I have a son who is just entering his teens, and alongside all the many hassles that teens bring into family life, he is simply desperate to have a girlfriend! He seems so worried about finding one, that I feel quite sorry for him.
Is there any useful advice I can offer him, while he is still willing to listen to me?
Hi, Girlfriend Anxieties!
Lots of teenage boys worry about finding a girlfriend. Mostly that is because young men have a lot to learn about attracting girls! The older men seem so confident, and he feels so nervous. They talk so easily, while he feels so tongue-tied.
But every man has been there. Even the ones who look so cool had to start somewhere.
Remind him that he is not planning to get married anytime soon, so he should use his first few girlfriends to learn social skills, just as they are practising theirs on him. In other words, dating at his age is all about having fun and should not be taken too seriously (he won't like to hear that bit!).
Tell him he will also do better if he focuses on her feelings instead of his. And that if he just aims to have a simple, relaxed, conversation which shows an interest in her, then his nerves will vanish.
Above all, tell him not to be in too much of a hurry! Apart from anything else, it will make him look needy. And few things turn girls off more quickly than needy boys. That matters, because when girls meet someone new, they are instinctively sizing him up.
Some of that is about whether he seems bright, so he should work on his sense of humour. They are even more impressed if he can sing or dance well because that suggests he is fun to be with, and that he is prepared to work hard at something! They also want him to be resilient, and able to cope with all the joshing that goes on between teenagers.
But what impresses them the most is whether he looks like he is going to be a success in life. So tell him to build up his interests, his social life, and his studies. And to have some clear ideas about a career (you will enjoy telling him that bit, though he will probably zone you out!).
Okay, he must also learn to understand girls and how to treat them right. But once it is clear he is destined to succeed, and is confident and having fun, then it is the girls who will come looking for him, not the other way round!
All the best,