Before you've been in a relationship, it's hard to say what you really want in a guy. But after being in one, teens can begin to narrow down what you are looking for. That's a good thing!
"They can learn more about what they do and don't want in a relationship by 'sampling the buffet.' They also can learn to love and respect themselves, so their self-esteem is not dependent upon a man's opinion of them. I remember well the breakup of my first serious love relationship. When he cheated on me after 2 years of dating, I broke up with him, then took him back after he promised fidelity. A year later, when he cheated again, I told him, 'My feelings about you have not changed at all. I love you as much as I ever did, but my feelings about myself have changed a great deal, and I deserve to be treated better," says child and family psychologist Katie McCorkle, Ph.D.
Survival is one of the more baser instincts, and it's one that is largely reinforced when a girl falls in love, gets hurt and survives the whole thing. "If she can allow herself to feel the hurt and rise above it, in time she will learn that she can go through anything with grace and belief in herself. This will take her a long way in her life and help her develop self-esteem, which is so important in any teen's life," says Love.
As a parent, you want to shield your child from hurt and pain. But some hurts are necessary to development. The key, as a parent, is to listen without trying to fix your child. You aren't there to change what happened -- you're there to be a sounding board and perhaps even relate to the experiences of your child.
"Do not judge her or the boy. Reassure her that she is loved and lovable, and that loving and respecting herself is the path to finding the relationship of her dreams! When girls (and women) realize that they attract men who mirror back to them what they think of themselves, it becomes inspiration to love and respect ourselves more," says McCorkle.
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