As a kids counselor, I am usually surrounded by a vast amount of young people between the ages of 10 to 17. On one of theses occasions, I was faced with an ongoing and very interesting conversation with a young lady– boys. I know what you’re thinking, big surprise there. But what’s different about this story, was her perception of a certain behavior. This teenage girl shared a story with me about a “crush” (not yet in a relationship with) who became very jealous after he saw her talking with a mutual, very platonic male friend. She went on to describe how he became angry with her, withdrew from her, went on to say how upset he was that she was talking with other boys, couldn’t trust her, on and on.
Expecting to hear how intolerant she was going to be with this, she flipped the script. She described this behavior as “cute,” stating how much he must care for her. This caught me off guard- not what I was expecting. I asked a couple of other teens about their thoughts on the matter, only to find that the consensus was about the same. The more jealous, the more it must be that he/she cared.
Needless to say, I talked with and processed more with these children, aka future significant others, future spouses. I urged them to think about these questions more in depth. What else is away a “crush” can show you they care? Is jealousy OK? When does jealousy becomes not OK? Is there a way he/she can tell you that this bothers them without becoming so angry? I wonder what else he/she could be feeling? And later talking more about the idea of insecurity, self-esteem, boundaries, etc. In time my hope is that love will be identified with care, security, and respect. But these are the type of conversations, that must be had with these kids earlier, rather than later, before there is a problem, not after. Talk with your kids, initiate the conversation.