(by Dawson McAllister)
Wonder What Young Adults Wish Their Parents Had Talked About?
A recent report from Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Making Caring Common Project found that 70% of 18-25 year olds reported that they wish their parents had talked about the emotional aspects of romantic relationships. While parents are all concerned about having the “sex” talk with their kids, it seems we are missing the boat when preparing our kids for what it takes to develop healthy, loving, romantic relationships. The report stated that “large numbers of teens and young adults are unprepared for caring, lasting romantic relationships,” and are “anxious about developing them.”
According to the report 18-25 year olds want to know more about “how to have a more mature relationship,” “how to deal with breakups,” and “how to avoid getting hurt in a relationship.”
Talking Points for Adults
The report advises adults to “Talk about love and help teens understand the differences between mature love and other forms of intense attraction.” It’s important to explain the difference between attraction, infatuation and love, to discuss how to know if you’re “in love,” to talk about how love can change from the beginning of a relationship to 30 years down the road, and to look at what determines both healthy and unhealthy relationships?
“This means spelling it out,” said Richard Weissbourd, Harvard educator and director of Making Caring Common. “What does it really mean to be respectful in a relationship? It is about being generous, making sacrifices. Parents need to talk about the things that constitute respect.”
As I read more of the report, it started to make A LOT of sense to me.
THIS is the reason I get SO many calls on my radio show with questions about relationships with the opposite sex. THIS is the reason all the blogs I have written on getting over a broken heart, and love addiction, and how to find meaningful relationships, and how to know if it’s really love, get viewed by thousands of people every month on TheHopeLine.com. No one else is talking to them about it.
I have already addressed the topics of respect in dating relationships and signs of an unhealthy dating relationships on this site because I’ve heard from so many teens and young adults whom I know are desperate for this kind of advice, and I want to do everything I can to equip you to have these conversations with the teens in your life.
We also have free eBooks on the topics of Dating Relationships and Broken Hearts that you may want to share with the young adults in your life. They could serve as great conversation starters.
Another crucial topic that I have written about on TheHopeLine® and would like to pass along here as well is Love vs. Lust. As the Harvard report said, it is important to talk to teens about the difference between love and other forms of intense attraction.
Love vs. Lust
So let’s define the two.
Love is a deep affection for someone that causes you to be willing to put that person before your own desires and needs. To care deeply for their happiness. To be willing to commit to someone. It is the foundation that our families and society are based on.
Lust is just a physical emotion that we act upon when we get caught up in the moment. Lust literally means over-desire. It is when you take something that is good, twist it, and add cravings to it so you are consumed until you are gratified. When we speak of lust as it relates to relationships with the opposite sex, it can be defined this way – when a person’s body is far more important to you than his or her soul
Of course, most of us fall in love with someone we find physically attractive. But there is a distinct difference between lust and love. If that difference is not understood, hurt and confusion can easily be caused when we confuse the two with each other.
Perhaps this chart will help clarify some of the differences between lust and love for those in a dating relationship:
|Is a passionate and deep affection for the other person.||Is an intense craving for sexual desire.|
|Is patient and can wait to give. As someone once said, True love waits.||Can’t wait to get. It is demanding and impulsive like someone screaming in your ear, I want it now!|
|Is a decision we make. It is an act of the will with undying commitment.||Is immersed in emotion and cravings that refuse to make a commitment that will last.|
|Wants the best for the other person.||Wants to be with someone only for what they can offer you.|
|Doesn’t expect anything. Is unconditional.||Is conditional and will only survive if it gets what it wants.|
|Learns to trust.||Is jealous and suspicious.|
|Gives freedom to the other.||Seeks to control and manipulate.|
|Does not get angry easily.||Quickly turns to rage and attacks.|
|Always protects.||Takes to tear down and destroy.|
|Never rude but treats the other with immense respect.||Shows no respect and is cruel.|
|Is always kind looking for ways to show the other its true self.||Is always trying to hide its true nature by deceiving and manipulating.|
Hopefully sharing these differences with teens who are starting to date will protect them from becoming an object of lust OR from treating someone else with lust-filled motivations.
Why Some Choose Lust
Unfortunately, sometimes, we recognize lust for what it is and still choose to follow it blindly. Somehow, we hope lust will bring us to a happy ending.
Read this comment that Dara sent me, I hate being alone and find lust more easily then love. Lust does hurt, each and every time. I know what the outcome will be and [yet] I still touch the hot stove with my bare hand. Maybe for girls, all women, all ages that are dealing with and understanding what I’m saying I leave you with this one thought…… We have to LUST TO FIND LOVE, the world is cold and when we find something warm it feels so good so we lust. Lust to me is what you have to go through to find your love, the world isn’t a perfect place.
Sadly, Dara is very misguided. Her words were honest, straight forward, and cold as ice. That’s what lust will do to you turn you into someone as cold as ice. Problem is lust doesn’t lead to love. It can’t. It does not know how. Lust will never change. It will always be what it is.
Sarah wrote to me and said, “I dated guy after guy who would only tell me that they loved me when we were being physical. That was when they loved me. The rest of the time I was an object of abuse and rejection. Sarah recognizes she was only desired for the physical part of the relationship, but she still stated, “They loved me when we were being physical.” She should have said, “They loved themselves when we were being physical and I was the object of their gratification.” Lust is always ugly because it is self-indulgent.
The good news is love never changes either. Love wants to lead us to the right path where there is happiness, hope, and a deep sense of self-respect. Love always gives because God is love. The choice to walk down the road of love or lust is up to each individual. What they decide will dictate what their lives will become.
Let us train young adults on the qualities of love so they will choose love and know how to love.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14)
May we be honest with our children that relationships take work. It will not always be easy to love as the Bible instructs us. But when Christ is the foundation of any relationship, when we turn to God in prayer, when we know Him through reading his word, when we strive to love as He loved and forgive as He forgave, the benefits will be great!
Full Harvard Report – The Talk