UB David + I'll B Jonathan, Inc.


Teen Issues: Friendship, Dating and Sex




Questions from real-life teens with answers from well known columnist, Tim Stafford.

Content originally appeared in Campus Life magazine. Copyright © 2001-2005 by columnist, Tim Stafford. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

UB David + I'll B Jonathan, Inc.


Teen Issues: Friendship, Dating & Sex

Teen Issues: Friendship, Dating & Sex

Questions from real-life teens with answers from well known columnist, Tim Stafford.

Lesson 9: Concerned About Friends

Concerned About Friends


I'm Worried About My Friend

Question: My best friend is thinking about moving out of her mom's house because they aren't getting along. I'm worried that when my friend moves out she might have her boyfriend over. Their relationship is pretty intense, and I'm concerned that they might start having sex. I want to ask her about it, but she doesn't tell me details about anything in her life. I told her I was worried about her moving out, but didn't tell her why. I don't want her to be mad at me. How do I tell her? Or should I say anything?

Answer: I'm glad you're concerned about your friend. And I think your instinct is correct: It's a good idea to talk to her about this. The subject is sensitive, and it's true that she might take your concern all wrong. But since you care about her, it's a risk worth taking.

It's best to have this type of conversation face to face. You might have to clarify something if she misunderstands, and it's best to do that right away, in person.

Start with the positive. Remind your friend that you care about her, and that you think she's a wonderful person with great potential. Let her know that your friendship is unconditional.

Then explain that you're worried about what might happen to her if she goes out on her own. Tell her about your belief that sex should be saved for marriage, and that premarital sex is a mistake. Then ask her: "Do I have anything to be worried about?"

Be sure to listen to your friend, and to keep her in your prayers, no matter what her answer is. You have to accept that your friend may go in a direction you don't approve of. Tell her you're with her, no matter what—but let her know that you are concerned.


My Friend's Making A Bad Choice

Question: A friend of mine has started hanging out a lot with a guy from her after-school job. She likes him a lot. The problem is, he's a lot older than we are, and he's also married, with a couple of kids. I told her that it's a really bad idea to be involved with him, but she said he told her that he and his wife are unhappy, and the only reason they haven't divorced yet is that they have young kids. She asked me if it's OK to see him as a good friend while she waits for him to get divorced. Just thinking about this makes me feel awful. What should I tell her? How can I help her see that this isn't good?

Answer: Your friend is in terrible trouble, and you're absolutely correct to be alarmed. She's blinded herself to the truth. Until something happens to open her eyes, she won't hear anything you say. She'll talk her way past every objection. When you disagree, she'll think you're jealous or trying to spoil her fun.

Keep your friendship with her alive in hope that she'll someday wake up. Keep asking questions, but don't nag. Let her know what you think, but don't lecture. Ask creative questions, like: When will those children be old enough so a divorce won't hurt them? What does your friend say about the marriage counseling he's received? Do you think people who are married should quit if they feel unhappy? What do you think will happen to those children? Anything you can do to get her thinking is good.

There's something else your friend should be aware of: If she's underage, it could be more than inappropriate and dangerous for her to be involved with this man. It could also be illegal. Many states have laws that forbid sexual relationships with underage people. Again, you're right to be concerned about your friend. Keep in touch with her, and if you believe the situation has become dangerous, ask your parents or youth pastor to intervene.


My Friend's Sleeping Around

Question: My best friend went off to college last year, and when she came back at Christmas she told me she was no longer a virgin. The hard part about it was she had slept with three different guys, numerous times. She said she was going to stop, but when she came back for summer she admitted nothing had changed. Again she said she would stop, but right before she left she had sex with a mutual friend of ours in her church building. I got mad at her and told her how disrespectful that was to God, and how stupid and immature she was being. Now we never talk. What do I do? I've done everything but tell her parents, and I won't do that. I miss my friend.

