On Being Teenage and Single

On Being Teenage and Single

"Almost everyone except me seems to be dating.”
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Q. Almost everyone except me seems to be dating. Some people say since I don't have a girlfriend, I must not like girls. I know I'm not gay, and I shouldn't let their teasing bother me, but it does. I'm wondering if you have any suggestions for how I can deal with this.

A. First things first: Not everyone is dating. I know it seems that way when you aren't dating, but judging from the mail Ignite Your Faith receives, I can promise you that not dating doesn't make you different from others. So try to remember you aren't alone. Try to start noticing the other non-daters in your school or your youth group. There are probably far more than you thought.

And honestly, as fun as dating can be, it is not the most important part of life. During high school, dating is mostly a way to get comfortable with members of the opposite sex. It's also a way to have someone to hang out with on a Friday night, and a way to think about what qualities are important to you in a future spouse. But you can do all of that without dating, too. If you don't have a few female friends, it's time to develop some friendships with people of the opposite sex. Start talking to the girl who sits next to you in physics, or the girl in front of you in the lunch line. Be friendly, be interested in who they are, and be yourself. Before long, you'll have connected with all kinds of girls who can be good friends to you. Eventually, you may be interested in dating one of these friends. If not, that's OK. Right now, good, caring friendships are much more important than dating.

Now for the gay thing. I'm sorry people say this to you. It's mean and immature. Even when you know the teasing isn't true, it's tough to ignore it. But honestly, that might be the only thing that will make it stop. And that still might not work. But give it a try. For the next two weeks make a conscious effort to ignore the comments.

Here is something important to keep in mind. As you say, it's only "some people" who are calling you gay. It's not all people. Try to concentrate on positive comments from other people who aren't mean and cruel toward you. Do what you can to simply avoid contact or conversations with those people who do call you gay. Also, talk to your pastor, a Christian teacher you know or another caring Christian adult about this problem. Ask this person to pray with you. Go to this caring adult friend when the teasing gets to you. Knowing you have someone's support, encouragement and prayers can go a long way toward taking some of the sting out of those unkind comments.

Carla is an editor of the Teen Devotional Bible (Zondervan).

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