See here for overview.
What About Dating?
Most girls your age are beginning to want boy friends, as well as girl friends. Some girls make friends very easily without conscious effort and have so many invitations to go places and do things that their problem is to keep their social life in its proper place and not let it absorb so much time and attention that they neglect everything else. Other girls would like to have more boy friends and dates but they wonder what they can do about it.
Here are three narratives that describe some of the different things girls who would like more social life might do.
As you read this first story, try to put yourself in Babs’ place, and imagine how she felt. Then decide in your own mind whether or not you would react as she did, or differently.
The minute the bell rang, Babs hurried home from school. She didn’t want to walk with any of the girls. She didn’t want to walk with anyone. At home she tried to keep busy, seem cheerful and to avoid any conversation about school affairs. She must act as if this were an ordinary days, but it wasn’t. It was a day full of misery and embarrassment. It was the day of the Prom and the girls had all been so excited about their dresses and their dates and their plans, it had been a terrific strain to appear unconcerned. The question that hurt most was “Why aren’t you going?” And for several days she had been trying to avoid situations that might lead someone to ask it. Of course her close friends wouldn’t ask that. They knew.
Immediately after supper, she mentioned having work to do and went to her room. Before she closed the door, however, she heard her mother say to her father, “Babs hasn’t even mentioned the Prom. Susan’s mother asked me if Babs was going or I wouldn’t have remembered it was tonight. I told her no, Babs was so absorbed with her lessons she didn’t pay much attention to the social side of school. Naturally, I couldn’t say so to her, but I’m glad Babs isn’t as boy-crazy as Susan is. Why, at their age it is ridiculous.”
Babs closed the door quietly, tears stinging against her blinking lids. So, even her parents thought she didn’t care about the good times she missed. They thought she didn’t want to go to the Prom. Well, she must be pretending pretty well and she’d go on pretending. she had too much pride to let anyone know how much it hurt to be left out of things. Maybe some people thought Susan and some of the other girls were too young for dates, but they had a lot of fun, and even if she were called “boy crazy,” she wished she could talk to the boys and joke with them as easily as Susan did. You couldn’t expect anyone to ask to take you to the Prom when you could never think of anything to say to a boy and you blushed and felt horribly self-conscious if one even sat down by you in class. Well, someday she’d show people that she wasn’t just an insignificant little nobody.
She went to bed early but she really didn’t want to go to sleep, at all. This time in bed before she went to sleep was her favorite time. When it was dark and quiet, she could shut the world of reality right out of her mind. She could forget her fears and her hurts, the parties to which she wasn’t invited and the pretty dresses she didn’t need but longed to wear.
In this make-believe world of hers she was much older, and very beautiful. What she imagined was sort of like a continued story. Every now and then, she’d think of some new episode in which exciting, wonderful things happened to her that surely could happen someday, if she managed right.
Sometimes she felt a trifle guilty about this indulgence of hers – imagining these adventures and pretending they were real. But maybe someday she’d learn to be a writer and use these situations she thought up in stories or in a novel. It was exercise for her imagination, and she was good at making up things. Even her English teacher said that. It seemed funny how she could think up clever conversation when she was just pretending, yet she felt so tongue-tied and blank when she tried to talk to real people, especially to boys.
Most people do some day-dreaming. Do you think Babs should be criticized for this? Why, or why not?
As we mentioned in Chapter V, this type of day-dreaming might be merely an escape from unpleasant reality – a way of comforting oneself. In other cases, people work toward their dreams and eventually do achieve the kinds of things they plan for themselves. We would have to wait a few years to see what, if anything, Babs did about hers.
Babs was probably recognizing the real reason for her lack of dates when she admitted to herself how self-conscious she was, and trying to find the real reason was a step in the right direction. It was a much healthier attitude for her to look for the reason in herself than to put the blame on someone else. But the point is, she wasn’t doing anything that would help her to overcome being embarrassed and uncomfortable around boys. Her day-dreaming was a substitute satisfaction but it wouldn’t do anything to help her make more friends now.
