When I was growing up, I was lavished with (usually unsolicited) advice on what I should and should not do if I wanted boys to like me. Looking back, some of that advice was so horrible, that I actually can’t believe any adults would come up with this stuff and repeat it with a straight face.
If only older me was around when younger me was getting told this nonsense, I would have had a few things to say…
Tip #1 – Boys don’t like girls who...
You know what? Stop right there. At the risk of repeating a cliché: not all boys. Boys don’t all think the same. There’s not some hive-mind out there that all boys are tapped into. Like girls, boys are actually individuals - human beings, each with their own tastes and interests. This idea that boys all think like this and girls all think like that is one of the most damaging and silly superstitions we like to hold onto.
Not all boys even like girls. So why on earth would they all like exactly the same type of girl? Unless that sentence goes something along the lines of “Boys don’t like girls who try to hack their arms off with a knife”, (and even then it’s probably only safe to say most boys…) then I can guarantee you that there’s plenty of boys out there who absolutely do like girls who are or like or do whatever the thing you’ve been told boys don’t like girls to be or like or do.
Tip #2 – Boys only want one thing
Again with the damaging mythology. Yes, boys want sex. Probably most humans really want sex after a certain age, especially when certain hormones hit. And yes, in a culture where boys are constantly taught that their value as persons somehow relies on them having as much sex as possible, while girls are taught that their value as persons somehow relies on them having as little sex as possible, then there’s (sadly) going to be situations where boys will do absolutely anything to try “trick” sex out of girls.
But boys, like girls, often actually do want more than just sex. Boys are not soulless, materialistic, emotionless monsters, they’re humans. They want love, and companionship, and affection, just like all humans do.
There’s this idea that, in a relationship, the girl must try get as much love in exchange for as little sex as possible out of the boy, and the boy must try get as much sex in exchange for as little love as possible out of the girl.
Love and sex is treated like a game that you need to try “win” at, rather than two very wonderful things that people can choose to share with each other. It’s actually really screwed up, and sometimes I think this is one of the biggest problems affecting relationships and causing so much pain.
So here’s the thing. Never give a boy sex in exchange for affection or feel like you owe him sex in exchange for his affection. This doesn’t mean never have sex, but only ever have sex because you want to have sex and so does he.
Sex is not a favour you’re doing a boy. Affection is not a favour he’s doing you. They are both something you share, because you both enjoy them, want them, and want to share them with each other.
Tip: #3 – Boys might want to sleep around when they’re young, but they’ll want to marry virgins. If you want to get married, stay a virgin
I’m sure you’ve been told that your virginity is so valuable that you should keep it as a special gift for your future husband, and if that’s something you believe and want to do, that’s fine. But here’s something else I would like you to hear and believe:
You are so valuable that you are worth so much more than some hypocritical douche bag who wants to experience the pleasures and joys of sex before marriage but does not want the woman he marries to experience the same.
Your value and worth as a human being is not tied to your virginity. Not at all. Not even a little bit. And any guy who’s going to treat you like you’re not “marriage material” because you’ve had sex is not marriage material. You should be happy to dodge that bullet.
Tip #4 – Generally don’t ever have sex ever
There is a reason why we tend to be careful with sex. Sex can be dangerous. You can be hurt, you can get a disease, and you can fall pregnant. None of these potential risks should be taken lightly, and I’m the last person who is going to say they should be.
But “abstinence only” advice is just plain stupid advice that has been shown not to work. What matters is not that you never have sex. What matters is that you are entirely and 100% in control of your own sex life.
You. Not your community, or your pastor, or your friends, or your boyfriend or girlfriend. You.
That means you practice safe sex, and you don’t rely on others to keep you safe, you take responsibility for this yourself. That means you do not have sex with people you don’t really want to have sex with. That means you have sex because you want to and have decided to have sex, or you don’t have sex because you don’t want to and have decided not to have sex, and for no other reasons.
If you’re not ready to control and be entirely responsible for your own sex life, then it’s probably not a good idea to have sex yet, not because it’s “the ebil”, but because then you’re putting yourself at risk of being harmed and abused.
So there you have it. That’s the advice I would have given to younger me. And to every adult who tries to control teenage girls by telling them they’ll never get married if they don’t behave a certain way? Shame on you.
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