Long before I teach the Human Growth and Development unit (Sex-Ed), I have the students write/explain: What LOVE is? What does love look like? How do you know someone loves you? How do you show love? The students talk about feelings. It’s rare when they initially talk about sacrificing for someone else. You sacrifice for what/who you love. This is my opinion, I don’t think a person really knows what love is until they have a baby. For the first time in your life, you are really focused on another life that is totally dependent upon you. There is no sacrifice too great and you are thrilled with a smile/giggle/laugh. Before we teach Sex-Ed, we need to talk about love and the difference between love and selfishness. These are concepts that students remember more than the memorization of _________________________. Knowing who loves you helps you make good decisions.
The greatest desire of the human heart is to be loved and loved well. No one wants to be loved a little bit, every now and then, or just used by others. People who love you behave differently than people who use you. Therefore, it is important for teenagers to learn what love is and be able to identify the actions/behaviors which reflect the emotion of love. The opposite of love is selfishness; people who use people are being selfish. Our default position is: all about me, what I want, being selfish.
So, I tell kids you have got to differentiate between those who love you and those who will use you. That knowledge helps you make better decisions in every area of your life, not just sexual decisions. One of the deepest blows in life is when you realize you did ____________ (fill in the blank) with someone who manipulated your emotions for him/her to fulfill their selfish agenda. You were useful to them. Every decision involves emotion (love, lust, acceptance, anger, jealousy, greed, fear etc.) — emotionally charged environments are not ideal for decision making. The follow my heart (your heart is all about your feelings) advice usually leads someone down a path that is 180 degrees away from their future goals. Why? Because, feelings change according to external stimuli — music, which friend you are talking with, situations, a book you just read or a character in the latest movie you saw and could relate to and want to emulate, etc.
You will always know who loves you. People tell you by their actions.
People who love you will:
• Do what is best for you. Sacrificing your future may be best for them at the moment but not for you.
• Never knowingly say or do anything that would hurt you.
• Help and support you if you are down. They would not stand by and let you hurt yourself.
• Never be jealous of your success. Success won’t change the relationship.
Selfish people, only love you because you are useful to them. When people are being selfish or self-absorbed, they tend to be users without realizing it. Selfishness/usefulness is one category in the categories of relationships. It’s also very human and these types of people will be in your circle of friends (people you hang with or do business with) and you won’t realize it until the day you observe them or personally experience them deselect you and move on to someone else because at that moment you were not useful to them. They wanted you to cut class with them, or shop lift with them, or do their homework for them, or be involved in the pass off when something was stolen or share a pizza with them or ______________ (fill in the blank). When you say, any variation of NO, you are no longer useful, they have to replace you with someone who will enjoy doing what they enjoy. It’s not personal (although it may be hurtful to you); they need a willing companion and you are not available.
If a relationship is built on selfishness, the relationship won’t be very satisfying. So, you build relationships upon love. It starts with you. You have to know what love is before you can give love, see love coming at you, and identify the people who are using you.
My next blog will discuss Is history repeating itself? Everything Old is New Again.