Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sweet Sixteen and Never Been - - OK, EW!

Lizzie has a dilemma.

There's a guy in her youth group. A guy who has been socially backward for, well, pretty much for as long as we've known him. Painfully socially awkward. And hygienically too. But he's as book-smart as they come.

Anyway, he's liked her and has made it known loud and clear at youth group for the past several years, even to the point that the kids have started to refer to her as "Tommy's girlfriend" - in a joking way. He told the boys at youth conference that on a scale of 1-10, Lizzie rates an ELEVEN.

Naturally the boys in the ward took it upon themselves to chalk elevens everywhere on our driveway and all over the street the very next night.

She's pretty good natured about it, and as long as everyone else aware that it's just a JOKE, she lives with it. Lizzie is about as compassionate as they come, and she really really doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. (I'm thinking that's how she rated the 11!)

So she caught a rumor the other day. Apparently that now that they are both 16, Tommy is getting ready to ask her on an official date. And not only is he going to ask her, but he's planning something elaborate to ask her. And public. (The intel is sort of spotty on the details of how or what.)

Are you groaning? Because I just distinctly heard someone say "uhhhg". Oh, wait. I think that was me.

What to do, what to do...

She's at a loss. She doesn't really want to go, but of course doesn't want to embarrass anyone, umm, including herself, in front of a large group.

A wise YW leader told her that whatever she does, most certainly the other boys will be watching, and she needs to really think about the reputation she'll be building.

An immature mother told her that non-committal is the only way to respond to any sort of embarrassing public question. Also, that the reputation she'll be building probably should not include any sort of illusion of becoming someone's girlfriend. If even for one night.

I can remember one of my sisters being in a very similar situation when she was in high school. In fact, it was so similar, it's kind of eeerie, come to think of it. She ended up going with this guy to his senior prom so that he could have a date. My beautiful, compassionate, talented sister went with this guy TO HER JUNIOR PROM, so that he could have a special night. She ended up being the hero of the branch where we lived. Really, practically a celebrity.

I'm not quite sure how my mother stood by and watched it, even encouraging her to just be compassionate and go. But I don't know. It's one thing to practice Christlike love, and another thing to risk your entire reputation.

Or maybe it's not.



Amy Peterson said...

The most important reputation she is building is the one to herself. I remember being in s similar situation and when he asked me out, I kindly said, that I would much rather just hang out in a large group of people. He was great with it, and we really became good friends, and every body needs good friends! Good Luck it is so hard to be 16!

Rhonda said...

My sweet, sweet and quiet daughter had the "mercy date" with the Jr. prom last year and my daughter went. She did not know the boy too well at all and he was also a little backwards. So, she had a 3 second moment of compassion that could have been handled better. Like, let me ask my mom and I will call you tonight with an answer....but nooooo... she went and so did her her cell phone. She ended up texting me every half hour to come and get her as it was just way too awkward.

She tried, she really, really tried. He did not speak English very well and that was her first HUGE obstacle.

It is only one night! Anna definitely sent out a certain amount of indifference. Be that unfortunate or is what it is and he never asked her out again.

She is not saddened by this. Maybe I am a complete failure as a Mom, but something tells me there is someone for everyone and it is just as easy to move on and find that "someone" instead of zeroing in on the wrong person.

A simple thank you but no thank you is best...

if that doesn't work there is always bold face lying and saying she has ACT's the next day which happened in this house! I will keep her name private as to protect case she has repented.


Yvonne said...

That is such a tough one. How about a group date? Maybe he just needs some social help and with a group it might be easier for him to learn some skills as he watches others. (Just a thought ; )

The Morris Fam said...

I would have gone, but made it very clear that I really just like having lots and lots and lots of "friends." The poor guy could use experience.

Tori :) said...

There was a guy like that when I turned 16 too. I went on one date with him, but tried to make sure he knew WE WERE JUST FRIENDS. Every girl has to go on at least one charity date. Right?

Help I need a user name! said...

I like Yvonne's idea...accept, but then say something like, "Hey, why don't we invite (Couple A) and (Couple B) and (Couple C) too! They are so much fun, and I know that would make the night really a blast.

