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What Relationship Advice would you give your 16-year old self?

By 30/05/2014March 30th, 2017suffering, thoughts
Bloggers accepting Blog Awards

Relationship advice to your 16-year old self

This isn’t a relationship blog, so yes, the question I ask is a bit out of the blue.

But after the recent Santa Barbara shootout (where the killer who had failed to get the attention of girls, stabbed and shot people due to ‘loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires ‘ , one of the responses really caught my attention.

It’s worth the time to read it in its entirety, but I’m quoting here the significant bits:

the overall problem is one of a culture where instead of seeing women as, you know, people, protagonists of their own stories just like we are of ours, men are taught that women are things to “earn,” to “win.” That if we try hard enough and persist long enough, we’ll get the girl in the end. Like life is a video game and women, like money and status, are just part of the reward we get for doing well….

….other people’s bodies and other people’s love are not something that can be taken nor even something that can be earned—they can be given freely, by choice, or not.

I’ve met my share of men who don’t understand rejection. I’ve met girls obsessing over guys who didn’t know said girls existed. I still know kids who’re going through the same struggles. I used to be a nerd myself, always more interested in books than people.

With the years, now, the (entirely subjective) solution to finding the right romantic partner/ husband/ wife is very clear to me, and this is the relationship advice I’d give my 16-year old self:

Find the folks who have the same interests as you, and you’ll never be alone. Make friends with people from the gender you’d like to go out with. If a girl can be friends with some boys, she can always find a boy she can have a relationship with. Same goes for a boy. Learn to respect the person you want a relationship with.

Kindness and compassion are the best qualities to look out for in a person if you’re looking for a long term relationship. Looks fade over time, as does stuff like popularity.


In my WIP I have three adolescents, one of whom has trouble fitting in. I’m wondering what sort of advice his parents/ older self should give him. What would you say to your 16-year old self about finding friends, and lovers?


Today’s Bloggers I recommend visiting!

As part of helping spread the love in my community, I recommend three bloggers on each post, and today’s bloggers are:

Keith Channing: I really enjoy his photographs and the accounts of his life in close communion with nature. Put him on your blogroll, and you won’t regret it.

Rosie Amber: A blogger more supportive of the writing community is hard to find. She uses her blog to support authors of all sorts of books.

Peter Nena: Amazing horror writer, kind friend. Follow him for some spine-chilling stories.

Now, go make friends with these amazing bloggers!

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Even though the guy’s decision to go on a shooting spree was irrational, his feelings of loneliness and sexual frustration certainly weren’t irrational.

    I felt like computer faceplaming and shaking my head in disapproval at whoever wrote “a woman’s affection shouldn’t be treated like something to earn/win in a videogame but should be treated as something to given freely”; Whoever wrote that must have forgotten about the term “marriage expenses”; Reminds me of those people that blame videogames for everything bad; As someone that likes to play videogames, I like to treat marriage as something to earn/win because walking around with a “have love handed to me on a silver platter” mentality isn’t going to fly.

    On another note, my 16 year old self wasn’t the same person as me now but I wish I were more cognizant of drawing the line between toxic/healthy social relationships back then.

  • Dave Sumner says:

    This question has always intrigued me. I think I would say “Dave, as hard as it is to believe this right now in just a few years the people you think are SO important right now will be gone out of your life forever. You will only see one or two of them again. This means that what almost everyone thinks about you doesn’t matter at all in the long run. So, be bold – not timid, be proud – not shy, and for goodness sakes stop being obsessed with what other teenagers think.”

  • julanne says:

    Hang in there, you’ll finish growing up and your life will be your own soon. Just hang in there.

  • Rajlakshmi says:

    It’s such a tragic incident. Although I have no idea what advice I would give, but yours sounds like a good one.

  • uniqusatya says:

    Tough take…Sweet sixteen people say, but its hard to maintain the sweetness without turning it to sour.Hope you heard about the “Aarushi Talwar case” .I am still trying to figure out, what best could have been done for that situation not to turn so bad where the entire family suffered for what happened.

  • W. K. Tucker says:

    I think you said it well. The only thing I might add is to know you are a worthy person and don’t need a male in your life to define you.

