Information for Preteens:
FAQs About Relationships
Below are some frequently asked questions that preteens may have about the different relationships in his or her life.
Question: Is it okay to fight with somebody? Can we still be friends? What if we disagree about something?
It is hard enough for one person to really know what another person is feeling and thinking during a routine conversation. It is especially hard to pull this off when we're upset or in an argument.
When you find yourself in an argument, try practicing empathy. Empathy means being sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others, even if you don't feel those things yourself. You can be empathetic if you listen to the other person without preconceived notions or reactions.
Give them time and your full attention as they speak, and try to understand their emotions. Avoid using blaming statements that start with "you," such as "you did this" or "you shouldn't do that." Instead, use "I" statements reflecting your own pain and needs, such as "I feel bad because…"
If you and your friend (sibling, boyfriend, or girlfriend) want to learn more about talking to each other, try the bookstore. You can find lots of good books about communication. You can also take communication workshops – either alone or with someone else.
Adults sometimes use couples counseling, where a therapist works with the couple to help them discuss their concerns and differences. These resources can help you understand why you communicate the way you do. Personal style, expectations, family history, and other issues can all play a role in how well you talk and listen to someone else.
Empathetic listening and good communication can help you avoid tension and fights. Remember, if an argument gets out of control, if you have explosive feelings, or if the fight turns physical, you should get help from someone else. Talk to a teacher, counselor, or parent about what to do.
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Question: How can I break up with somebody? What if someone breaks up with me?
You may want to get back together with your partner after the relationship ends. But remember, you can't make somebody do what they don't want to do. You can, however, talk to others about how you feel. Your friends or parents can be good listeners. Sharing your feelings with them may make you feel better.
You also need to take care of yourself – find a distraction or a new activity with other friends. Tell them you want to stop fixating on your ex and get on with something that feels more constructive.
It's hard to know where our paths are leading us, but we can learn along the way. Try not to get down on yourself or feel that you "are not good enough" if someone breaks up with you. If you find yourself constantly distracted by a sense of rejection or feel like doing something unhealthy, get help. Talk with a trusted adult who can give you mature advice. He or she can help you remember all the good things about yourself and your life.
Breaking up with someone you like can be tough, especially if it is the first time you have had a close relationship. First of all, know that it is not the end of the world! Life goes on and you will meet other people and fall in love again.
Try to busy yourself with other people and positive activities (such as sports, social events, and school projects) that can help you take your mind off of the breakup. Go out and have fun with other people – you may find it makes you feel better.
Expect to feel sad for a while, especially if it was a long-term relationship. Time is a great healer, and some day you may be able to look back and see why this relationship needed to end. Every relationship has the potential to help you grow and learn things that will make your future relationships stronger.
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Question: What can I do if I have a crush on somebody?
Crushes are hard – that's why they're called crushes. If you like someone, try talking to them, smiling, saying "hi," and ask about their interests. If they like you too, ask them to hang out or do something fun together. These efforts might help your crush turn into a real relationship!
Question: What if they don't like you back?
Rejection is also hard. If your feelings are hurt by a friend or someone you like, tell them so. If the problem can't be repaired, find other friends.
Note: Be careful when meeting new friends online. Some adults pretend to be young people looking for friends. Never give out personal information such as phone numbers and addresses. Make sure your parents know whom you are chatting with, and tell the people you chat with that your parents are monitoring the communication.
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Question: Am I ready for a relationship?
This is a great question. Like many people your age, you are wondering about the when's, what's and how's of relationships. Maybe you're interested in another boy or girl and wondering if a relationship might develop.
First, ask yourself what having a boyfriend or girlfriend means to you exactly. What would it look like to have a boyfriend or girlfriend? What activities and behaviors would it include and not include? What does being a couple mean to you?
Think of your own definitions of these things. Talk with friends about their definitions, and see whether you include similar things in your picture of a relationship. Ask siblings, parents, or others how they felt as they approached a relationship.
Get to know the person you're interested in better – whether it's telling them you're interested or just starting a conversation with them about movies, books, or other interests. Don't be afraid to be yourself, and remember that they may be nervous or questioning themselves in the same way.
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Question: How can I start a conversation? What if I am nervous about being the one that starts a conversation?
The important thing is for you to remember that your friends are still your friends – pauses in conversation or not – and that it's okay to stop and smile and sometimes take a moment to think about an answer. A good filler might be to say, "Well, what do you think?" Then actively listen and respond to what they're saying.
It's always OK to say. "let me think a minute" if an answer doesn't come right away. A good way to start conversations is to ask questions:
- "How was your day?"
- "Did you like this?"
- "Have you seen this?"
- "What do you think about that?"
- "Do you have something coming up?"
One conversation-starter I use with my friends is, "What's new and exciting?" Then the next time I see them, I ask follow-up questions: "How did your weekend go?" or "Did you have a good time?" That way they'll know you remember what they said. At appropriate breaks in the conversation, you can change the topic. Say something like, "oh, that reminds me..." or "by the way..."
Hopefully this helps. Take whatever pieces you like of that advice, and tweak or add to them to fit your own communication style.
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Question: How can I deal with my parents?
It's not always easy to connect across a generation with different interests and expectations. But as with any human bond, asking questions and opening discussion is a good beginning to staying connected. Parents want information from their kids. They often feel in the dark and may be disappointed, frustrated, or guilty that they do not have a better relationship with their preteen or teen.
Sometimes it is best to put your own upset, disappointment, or anger aside. Find a moment when nothing else is going on (definitely not in the midst of an argument) and open with one of the following:
- "You know, Mom (or Dad), the strangest thing happened today..."
- "Hey, have you ever thought about..."
- "I've been wondering..."
- "You know what I really hate is..."
You might also ask your parents to do something with you, even something as simple as going for a walk. Sometimes, resentment and anger linger. If an angry or impatient response comes back, try again another time.
Find common ground, neutral topics, and keep talking. Give and ask for information – parents seem to be info junkies. They feel more connected to you when they have more of a picture of what your day was like, what you think about, wish for, and wonder about.
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Question: What do I do about issues with my friends? What if my group changes?
Friends are important. You can lean on them for advice, and they can lean on you. You can also do all sorts of fun things together – such as play games, talk, and just hang out.
Sometimes, however, your taste in friends may change, and you may want to meet new people. But remember that you never know when you may need someone on your side, at school or elsewhere in life. You also don't know how your new friends may change in times ahead. So, go ahead and hang out with your new friends (as long as they seem to be true friends), but don't cut off the old friends either.
Instead, contain their involvement with you in polite ways. You might suggest kindly and genuinely that you're busy at a particular time but don't want hurt their feelings and will call them later. Then follow through – call them, make a specific plan for where and when to meet, and do it. Offer a specific plan to substitute when they're spontaneously trying to be with you.
Lunch time can be hard if your peer group at school is changing. It can also be awkward after school if you used to go home with an old friend and don't do so anymore. To ease those difficulties, remain kind, friendly and open with your old friends. Be thoughtful and show them you're not disconnecting altogether. This can help avoid hurt feelings and anger on all sides.
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high school student writer
Reviewed by: Adolescent Interest Group
Last reviewed: August 2013