See, that way, she can go with him, but he sees that it is a group thing, and maybe, just maybe, he sees a social group in action and gets some ideas from that, like Yvonne said. I don't have teenagers yet, but that is what I'd suggest to mine in this situation. I think. Plus, both your daughter and this guy can dance with others, too, and it's not such a serious thing.

I'd also recruit some couples to "invite" before the big event of the asking.

TheDillon6 said...

I went on a few of those dates myself (minus the public asking). I survived...I never had a repeat date. Since she has prior knowledge of his intent, she has time to formulate her, "You're a special young man and all, but I really don't plan to date any guy seriously until I'm older and they're hotter" speech.

You'll both survive.

I think.

TheDillon6 said...

and oh yeah. I said yes when my husband asked me out on our first date because I had nothing better to do. 18 years later, all is well. :)

Scuttle said...

Strength for youth states

"When you begin dating, go in groups or on double dates. Avoid going on frequent dates with the same person. Make sure your parents meet those you date."

Here is her out. Make sure that when he meets Dad that dad makes him understand that His Baby Girl will be following the strength for youth. ;)
they could totally have a fun group date that they both will remember.

Dave said...

Cheers Scuttle. Great idea. It isn't even technically an 'out', because it is truly a standard that they both have set for them.

Lena said...

Tough one. My mom always made it known to me that she would be my "out" if I ever wanted one. I could blame her for anything. I would probably go but make sure that your daughter knows it's okay to say no too. You don't want her to bend over backwards just so she won't hurt someone's feelings because after pity date comes the pity kiss (ew!) You know there are guys out there who just can't/won't take a hint and will go for it! I love the idea of accepting and then turning it into a group thing if possible.

the MomBabe said...

See, and then there's me and my mom, who was forced on charity dates by my grandma. So she never made me go out with anyone. I'd rather have people think I was rude than think I was dating a certain boy.

In the end, though, it's her decision. And whether she goes on a date or not, she should be kind, but completely uninterested. Keep it light and friendly. Overly friendly. Have her emphasize that he's such a good friend and does he maybe think that so and so likes her?

okay, maybe that's a little harsh.

I guess my point is, who cares? So what if she tells him no? He'll get over it. You don't get everything you want in life.

Melissa said...

I agree with the others about the group date thing. She can tell him that she would love to accept, but that she needs to group date. And my Mom and I had a special phrase set up so that if I called her and used that phrase, she would come up with an excuse for me to come home. I also knew that I could call her at any time and just say "Come get me" and she'd be there faster than a speeding bullet! Good luck!

beckers said...

I don't think there's any harm with her going on a date with this guy (he's harmless, right??). I think she can be gracious and kind, accept the date, invite another couple or two if she wants, and try to enjoy/endure the evening.
However, I think it's super important for her to have a little chat with him sometime soon, indicating that she enjoys his friendship, but does NOT have romantic feelings for him. If she doesn't put it out there plainly (but not rudely, of course), he is likely to misinterpret her kindness/compassion for romantic feelings. Trust me. I've been there. It's so much easier to be blatant with intentions from the beginning.

kristen said...

Double dates at pairing off, right? They're only 16 and this is just a date. They're supposed to be fun and somewhat meaningless at that age anyway. She should probably give him one courtesy date, and if he asks her again, she can kindly tell him she's not interested (or even say her parents don't want her exclusively dating....which you don't, right?!)

Hopefully he won't go totally overboard with the whole asking out, because really, no one needs that embarrassment.

"Vern" said...

This is such a hard one. The mom in me is thinking that the right answer is to “be nice” and suck it up for one night. The feminist in me is thinking, “I hate it when girls are told to be nice. They have a right to say ‘no’, and if we were better at teaching that then maybe Ted Bundy would have had fewer victims.” (sorry to get so dramatic) And then I’m also thinking about being the mom of The Boy, because how heart wrenching is it to see your son be socially awkward? And what if your darling Lizzie could be instrumental in helping him get a clue?

Yes, this is a very crappy dilemma indeed. Uhh...good luck?

mormonhermitmom said...

How about you host a party for the whole group? Let your daughter plan activities, rotating groups around and having refreshments afterwards. Your daughter could be part of the young man's group but still be surrounded by everyone else, and you would know what was going on and could intervene if necessary.

Jenny said...