Just because you occasionally feel like this doesn’t mean you will never be popular.
Many times we go on for a long while being unhappy about a situation we could do something about, but we have to learn to face the issues in the problem squarely. Of course if Babs were only fourteen or fifteen or even sixteen and not having dates, it wouldn’t mean she never would be popular. Maybe she just needed to grow up a little more.
Whether or not you are dating now is less important than how you feel about it. If you can say to yourself, “What of it? I’m all right. There are other important things to do. The boys are OK but that doesn’t mean I have to like any one particularly well,” that is a very healthy attitude. It is unfortunate if you spend a lot of time feeling self-conscious about it, brooding and wondering “Is there something the matter with me? Do people think I’m not attractive, and do they comment about my not having dates?” The truth is lots of girls your age don’t date, lots of people think girls shouldn’t date before they are at least fifteen or sixteen years old. If you hadn’t any friends, that would be cause for concern but not having boy friends yet is no reflection on your personality at all. There’s plenty of time ahead.
If you do date, your attitude is important, too. If you have to show off and tell the world about it at every opportunity, as if this were a very unique thing and indicated that you were a very unusual person you are just inviting people to tease and laugh at you.
But if you can accept it with reasonable dignity and go on being your sweet natural self, you can count on people being interested with you instead of critical.
Now, let’s see what another girl who wanted more dates and fun, did about this same problem. Cally wasn’t the kind to sit back and day-dream or wait for attention. She went after it, but what do you think of her method?
“Telephone, Bart,” Ann shouted from the kitchen door.
Bart wriggled his head out from underneath his car which was parked in the driveway. “Who is it? See if I can call them back when I get through fixing this.”
“It’s Cally again.” Ann imitated the girl’s honey-sweet telephone voice sarcastically. “And-she-just-wants-to-talk-to-Barton.”
“Hey, wait a minute.” Bart was definitely annoyed. “Don’t tell her I’ll call her back. Tell her I’m busy, or tell her I’m not around – or anything you please.” He crawled back under the car and began tinkering again.
But eight-year-old Karen, sitting up in the apple tree, heard, and couldn’t pass up a chance to tease. She began to chant, “Cally loves Barton, Cally loves Barton – Cally wants a date so she calls up Barton.”
“Oh, pipe down, pig tails,” Bart scolded. “You don’t have to broadcast. Can I help it if that dizzy dope keeps making a nuisance of herself? You’d better get more sense when you grow up.”
Just then Bart’s friend, Bob Wilson, came up the walk. “Hi, Bart, what’s the rumpus?”
Karen answered before Bart had a chance. “Cally Collins phoned Bart again. I’ll bet she wanted him to take her to a show.”
“What! You, too?”
“You mean she’s hounding you?”
“She was for a while. It seemed like every third corner I’d turn, there she was waiting. She’d say ‘Hel-lo, Bob, looks like you’re going right in my direction.’”
“Ever take her on a date?”
“Not me. When I want a date, I’ll do the asking. Did you?”
“Naw, I have enough troubles without bothering with the little women. I just wish they wouldn’t other me.”
“Oh, the girls are all right – at least some of them,” Bob conceded with exaggerated generosity, “but Cally Collins isn’t my dish.”
“Well, I wish some fellow would fall for her to take her off my trail,” Bart answered.
“Yeah, but who wants to admit he got caught by a girl who chases every guy in town? Somebody ought to help her catch on to herself.”
Do you think Barton was as annoyed as he pretended or might he have really felt flattered that this girl liked him?
Boys have many of the same kinds of feelings girls have. They want to be liked and they are flattered when girls pay attention to them. Some of them feel bashful and self-conscious, and they talk a good deal about the girls they know just as girls discuss the boys. They don’t want to go with a girl the fellows will tease them about; they want dates with the same girls their pals want to date. And you will recall that in the last chapter we mentioned how boys like to take the initiative in making dates.
Cally’s persistent attention might make Bart feel more pleased with himself, but it probably wouldn’t make him any more fond of her.