Answer: You can only be ready to pick up the pieces if she crashes—as she probably will. I'd write or call her and say that while it's hard to watch her go against your values, you recognize you have to give her freedom. Tell her you still care for her, and that no disagreement can ever take that away. Tell her you'll always be there for her if she's ever in need of someone to talk to.

I doubt you'll ever experience the kind of friendship you once had. It's hard to be close when your choices have diverged so drastically. I'd urge you, though, to try to stay in touch. Life is a long journey, and there are many bends in the road. At some later stage, your friend may really need you. She won't be able to reach out to you if you've lost contact.


She's Lowered Her Standards

Question: My friend and I both live in Christian homes and attend a Christian school. We've talked a lot about how important it is to save sex for marriage. About a year ago, she started dating a non-Christian guy. He was really nice, and she believed that she could help him see why he should accept Christ. But I think it's worked the other way around—he's caused her to start lowering her standards and not paying much attention to her faith. I don't think she's a virgin anymore. She hasn't told me, but I know her pretty well, and she seems really uncomfortable when we talk about saving ourselves. She's also started to lie to her parents, and, I think, to me. I don't know what to do. Should I approach her? How should I tell her I'm worried about her?

Answer: Yes, definitely approach her. You know what's going on, and she knows you know. If you don't bridge the awkwardness, your friendship will end. Right now, she needs you more than ever.

Think about it. She's gone against her parents. She's gone against her own conscience. She's failed in her plan to influence this guy. She probably justifies what she's doing, but in her heart of hearts she knows she's headed in the wrong direction. Your friend is probably feeling pretty miserable. The tricky part is to talk honestly without making her defensive. She probably feels so bad she doesn't want to be reminded of it. She might get angry at anybody who questions her. But, if she's your friend you owe it to her. You have to try.

Make an appointment to get together to talk. Don't try to do it on the phone or over e-mails or texting. When you talk in person she'll see from your face that you care. You'll be right there to work through any misunderstandings.

Make it clear that you're not there to condemn her. You feel as her friend you should remind her of the truth. Let her know that you want to continue as her friend, even if she doesn't do what you think she should. You aren't going to approve of her actions, but you still are there for her.

Maybe she'll be ready to change her direction on the spot. More likely, she won't. However, it's only a question of time before this relationship goes off the track. Will she be left alone to sort out all her pain? Or will she know she has a friend who cared all along? I hope it's the latter.


My Friends Are Going Too Far

Question: Two of my best friends are dating. Both are strong Christians, but I'm worried about them. The girl has recently been through a lot. Before she started dating her current boyfriend, she was raped two or three times. She also had sex with several other guys. She's changed since then, but it's only been about six months. While I know my friends aren't having sex right now, they do some pretty heavy "petting," which makes me nervous. What can I do? I don't want them to think I'm being nosy. I'm just afraid what they're doing will lead to more.

Answer: You're obviously a caring friend. It's easier to take a "none of my business" stance, but real friends do care about the spiritual and physical welfare of others. What you describe between these two would definitely count as risk factors. Past sexual experiences (including negative ones) often lead to greater sexual promiscuity. You feel uncomfortable with the kinds of interactions you see between them, and I'd say it's wise to trust your feelings. If you feel concerned, there's a good chance you should be.

So what should you do? I would start by trying to talk to them individually about their relationship. You're concerned they'll think you're "nosy," but they might just appreciate your care and concern. Still, they may not welcome your advice. If that's the case, I'd try to offer resources instead. For example, you might refer them to this series of lessons. Or, ask your pastor if he has a book or other resources he'd recommend, and pass it on to them. Then, ask one or both of them what they thought, and whether they'd like to talk about it.

You can only offer. You can't insist. But you never know. One or both of them might be struggling, ready and waiting for any help or counsel. If you don't put yourself out there, you'll never know for sure.


Questions from real-life teens with answers from well known columnist, Tim Stafford.

Content originally appeared in Campus Life magazine. Copyright © 2001-2005 by columnist, Tim Stafford. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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