  • “take your time, think a lot, think of everything you got …” tony

  • I’d make myself take a poll of married adults and ask the question – Did you marry or have a meaningful relationship with the person you were ‘infatuated’ with when you were 16. I’d put the results on a piece of laminated card stock and tuck it away in my pocket.

  • I can only tell her: “You are right, so don’t worry about it. Just try to enjoy life more. What will happen will happen; what’s not meant to be, look at it as a learning experience. Do not go hurting people for your own benefit.”

  • jennicurry says:

    My advice is to find someone you enjoy spending time with and date them until you no longer enjoy their company, then leave them. Sounds harsh, but I ended up marrying the last guy I applied this theory to! Apparently, I never got sick of his company. It is also useful for teenagers as it stops the melodramatic obsessions.

  • Krishna Dev says:

    Hari Om!

    What I’ve learned over the years is that patience is a great virtue. Not to run after things but to make yourself worthy of it.

  • Hobbie DeHoy says:

    “You don’t need to be in a romantic relationship to be a happy person.” I think so many young people feel so urgent about getting the attention of that certain person, and believe they can’t be happy if they don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend. Really, romance is an “extra” and not essential.

  • Really well written and plenty of thoughts to be provoked. I wonder now what I’ll tell my teenage son next time we have a heart-to-heart about affairs of them …

  • FullEmpty says:

    Thank you for an honest and thought-provoking blog. Looking forward to reading more of your work 🙂

  • To my sixteen-years-old self I would say that girls aren’t as scary as you think, and most of the horror stories you are told by the worldly wise, confident, outgoing boys at your single-sex grammar school are not true.
    To you, Damyanti, I would say thank you for your extreme generosity – I’m sure I don’t deserve the praise you have lavished on me, but I really do appreciate it.

  • Claire Duffy says:

    I agree with your advice – great post! I think that the inverse can affect girls too – I can remember as a teenager thinking in terms of hoping to be ‘picked’ by a boy rather than finding one I wanted to be with, so I think that’s the advice I’d give sixteen year old me: you’re not a bloody flower!

  • I’ve always thought this an interesting question and one that is VERY hard to answer since everyone is different and I believe every answer would therefore have to be different, in a way, as well. I think everyone can come up with reasons why communication or finding people one relates to, or with, is hard. I can’t say I was one of the “geeks” but on the other hand, I had a pretty face that people didn’t see past. They didn’t care to see past what they saw or thought they saw to find out who I was. Also, other girls would snub me because they perceived me as a threat. Made it hard to have solid friends of any kind and so I learned to hide and to try to be what others thought they saw in me. What would I say to a 16 year old now? I think I would agree with you in finding people who have your same interests. But also, to try to remember that no matter how much you think you know, you will always have more to learn. No matter how alone you feel right now, this too shall pass. Try to remember to keep your heart and mind open, protected yes, but open to learning. There is always more to learn and that learning will keep you moving and growing and help keep the lonely demons at bay…

    • Sorry! Just realized the comment was what would you advise to your own 16 year old self, and yet I would say the same thing… I didn’t think I was worthy at that time, that my own opinion counted as much as anyone’s… Learning is so very important, not just book learning but “people” learning… which I think is THE most important learning and one not given enough attention.

  • It is very disturbing to see what happened there. Added with gun culture prevalent in some parts of the world, the comment aptly talks about the mentality driving people crazy. Respect for the other party is cornerstone for any relationship, be it with books or human beings or nature or anything else..

  • Tina Downey says:

    I’d tell her to stay away from men who play golf…seriously. Two bad relationships ;-)]
    Tina @ Life is Good
    On the Open Road! @ Join us for the 4th Annual Post-Challenge Road Trip!

  • ” Find the folks who have the same interests as you, and you’ll never be alone. ”

    I love this phrase. Absolutely adore it.

    I think it also takes courage to ask and explore the interests that can’t be seen on the surface of budding friendships.

  • M-R says:

    The gap is far too wide for me, now … But you know, I doubt that I could’ve answered this even forty years ago. Advice is something for experts: part of my problem is that I’ve never achieved expertness at bloody anything ! – just fairly good at several things, you know ?

  • TGR Worzel says:

    What relationship advice would I give my 16 year old self….?

    I honestly don’t know the answer to that one.
    I still haven’t worked it out and I’m 53 now…!