The boys aren’t noticing Babs yet, but she at least isn’t doing anything to spoil her chances of becoming well liked later, but Cally’s way of trying to increase her popularity is most apt to have just the opposite effect because it will be hard for her to live down an unfavorable reputation.
In the chapter, “Can You Face Life Squarely?” you remember we mentioned a number of things people do to ease the strain when they don’t know how to solve their problems. Pretending not to care, seeking consolation in some other activity, daydreaming, as Babs did, are examples of evasion techniques. She was doing something, but nothing that would help. Cally’s attack on the problem is an illustration of aggressive behavior. The trouble was, she was doing too much of the wrong thing and this defeated her own purpose. Trying too hard to be clever, pretending sophistication, being too enthusiastic about every suggestion, concentrating too much on the impression you are trying to make are other illustrations of doing too much of the wrong thing.
[This story illustration was adapted from a narrative in Sec. I of Let’s understand Each Other, by Eleanor R. Wembridge – Women’s Press, N.Y. 1940, p. 34.]
“Everything happens to me,” Sue moaned to her best chum, Anne. “I can’t imagine any worse luck but after all the planning I’ve done to make my party Friday night really super, guess what’s going to spoil everything?”
“Oh, I couldn’t, what’s the bad news?” Anne was sympathetic as a best pal should be.
“Well, Mom had a letter yesterday from Aunt Mary and it said my cousin Peg has some kind of a 4H exhibit here at the state fair and she’s supposed to be here for a couple of days, so of course she wants to stay at our place and I’ll have to have her at my party!”
“Is she so bad?”
“Actually I haven’t seen her for a couple of years but she lives away out on a ranch so I don’t imagine she’s ever gone out much. You know the main reason I’m giving this party is to try to impress Greg. He’s lived here a couple of months now and if I don’t soon get him interested, some other girl will. But can’t you see the impression if I have to introduce some countrified looking character as one of my relatives. Oh, I guess she’s all right. She’s awfully smart but I can’t see her fitting into our crowd.”
When Peg arrived, she too was worried about the party. She hurried home as early as possible from her activities at the Fair Grounds to get ready. She showered and dressed quickly and then sat on the bed watching Sue primp. Two years had done a great deal for her appearance. She looked fresh and attractive but in a very inconspicuous way.
“There’s no use for me to work very hard on my face,” she laughed. “I couldn’t look as pretty as you do if I slaved for hours, so I’ll be the contrast instead of any competition. Tell me who’s coming?”
Sue began naming the guests and Peg kept stopping her to ask questions. Finally she got a piece of paper and began writing names and notes.
“Then there’s Carl Mecklenberg,” Sue finished the list.
“That’s a different name, how do you spell it?”
“My stars, what difference does it make? What are you doing anyway? This is a party, not a spelling test, don’t take it so seriously!”
“I’ll admit it does scare me to be meeting your friends and I’m not very good at remembering names. I need to practice a little so I’ll say them right.”
“Well, you don’t need to be afraid of Carl, he’s so bashful and awkward he acts positively dumb. The only thing he knows how to do is play an accordion but he can do that so I asked him to bring it. I wouldn’t have invited him but we needed one more boy to come out even.”
“Carl’s for me, then. The bashful boys are the ones I can talk to the easiest. I used to be afraid of people, too. I know how they feel.”
As the guests arrived, Peg was able to repeat each of their names in a warm friendly and distinct manner as she was introduced. When Carl came in he looked as uncomfortable as Sue had described him but he relaxed visibly when Peg said with a gay smile, “So you’re Carl! Sue told me you were coming and I’ve been wondering how you would look and all about you. My kid brother wants an accordion so I have a lot to ask you about it when we get a chance.”
Before the party was over, instead of being embarrassed by her cousin, Sue was very grateful to Peg. She was a great help in making the party a success. She didn’t try to attract attention. No one would ever say she was the life of the party. But she had a way of moving around among the guests, asking questions, drawing the quiet ones into the conversation and trying to get acquainted with each person there. She was so genuinely interested in Sue’s friends they couldn’t help but feel friendly toward her. They were soon asking all about life out on the ranch where she lived and about her winning entry at the fair.
