Friday, February 18, 2011


I remember my first love; my first serious, real love. We were attending colleges 800 miles apart. He "pinned" me (Fraternity pin) my Sophmore year, we never had sex, but we talked about marriage after college. My mother had other ideas and made me break up with him before I left for my Junior year abroad because we practiced different religions.

At the time, I was sad and angry, but I guess it wasn't too tragic. I dated in Scotland that year and met my husband while in grad school.

First, "serious" loves are very different today. They often involve older, experienced boys and younger, naiive girls. They happen in middle school rather than high school or college. They often involve sex, including coerced sex.

The girls I work with at the shelter have romantic ideas about the boys they love, but don't seem to date the way we did. Maybe their boyfriends don't have the money or time to take them out to the movies, family parties, football games, walking. Maybe it's the special population of girls I know right now. They have to meet their boyfriends at school or away from the shelter. This may ruin the relationship or bring out the worst in both of them.

The members of my teen group seems to say the "right things" when we talk about dating violence. They are interested in the subject. Some have already experienced dating violence, coercion, control, abuse. All insist they want a different life than their mothers have experienced.

So many of them are smart, verbal, and hopeful. Some are withdrawn, don't participate in the discussions, seem bored or uncertain.

Which ones will succeed in finding a partner with whom they can share a "normal" way of life--the talkers or the quiet ones?

Beats me. If I had an answer, if I could predict the future, we'd move away from the generational passing down of "love" that hurts or even kills.

Wouldn't that be great?

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