story would show up about 30 minutes in. I was upset by the fact that the woman always seemed to lead the main character away from his original mission, be it saving the world or going to work. It seems like they meet, a cinematic angle shows that they are into each other, and an hour later in the movie, it’s implied (or graphically revealed) that they had sex. That’s just not fair. No way in hell is a movie going to show how a couple’s relationship built over the course of a two hour film that has a story that spans months. It gives such an unrealistic perspective; granted, TV shows are able to build on the relationship a bit more.
The Office did that so well with Jim and Pam, let me tell you!
Video Games: Anyone who’s read my older stuff knows I’m a gamer. Gamers are, by default, usually perverts. And it makes sense! One of the older Metroid games rewarded truly skilled players with a little pixelated sprite revealing Samus in her underwear! Not until RPGs started getting more mainstream have relationships started to make more sense and be less about the sex, but even then, it is usually Hollywood-ized.
So as time went on and the fear of cooties started fading away from me and my friends, the gap between boy and girl started to close up. So we all started talking to girls, getting to know them, and avoiding them when they were bunched up and crying. I started to treat them like people, because as it turns out, they ARE people! Learning how to treat a girl like a person was as simple as knowing the difference between my expectations thanks to the media or teenagers from a few noticeably flirty encounters. And also, get this, not every girl you talk to has to be someone you have a crush on.
I could assume that most of my confusion surrounding girls was due to the fact that I wasn’t around very many because of homeschooling and the desire to stay away from church. But I found that learning to see girls as people is what truly helped me grow into a guy who can treat a girl just as I would any person, with respect and consideration. And I wouldn’t say there is a “right” or “wrong” way to do it. And now that I’m older, it doesn’t really seem like that big of a deal. Being a teenager just sucks is all.