Teens Developing Communication Skills and The Slut Protocols

Some really valuable tools exist to help adults develop excellent, clear communication skills to express their needs and to set clear boundaries to protect themselves. But when you’re still dealing with teenagers, these tools can be slightly modified. I put training wheels on The Slut Protocols for my daughter.

My oldest daughter is 14 years old, and she’s been hanging out with her core group of friends, as teens are known to do. These are friends who have been mostly hanging out together since 7th grade. But lately, people have started pairing off, as teens in high school are also known to do.

In this core group of 6 people (3 boys and 3 girls), there are two couples. Both pairs are presumably trying out heterosexuality since it’s high school and who knows where they will find themselves in the future. In forming into pairs, it leaves Marcia and this other boy without partners. Her friends are trying to pair them off to “complete the group, ” but my Marcia has told me over and over that she’s not interested in this guy in that way. We had a few conversations about this over the past month or so and I’ll share with you some of the highlights.

Marcia left her phone on my desk at home one day, and her notifications lit up regularly. This was a group text trying to put Marcia and this boy together for their group hangout during the upcoming weekend. I put the phone face down because it was very distracting and made me uneasy. That night, when we sat at dinner, I brought up what happened. I added my observation that she seemed to be spending a lot of time with this small group and mentioned what seemed to be going on through the texts. I asked if she had been getting pressure from the group to “date” the single guy in the group. She confirmed the impression and offered that it was making her a little mad.

(I should also note here, my daughters and I have a pretty open communication style. If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, this is likely not a surprise. If you’re new here, this conversation probably sounds alien. I tell my kids the truth about the topics related to love, dating, relationships, and sex, so, they now see me as a trusted advisor.)

This part of the conversation that was new ground for me. I gently offered that she has options; that she didn’t have to hang out only with them, that she has my support if she wants to start hanging out with some of her other friends; and that she doesn’t have to endure the unwanted pressure. We talked about strategies to tell the friends kindly but firmly to stop teasing her or she wouldn’t be hanging out anymore if they couldn’t respect her wishes. That’s where this situation reminded me of some of Reid Mihalko’s Slut Protocols.

Reid is a colleague and a fantastic sexuality educator. Reid created The Slut Protocols to show people (adults college-age and up) how they “can mitigate emotional imprinting and falling in love unconsciously when having non-exclusive sex with people.” It describes how to communicate and negotiate conscious, ethical and mutually agreeable arrangements with others. Trust me when I say some people want casual sex. If that’s not you or how you were raised you might not understand it. I try not to judge others for their sexual conduct so long as they do this ethically, which is entirely possible if you follow the protocols.

I modified a couple of these for my 14-year old’s non-sexual situation. It wasn’t exactly comparing apples to apples but maybe more like apples to apple juice – taking the essence out and making it work here. The items I chose to highlight for my daughter were ones that could be implemented without the sex angle.

So let’s get back to what I talked about with Marcia.

Protocol 1.

She could limit hangouts with this group to 1x per month. That is, only spending a limited amount of time with them lessens the opportunities to be in the awkward situation. Most importantly, she didn’t have to limit herself to only this group of friends if she didn’t want to. Which lead to…

Protocol 7.

Get your friend-needs met from several sources. She could start rebuilding some friendships she let slide in hanging out nearly exclusively with this group. Doing this protocol could also work to protect herself if the first group were to react harshly to her request they stop trying to pair her up.

A bunch of the Bonus Protocols were more readily applicable for me to think regarding friendships instead of just sex. For example:

Protocol 8.

Talk openly about what’s working for you and what’s not. I advise this in any relationship, sexual or not. Good friends are going to accept you and not judge you when you’re direct with them. The ones who can’t probably aren’t your people.

Protocol 9.

Thank folks within 24 hours of doing some new activity you enjoy. That’s just good manners and good friendship.

Protocol 10.

Respect people’s privacy. Again, just one that makes you a good friend. Maybe you think it’s strange to take a post about “casual sex” and talk about it with my 14-year-old daughter. I disagree. Teens are experiencing or hearing about a lot at this age relating to drugs, alcohol, and sex (do you remember what was going on around you at that age?). My daughter and I sometimes take the opportunity to process these things together. Not everything is about sex, but sometimes valuable resources like this can be watered down for the people who aren’t quite there yet. In turn, that will lay a foundation that leads to good, ethical dealings with other future friends and partners in the future.

Are your teens there yet? How does hearing about this conversation make you feel?

xxoo

Lanae

The MamaSutra

 

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