When the party was over, Greg said to Sue at the door, “Can’t we talk Peg into staying over a few days? I could bring Bill along and we’d show her the town.”
“Oh, I’ll surely try,” Sue answered and sincerely meant it, for this was the first time Greg had shown any special interest in her.
What was Peg’s method of making friends? She had probably had a great deal more experience in meeting people than Sue assumed for she had learned that people like other people who are interested in them and who build up their self esteem. Being relaxed, and sincerely interested in others is a much surer way of making friends than concentrating on the impression you are trying to make.
How Would You Rate as a Date?
It is important to know how to make friends and it’s equally important to know how to keep friends. There is a great deal for girls to learn about getting along with fellows. You don’t want to be over-anxious, or just too drippingly honey-sweet or you’ll scare them away. But you do want to be courteous and considerate and treat your friendships with the respect they deserve.
Here is a quiz to test your “know-how” on a few sample situations of a kind you’re apt to meet some day. Be honest-injun and check what you think you would do. Give yourself ten points for each decision that agrees with the answers below. A score of 90-100 rates you a smooth gal who should have smooth sailing.
1. Your crowd has been playing records at your house. Interest lags. You suggest Chinese checkers, but one of the fellows says, “Let’s go roller skating,” and everyone is for it except you.
(a) You insist that since you are hostess they should stay and do what you’ve planned.
(b) You tell them to go ahead if they like, but you aren’t going.
(c) You admit you can’t skate well enough to like it, but you’re game to try if they’ll help you learn.
2. You have an extra special date. In the afternoon a little older, but boy-shy cousin arrives unexpectedly to spend the weekend.
(a) You say nothing to your date and just take her along.
(b) You tell your cousin how it is and leave her at home with your folks.
(c) You call your date and explain that you have a guest and ask if he’d like to invite a pal to come along, or if he’d like to help you think of something to do that would be fun for three.
(d) You arrange for a girl friend to go to a movie with your cousin.
3. You thought the date was for a movie. It’s a holiday, so you make it special and don heels and hose and a fabulous new dress. He arrives in a beat-up old sweater and slacks, and suggests you join the gang for a wiener roast at Sally’s.
(a) You say, “Nix, pal. You asked me for a movie, and it’s a movie I said yes for.”
(b) You say, “Sounds fun, but you’ll have to give me five minutes to change so I’ll match you and the party.”
(c) You tell him straight from the shoulder that it wasn’t very considerate to let you think it was dress-up and then come in his old duds.
(d) You change your clothes, but make him wait twenty minutes so he’ll realize you don’t like it.
4. Mary asks you to double on a blind date. You can’t seem to click with the boy they brought along, but you think Mary’s date is super.
(a) So you concentrate on your date anyway and make a real effort to draw him out and show him a good time.
(b) You let Mary worry about the entertainment, it was her idea.
(c) You play up to Mary’s date so everyone can see that you’re not a flat-tire with fellows who interest you.
5. You’re all prettied up waiting for Jack. You go on waiting. He doesn’t show up.
(a) You phone him to see what goes.
(b) You wait until you see him and give him a chance to explain.
(c) You cut him cold and refuse to listen to any explanation.
6. It’s your first date with Jerry. You’re all ready and listening for the doorbell. Will you:
(a) Wait in the living room so you can go to the door.
(b) Deliberately keep him waiting fifteen minutes so he won’t think you’re in a big rush to see him.
(c) Let someone else answer the door so you can make an impressive entrance down the stairs.
7. You have hoped Ted would ask you to the Valentine dance, but only three days before he hasn’t yet. Someone came along and interrupted when he stopped to talk to you in the hall today. Later in the evening you are called to the phone. You expect it to be Ted and have your answer ready, but it’s Mack wanting you to go with him. Mack’s all right, but you would rather go with Ted.
(a) You accept and make it sound gracious.
(b) You say no, you have another date, hoping you will have.