  • sheketechad says:

    Learn to differentiate between desire (physical) and love (actionable choice); explore and know your own value and develop it; temper your strengths and shore up your weaknesses to find inner balance; and lastly, you, the person, are the sum of all parts, not just the parts the boys are attracted to.

  • I would say to my 16 yr old self to just relax and chill out, be yourself around boys. It’s easier said than done though – at 16 I was really shy around boys and nervous. Then again I should imagine that boys at that age are pretty shy around girls too.

    What you said about respecting other people is key I think. If you truly care about someone, you’re going to want to treat them well – it’s obvious. Or it should be anyway. 🙂

  • “Learn to be friends with girls before you try to date them. Just hang out. Love isn’t what it looks like on TV. You’ll learn to be yourself, to respect yourself and respect her. You’ll learn what kinds of girls you like and what kinds you don’t. I could say more, but this is what it boils down to.”

  • mad_cat says:

    I myself was deeply depressed and ignored by everyone (not just girls) and it was a long time before I found happiness. If to talk to my 16yo self, I would lay it on straight.

    1. The idea of a high school romance lasting for ages is a myth (rare that it happens)
    2. Most people who claim to have sex haven’t actually had sex
    3. Really look at those who claim to have had sex, are you really attracted to them? Really?
    4. You have to become a more complete person for people to be attracted to you
    5. People don’t like others to be dependent upon them for happiness, you need to find your own happiness.
    6. It does seem the hot girl does go for the bad boy. Don’t betray who you are for popularity.
    7. The world is filled with shallow people.
    8. The more you pursue people who don’t appreciate who you are, the more you will hate yourself
    9. Love happens by accident
    10. There is nothing wrong with losing your virginity after high school.
    11. Don’t be so hung up on having a soul mate for your first time. It should be special, but sex should also be fun.
    12. You will have a lot of casual dates and flings before you establish a solid relationship… enjoy it while it lasts.
    13. Sometimes people are in your life for a short time. Don’t be sad by their leaving, be happy they were in your life when they were.
    14. Celebrate the success of others.
    15. Don’t have sex with a drunk girl.
    16. Be with people you want to be with.
    17. Don’t have a relationship with someone solely on the basis that they are interested in you.
    18. Don’t be nice expecting that people will be in debt to you and repay you later.
    19. Don’t be nice to a girl thinking if you are the guy she desires, she’ll fall in love with you.
    20. Even if they don’t mean to, people will use you for your generosity. Be mindful on who you help.
    21. Stay out of other peoples relationship problems.
    22. Don’t give advice unless people ask for it.
    23. Don’t get married until you feel you are ready.
    24. Don’t do things because people/society expect you to.
    25. Don’t just say you’re open minded, be open minded.
    26. Don’t be hung up on numbers… they ultimately mean nothing.
    27. Don’t judge a person by their past, see them for who they are now.
    28. Everyone feels lonely at one time or another.
    29. Being overly sarcastic pushes people away.
    30. Smile when you don’t feel like it. Fake it if you have to.
    31. Focus on having a good future. Work hard, study hard, get into a good school, get a great job.
    32. It’s not about having money, it’s about what you do with it.
    33. Your life may not have such a happy beginning, but that doesn’t make you who you are. It is the rest of your life, who you choose to be.
    34. Be nice because you want to be, not because you think it scores you points.
    35. Sometimes, you have to be a jerk to help people.

    OK, I’ll stop. Only meant to do 5. As you can see, I’ve learned a lot of life lessons since being a teenager. I wish I knew this stuff back then. I would have focused on my studies and work on overcoming my baggage and wait for love to find me.

  • It’s OK to make friends with boys. An older girl told me I’d never get a boyfriend if I treated them like brothers, but life is more comfortable with friends as well as lovers.

  • I would tell her to “not settle”. Don’t just settle for any relationship, make sure it is a relationship deserving of your time and attention, if it isn’t spend all that energy nurturing yourself and learning to know what it is that you want from a relationship.

  • lexacain says:

    Despite what the quoted response to the SB murders says, there are plenty of girls who use their looks as an advertisement for a man, particularly popular girls and sorority girls who don’t want to pursue a career. They tan, diet, exercise, and primp with the goal in mind that they must be “won” or “earned” by the richest or most powerful man. (Occasionally, the handsomest man.) With the media’s constant focus on looks, sex, youth, and fashion, it’s easy to see where the shallowness comes from. Being kind, generous, or responsible isn’t sexy, so except for the rare ‘hero story,’ the spotlight is on the “beautiful people.”