I hesitate to post because I don't want to offend. That being said I think it is interesting to see how diverse peoples feelings are about this topic. Maybe it would help to look at it from the boys parents perspective. How would it be to have a son with social problems, obviously focused on one kind girl who doesn't look down or make fun of him. (this is not a regular boy we are talking about right?) Wouldn't you hope as a parent that this girl would show kindness and be careful with his feelings?

What would it really cost the girl to go one one date with him? One date in how many hundreds of dates she will propbably have. What would that be possibly 4 hours of her life?

I remember my father saying he often went to dances as a boy. He would gain the courage to ask a girl to dance, and MANY of them would turn him down flat for no reason. I guess maybe my perspective is a little skewed because of my endearing love for my father.

I agree she should take a minute and tell him outright that she thinks he is nice--if that is what she thinks--and that she doesn't like him as a boyfriend. Have her be extra clear before the date. Then when the date comes there is no question about the "kiss". She has already moved that off the table. And if you are going to establish the "group date" as the rule at your house you can throw that in. But make sure your not just throwing that in as an excuse just for him, because people notice those little lies--not just this boy but others around him who are watching---and let me be clear that I know other boys and girls are watching.

I have never been sorry that I said yes and that I went on that date. It was hard for me to do. and the 20 minutes before I was picked up I kept asking myelf why I did it. Then just before he arrived, two of my older brother's friends arrived. They told me they came to see me off and to tell me how cool they thought I was to do it. This stregthened me to go and do. I learned a lot about myself and I learned that some of my friends made doing the right thing easier, and some made it much more difficult. So I guess you could say that it also helped me identify which friends were truly my friends.

As for your daughter. I am so proud of her for being the kind person that allows people to admire, respect and joke with her. Regardless of what she decides to do about the date, tell her I admire love and adore her for being the kind of girl with a soft heart and the desire to show kindness to everyone.

kristi said...

I'm a good sport, and buy into the charity date, but when it comes to "tommy" I just don't know. It's like another level of different (that sounds so harsh, sorry), but maybe I just love lizzie so much I feel your dilemma! Good luck and let me know how it goes!

Heather said...

Good luck Lizzie with whatever you decide.

miggy said...

Tough one.

For ME I think it was best NOT to do the charity dates. I just don't have what it takes to be nice when I'm miserable or when things are totally awkward. I'm not saying it's right, but I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve and even faking it for one night would be tough. Which means he would probably feel much worse on the actual date because it's pretty much impossible for me to hide my true feelings. Some girls are really great at this. I'm not trying to say they're great at being fake, but they're great at truly being kind and charitable in a tough situation. If that's the case, then sure...what's one night?

I am Boymom said...

Wow! I have been in this position and it sucks while you are in it but I can honestly say that I have NEVER regretted being kind to someone who deserved my kindness. However, your daughter does have the right to say no and there is nothing wrong with that either. It's already hard enough for kids to feel like they can say no if they need to, they don't need to be pressured into saying yes just to be nice. So...yeah, dilemma. I think the group thing sounds the best and then she needs to make it clear in the kindest way possible that she just wants to be friends. Hopefully everybody will walk away feeling like they did the right thing and having had a good time.

"Q" said...

If the young man in question has been stalking her for more than a year, it may be in her best interest to confront the young man and say something like..." I am very flattered that you would ask me out on a date, however you have been staring at me and scaring off any would-be dates with your declarations that 'I am your girl" and 'no-one else better look at me' and it has made me feel very uncomfortable. I can not accept you invitation. But I do thank you for the compliment."

Some people, awkward or not simply don't understand boundaries.Trust me I know. He may simply need to know in a kind but firm manner what is socially acceptable.

Janell said...

I actually don't understand why such a date would really be labeled "charity." Usually its the guy who gets tuck paying for everything and planning everything, so how could a girl be so high and mighty to deem it a "charity" to sacrifice a little favor of her company? Then again maybe its like a mini-whoredom where a girl is selling her time so a guy can have her attention and a guy less worth of her attention is a "charity case."

Anyway. Veering off topic.

This is a learning experience for your daughter which, likely being in the public eye (and even if not public the public is expecting something sort of dating attempt from this young man), is going to shape the next few years of her social life. You're just going to have to giver her the best council you're able, and then you just have to support her in her decision.

