Tips for living: Fantastic friendships better for teens than romance

By Rosemarie Howard

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Jan. 12 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

Teens and occasionally their parents seem to think something is wrong if the adolescents aren’t in a romantic relationship.

In her book, “UnSteady Dating: Resisting the Rush to Romance” (Cedar Fort, $12.99) JeaNette G. Smith dispels the notion that teens and romantic relationships are inevitable.

In fact, she says they don’t even belong together. Pursuing romance should be reserved for those ready to marry, she says. “Anybody who expects a commitment like that from a high school student has been listening to too much Taylor Swift,” Smith writes.

A much healthier approach for teens is to pursue honest friendships, she says, listing a few of the reasons:

• Cultivating many friendships allows teens to become more well-rounded and participate in more activities. “Guys (or girls) are like electives,” Smith says, quoting a CosmoGirl article. “You’ve got to take a bunch before you decide to commit to a major.”

• It’s more fun to casually date many friends. This eliminates the drama and trauma of going steady. Avoiding an “ex” is awkward and sometimes keeps a teen from participating in school, community, family and LDS Church activities.

• Good friendship skills prepare teens to not only wisely choose a marriage partner but to be a better marriage partner. “Functional, healthy adolescent relationships,” writes Smith, “are the best preparation for healthy, unscarred adult relationships.”

Smith is a licensed marriage and family therapist who frequently speaks at Brigham Young University Education Week. She and her husband, Gerald, live in Florida. Her website is www.smithfamilytherapy.org.

Rosemarie Howard lives in a 100-year-old house on Main Street, Springville. She enjoys creating multimedia projects. Her website is at dramaticdimensions.com.

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