Facts for Living: Decide, don’t slide!

By Rebecca McFarland
Frontier Extension Agent

As I continue this series on teen relationships, I want to introduce an important concept: “Decide, don’t slide!” Teens and young adults often “slide” into situations instead of making informed decisions about who they are attracted to, what they value, and what they want in a relationship. “Deciding” instead of “sliding” is a low-risk approach to relationships.

When a person takes a high-risk approach – “sliding” – he or she will dramatically increase his or her chances of getting involved with someone who is a poor match. Sliding quickly means getting involved with someone sexually or in a romantic way, before knowing what he or she is really like. The risk or consequences with sliding include:

  • Having very different interests.
  • Finding values and goals aren’t compatible.
  • Realizing that you don’t really like his or her personality.
  • Not having the freedom to get to know someone else.
  • Having poor communication; not able to talk and share freely.
  • Experiencing very little fun.
  • Realizing that it is not the relationship you imagined.

It’s important for teen and young adults to remember that when they are attracted to someone (infatuation), the “love chemicals” saturate their brain and “grease the slide”, making it easy to move too quickly.

The consequences listed above do not usually carry high risk if the couple hasn’t gotten too deeply involved. However, if the couple has gotten too deeply involved, there are more risks, and risks that can affect them the rest of their life. These include:

  • Being lied to, cheated on, feeling used.
  • Discovering you don’t like the way he or she treats you.
  • Being put down; controlled, disrespected.
  • Discovering that he or she has serious problems, such as drugs or alcohol.
  • Getting an sexually transmitted disease.
  • Getting pregnant or getting someone pregnant.
  • Having a baby.
  • Being on your own to raise a child.

The low-risk or “deciding” approach is a different way to go about handling attractions and making relationship decisions. Make plans to actually do fun things and do fun things together with friends. Don’t make just “hanging out” and “making out” your primary way of being together. A lot of alone time usually leads to physical affection which will probably lead you to go further than you intend. Make a point to learn more about each other. Try to discover if you have common interests and similar values. With time, it will become evident if you find each other interesting, are able to communicate and have fun. After a while you learn about each other’s personalities, character and conscience, and detect any problem behaviors.

Remember it takes time to really get to know a person. It takes talking to know what you have in common, to know how you both think and feel, and to know how to handle disagreements. It also takes enough experiences together in different situations and with different people to see how each person acts with you and with others.


McFarland_RebeccaRebecca McFarland is the Frontier Extension District family and consumer sciences agent. For more information, she can be contacted at the Extension district’s Ottawa office, 1418 S. Main, Suite 2, Ottawa, KS 66067, or call 785-229-3520, or email [email protected].

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