Filipino Teens and Dating: Growing Needs
By Paolo Gabriel Benitez
At a certain point in life, youths begin to enter a phase known as “adolescence”. Definitively speaking, “the period of life in where a child develops into an adult”. Typical effects of adolescence include hormonal outbreaks, acne, body hair and growth spurts (further amplified by “tule” for the boys). It is a time where parents sit down with their children and give them “the talk”.
As teens, we become hormonal. At a point, the topic of girlfriends and boyfriends will overrule all other subjects. Puppy love is common in everyone, but what sets us Pinoys apart is that the relationship game somehow starts early. At this day and age, it is unnecessary, and there are some pretty big reasons as to why, but before we get to that, we have to understand where it all comes from.
We’d call family and friends over and have a tambayan at our place during weekends. One of the top three ice breakers is “do you have a girlfriend yet?” It’s a question, it’s a tease, or maybe even an insult. From this point, we’re pressured into thinking about having a significant other within our life. We stop, contemplate, and over-complicate our lives with unnecessary thoughts. We’re stuck sitting there, asking ourselves if now is the proper time to make a move or not.
Filipino media is also to take the blame. Let’s face it: we’re a cheesy people, and we love it. Romance films and telenovelas occupy a significant portion of the Filipino media’s market. In your typical “young love” telenovela, we’re introduced to a young, talented and semi-handsome boy who goes for the most beautiful girl in the world (according to his highschool’s standards), they’re introduced to growing pains and quarrels, but eventually gain each other’s love and proceed towards a fairy-tale ending. While such is not the case with relationships in real life, our young boys and girls can be pulled into believing so.
School is particularly the biggest part of our learning curve. Aside from being a center of academic knowledge, school is a hub of peer pressure. At a certain point, the topic of girlfriends and boyfriends will be set abuzz. People will pit themselves in a race against time in the hopes of finding “the one”. In my experience, I’ve met people who said “Paolo, I’m 16 and I don’t have a girlfriend yet.” This is common in Filipino schools. In a school-type environment, we don’t need to be directly addressed to feel pressured. The lack of education on the subject is another reason. Schools are protective in the sense that they don’t teach you about relationships. Learning about couples and the various commitments involved is a lesson only taught through life experience.
Now that we’ve established a basis on why the “need” for relationships at an early age is present, here’s a list of things that will curb “the need.”
Filipino Teens and Dating: Growing Needs
Work on your talent
Talent is the product of passion and hard work. As youths, we are morally obliged to try out many things. We will pick up a niche for something new and drop an existing one. Having a girlfriend/boyfriend when your talent is in the works will only slow you down as your agenda will be chockfull of more dreaded “commitments”.
Mingle with the opposite sex
You’ve just started mingling with the opposite sex. I can guarantee you’ve had a panic attack talking to the girls as well. In the case of some Filipino youths, gender segregated schools can make things seem harder. Conversing with the opposite sex brings a whole bunch of perks into your learning curve. You build up confidence and character and gain a new insight on life. Sooner or later you’ll realize that it’s better to make friends after all! After all, they last a lot longer than relationships.
Take care of someone
Taking care of something, whether it’s a baby (not your baby) or a pet, will equip you with the necessary skills to live with someone in the future. “Future” aside, you will learn responsibility and time management, and those are two very essential qualities that will help you on the long run.
Talk to your parents (no, seriously!)
Your old man has a lot to tell you! Learning from the more experienced people in life may just be a culture shock at first. Over time, the daunting reality you think you may face would be less scary, knowing what to expect. Talking to the more experienced prepares you for the future on the long run.
Take it slow
There will come a point in life where you ask yourself if whether you should make a move with that one girl you only knew for just about half of a year. Consider that you probably won’t be friends afterwards (despite the fact that she might say that). Making a move will either hinder your relationship or take it to the next level (with the latter having a very rare chance). There’s no need to rush! Keeping it casual lessens the heavy load at the back of your brain and keeps your heart rate steady.
Experience the world on your own
We hear it asked often: “How can you love someone else if you are unable to love yourself?” This age-old adage still rings true today. You can only truly succeed in a relationship once you are able to establish a strong relationship with yourself. A whole world awaits (and we’re the globetrotting type), and some people unwillingly throw it away by jumping the gun early. It is top priority that you go out there and learn how to make your own decisions. Having an early relationship will only hinder that and set you back.
From a very young age, we Pinoys are pressured into thinking that a relationship is the be and end all of all human endeavors. True, that a loving relationship is a wondrous thing, but there is infinitely more to life than what is written in romance novels. Peer pressure and a lack of guidance often lead us to making the hastier decision without thinking. Little do we know that this whole “relationship race” is less of a necessity than we think.
PAOLO GABRIEL BENITEZ – Junior Contributor
A visual communications student, Paolo is an aspiring artist, seeking to make his mark in the world of cinematography and the performance arts. When not dancing in the living room in the middle of the night, he functions as a perceptive young man, seeking to learn how things are the way they are and providing insight on the various issues that plague his generation.