My council would be - if requested by your daughter - instigate a Mama rule that says that she may only go on group dates (two or more couples) until she's 17 or 18. It gives her the tool that she can say, "Its so kind of you to ask. It would be nice to go out with you on Friday, but, ummmm, my parents have a rules, would it be ok if we go on a group date?" The downside is that that approach would require her to follow through with that rule until the appointed age. (Of course, I think it's always best that teenagers travel in packs anyway.) She also could go with a, "I'm brand new to this dating thing, so would it be alright if we go in a group date?" (Downside being possibly building an expectation on his part that eventually she might go exclusive with him.) Or she can outright refuse that date as is her right. Its truly her choice.

Disclaimer time, because I always do a disclaimer. I was the socially obtuse, anti-make-up, anti-frills teenager who didn't ever have a date in high school. I think I've turned out ok, but I really cannot claim any expertise based on experience from the teenage dating scene. Any advise I might be able to give is based on observation only.

Good luck to your daughter.

Christina said...

I'm sixteen, and my friend was asked to the Prom by someone who she had never met in her life. She felt really bad turning him down, but she didn't even know who he was so she decided that it was better for both of them to spend Prom with a friend instead of adding the Blind Date factor to the already insane amount of stress linked to Prom.

Although this isn't Prom and she does know him, she doesn't need to over stress herself out by going if she doesn't feel comfortable with it.

JustRandi said...

I love how diverse everyone is!!

I also love how I agree with everyone! Double and group dates are definitely the rule in our house anyway. However, this really is a special case where some boundaries need to be set.

I also think it would be easier for her to go out with him for one date, if someone else from the ward would ask her out right before (or after). Just to establish that she is NOT any body's "girl" and no one is going to "punch out anyone else that looks at her".

... sigh....

Where is that Mind Control superpower I've been praying for?

Mother of the Bride said...

Okay, so you are both the YW leader and the mom, right? It took me a minute to figure that out.
I think the whole key to this date being okay is to make sure it is a double or group date. Lizzie is sweet, kind, smart, and beautiful! I can't imagine her ever intentionally hurting someone. Not to be too dramatic, but if she turns Tommy down he will remember for a very long time that the nicest girl at Church wouldn't go out with him. Lizzie on the other hand, might just find some things in him to like. Since single dating in high school is mostly either really weird or really dangerous, follow your instincts to not allow her to date alone yet. Dating in groups is way more fun for everyone. Going with another couple or two that Lizzie is friends with will make her date with Tommy okay. Yes, she will probably have to tell him at some point that she really likes him only as a friend, but he will believe her since they had such a good time on their double/group date.
My first date at BYU was with a boy who might have been considered socially awkward--high, squeeky voice, not very cute. I was so mad at myself for saying yes, and then totally shocked that we had such a great time! It was when I first started to learn that once you get to know someone you can almost always like them.
Of course, this advice only applies to double or group dates! Unfortunately there are scary guys out there that a girl should definitely not say yes to--no matter what age she is.
Good luck, Lizzie! The world won't end if you say no. But unless you are scared to go out with him, it might be nice if you did.

Lauren said...

As much as it hurts me to give this advice, I must because it is right.

She should go on the date.

It will hurt her chances to go on dates with other guys. Trust me. In high school a guy turned down a girl and he never got a date again. He was kinda put on a black list.

My first time in the institute building at my college, I turned down a guy because I wasn't interested in anyone but waiting for my missionary. It went around and I never got asked again. Fine with me...but the principle is correct.

Crystal said...

I'd say she needs to look at why she doesn't want to go. If it's because she doesn't like being around this guy because he gives her the creeps or just makes her uncomfortable, then heck no, she shouldn't go on a date with him. If it's because she's worried that people will think they're an item, I think she ought to go, because from what you've described I don't think people will get that idea. If she does think of him as a friend, there's nothing wrong with going on a date with him.

I do agree that if she wants him to back off, she needs to have a chat with Tommy and let him know in no uncertain terms that she isn't interested in being his girlfriend. And yes, it might hurt his feelings, but that's life and he'll get over it.


Why do things have to be sooooo difficult??!!?

My Papi has already told our girls that he's going with them on their dates and he expects their boyfriend to pay for his dinner, too. That should scare away any potential suitors until they turn 18. :)

Annette Lyon said...