(c) You stall and say you’ll tell him tomorrow.
8. Your parents say okay to fun with the crowd, but they think you’re a bit young for dates. You’ve argued that the other girls can go out, and they have finally agreed to one date a week if you’re in by the time they say and can keep up with your school work. Friday night you go to a dance, and Saturday a fellow you really like asks you for a movie. You’d give a month’s allowance to go with him.
(a) You accept right quick and decide to take whatever consequences there are at home.
(b) You tell him you can’t and complain that it’s because your parents are strict, old-fashioned meanies who treat you like an eight-year-old.
(c) You explain the spot you’re in, but tell him that since your folks were good sports about compromising you’d like to stick by your bargain. You suggest that you’ll talk it over with your mom and see if she can see it your way this once or you’ll save him your night out for next week.
9. You accepted a date for an informal get-together with two other couples at the home of a friend. Early in the evening a fellow you have wished would ask you for a date and who has a car of his own phones to ask if you’ll go for a ride.
(a) You accept and tell him to call for you in time so you’ll be gone before the other friend comes for you.
(b) You accept and then phone and break the other date, pleading a headache.
(c) You explain why you can’t say yes for tonight, but let him know you’d be willing to go some other time.
10. You feel blue about no date for the Bunny Hop and then at the eleventh hour Jimmy calls to ask to take you. You’re afraid the late call means you’re second choice.
(a) You save your pride and tell him you have other plans.
(b) You tell him no, if he wants a date with you he’ll have to give you more time than this.
(c) You accept and decide to do your best to make it fun for both of you.
Check Your Answers Here
1. (c) When it’s merely a matter of sportsmanship, it’s nice to let the majority rule. The more frequently and graciously you can give in on issues that really aren’t important, the better your position will be when it’s a question of principle and you need to hold out; as, for instance, if the suggestion is a Sunday movie, and that’s “no” in your family, or if the group wants to go to some place your parents have forbidden for you.
2. (c) or sometimes (d). You have a responsibility to the cousin, but also to your date. He may not come financially prepared to take you both, and anyway it’s courteous to give him some choice. If the occasion requires reservations or tickets in advance or if the cousin doesn’t want to go along, be sure to plan some other good time for her.
3. (b) If he’s worth cultivating, he’ll catch on to the inconvenience angle and appreciate your being a good sport about accepting the changed plans. Next time he asks you it will be all right to pin him down and see if he has anything definite in mind or if he expects you to be a quick-change artist – but be gay about it if you want to keep him coming. You change plans, too – remember.
4. (a) Shame on you if you miss this one. It always pays to mind your manners even if one evening is a bit dull. You don’t want Mary down on you, so try to make things go for everyone.
5. (b) This is hard for any girl to take, and there are times to stand up to a boy as well as times to stand by him. It’s a smart girl who can tell which is which. They like you better if you demand consideration and respect. But there may have been a misunderstanding or an acceptable reason. Give him the benefit of a doubt until you hear his side, then decide whether or not he deserves another chance.
6. (c) If it’s the first time he’s been to your home, the courteous thing is for you to be on hand to make the introductions. You’ll want him to meet your family, of course, but he’ll feel a lot more comfortable if you are right at the door.
7. (a) A bird in the hand is worth something, and you want to go, don’t you? Ted could have made an opportunity to ask you. But either way, make your answer definite; to stall is a dead give-away.
8. (c) Maybe your parents do seem a bit on the strict side to you, but they have good reasons for their attitudes, and they are giving you a chance to prove that you’re growing up, so act your age. He has parents, too, remember, and if he’s the right sort for you he’ll respect you more if your expect yours.
9. (c) The news soon gets around if you break dates, and even if the second fellow does feel cocky for a while about your preference for him, he’ll soon begin to wonder if anyone can depend on you.
10. (c) If your feelings are so sensitive that your main motive is face-saving, you’ll miss a lot of fun. And don’t go in a drab mood just to punish him. If you can be a good sport and have fun together, this might be your chance to move up into first place on his preference list from now on.