I'm on the side that says she should go. Like Lauren said, it'll cement her reputation as a kind girl who is safe to ask out (message: She's awesome; you can ask her out without your ego getting smooshed) . . . or not (message: nevermind asking her; she only goes out with very specific guys--she's stuck-up).

One date doesn't mean she's stuck in a relationship, but it could impact how all those youth who watched it all happen--and how they view her afterward, for better or worse.

Em-Cat said...

I was 31 when I got married, so I had TONS of opportunities to go on "charity" dates during my extensive dating career...I found out that it's much nicer in the long run to be open and up front. Let the guy know you'll go on this one date with him, but tell him to his face, in very plain terminology that you aren't interested in this being a long term thing, but one date would be fun. It might sting at first, but in the long run, he'll thank you for not stringing him along and you'll thank yourself for not having to go through so much torture.

Anonymous said...

Lizz will do the right thing. And who knows this may be the highlight of this young mans life. Kindness is never forgoten and never regretted.

aubrey said...

i think she should do exactly what your sister did. it sounds like she's the kind of sweet girl who will.

aubrey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nancy Face said...

Wow, I don't know...but somehow I think she'll make an excellent decision. :)

Anonymous said...

I feel a little sad that this young man or his family might read this blog, but mainly the comments.(mercy-dating, charity date, poor boy) It may be hard to see this young man's potential but may I remind you of another young man years ago that had felt socially unacceptable. I quote an article in the February 2002 Ensign by Elder Joe J. Christiansen.

"I think of Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and some of the challenges he faced during his teenage years. His parents were very poor. It was embarrassing to him that early on they did not have indoor bathroom facilities like so many of his friends. He raised pigs, and that didn’t gain him a lot of popularity at high school either. He suffered from severe acne that challenged his confidence and sense of self-worth. He wondered if he would ever be socially acceptable to others."

We know what a great man he became!

East of Eden said...

I have never understood the need to ask out on a date, or to a dance the need for a whole schpeel...I just don't get it.

My sister was also the charity date person of our school too. She was really nice and pretty and all of the boys knew it. One guy asked her to Jr prom and she went, and then again to Sr prom and she said no, because she wanted to go with someone she really enjoyed and wanted to be at the dance with.

I think there is a misconception that you have to say Yes to every date, at least that's what I was taught in YW in my youth. I always hated that -- it took me till I was 26 to be able to say no to a date I didn't want. If she really does not want to go, then all she has to do is say no in a polite way and then you need to back her decision. If she goes out of sorrow for this guy, then she needs to make it very clear that this will be a limited time offer, or that the charity will not be repeated. She also should not make a big deal of answering back, she should just give a verbal yes or no, no prodouction number.

Other than that, I say good luck to you Lizzy, you sound like you will need it!

Salt H2O said...

My best friend, who is beautiful, kind, talented, and hilarious, spent her life going out with socially awkward boys and some of the neatest guys in the world.

She was one of the most popular girls in the school and went on some of the worst dates ever.

Looking back she doesn't regret many of them (except for the guy who locked her in his room and wouldn't let her leave) but she had a nice mix of giving the guy a shot and then letting him know kindly that she really liked him as a person, but wasn't romantically interested in him.

She is by far the coolest person I know.

tricki_nicki said...

I agree with the last comment. I went on some pretty horrible dates in order to not hurt feelings. It didn't hurt my reputation at all - but I learned to tell boys that I would love to go with them as FRIENDS. That way they're not expecting anything, and you can tell other people the same thing. There's nothing wrong with going out with a friend!

(Or you could hastily ask another boy out to the same dance before the other one asks first. That's my evil shallow twin talking.) said...

she sounds very compassionate and sweet. she could pull him aside or call him and talk to him one-on-one and tell him what she does/does not want to do. but if she could get ahold of him before he does anything publicly, all the better. she could go out with him as friends and nothing more, but she can tell him that, too. but she should only hang out with him if she really wants to.

blessings, kathleen :)

PS. and the kind compassionate heart, oh that so rates in my book. sounds like a fine young woman to be proud of. she's making a difference in her world that she influences. puff out your chest proud mama.

Corrine said...

how did this end up?

I always said yes to a first date, because you never know. but if it came around to them asking again and I so didn't want to, I'd let them know I couldn't and wasn't interested in that sort of relationship with them.