    For my 16-yr-old self, I’d use my experience of 50+ years, three marriages, a number of live-ins and boyfriends, plus countless unhappy female friends to say: Men are takers. They don’t come around to help you or make your life easier or better. They’ll play that game in the beginning but there’s always an ulterior motive. They want sex, or support for their fragile egos, or money, or a housekeeper. The division of labor will never be fair. Ever. So never give them money, make decisions or change jobs or homes based on what they want, sacrifice anything they’d never dream of sacrificing, or do anything that would give up your power. You are in charge of loving and protecting you. Don’t trust anyone else to do it for you. You’ll be disappointed at best, victimized at worst.

  • Arlee Bird says:

    I’d say not to stress too much. Enjoy life and don’t worry about finding the right partner. You’ll find that person when the right time comes so in the meantime get things done and don’t wallow in self pity.

    Oh, and also, enjoy your single life while you have it.

    What is the best short story ever written?
    Tossing It Out

  • If it’s meant to be, it will be. Don’t stress over it!!!

  • TaMara says:

    I had so much going through my head after reading your post that I wrote my own response to it. 🙂 –

  • sconst71 says:

    Stick to your guns. The right person will eventually come along and fit into your life. Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up.

  • Beth Caplin says:

    Never compromise your values for a boy. Ever.

  • mgrace58 says:

    My experience with fitting in seemed natural to me. I was on my high school’s volley ball team so I hung out with that group of girls a lot; however, being the nerd that I was and still am I also hung out with the science boys after school for sci projects and just for whatever. I felt very accepted in both cliques and I honestly was just being myself. So, I guess don’t be afraid to be who you are, regardless if you are judged for it. I know I was, and unfortunately we get judged for being different, but realize that you are different and own that. It’s what makes you uniquely you. And you are worth it. <3
    I love you blog, and FYI I nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

  • Agree with you on this one. There many men like that and rejection hurts their ego in the way they’ve brought up-sadly. As u say, let’s find happiness within the self, love freely and disconnect at times-it helps:)

  • ccyager says:

    I like your suggestions quite a lot, Damyanti. We do not emphasize enough that “the other” is a human being like us and have insecurities, doubts, strengths and flaws as we do. I think encouraging kids to cultivate common interests is so important, it can’t be stated often enough. When I was 16, yes, we were all boy crazy, but we socialized mostly in coed groups, and I was involved in a lot of interests and sports that included guys. I had guy friends as well as girl friends. I would also say to my 16 year old self, again, that being able to talk with the other person is also important. If he’s not interested in listening to me, then he’s not interested in me as a person. I want people — male and female — in my life who are interested in me as a person and who respect me as a person. Kids are going to experiment no matter what adults say, and I think it’s important to acknowledge that and to say to the kids that when they try new things, be it kissing or more, that it is ALWAYS by mutual consent and respect.

    The case of Elliot Rodger is both horrifying and extremely sad. I think of his parents and I can imagine them being in agony for all the lives lost and injured as well as the loss of their child. They tried so hard to intervene to save him and get him help. I think the silver lining in all this is that police departments in the country are examining their procedures and decision-making involved with well being checks.


  • I’d remind 16 year old Katie that she is not defined by the fact that she has a boyfriend, or by the fact that she doesn’t. I’d also tell her that being desired by someone is not the same as being valued by someone. Great post; thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • Finley Jayne says:

    My husband and I were talking about what happened the other day, and it boggles our mind his ‘reasons’. I went on my first date when I was 19 (he was 17), we ended up dating for four years, were engaged for 1 year (so I could focus on college before we got married), and we both were the big V. on our wedding night. We’ve now been married for over 11 years, have three kids, and we’re still best friends. I have absolutely no regrets about how we did things, and if I had to tell my 16 yr old self anything, it would be to do exactly what she was doing-focus on friendships, school, family and just being young and free 🙂 Time will come soon enough to grow up and focus on other things!

  • aliabbasali says:

    The security guard will see you. Put it back.

  • Peter Nena says:

    Thank you for the mention, Damyanti. Honoured. Big-headed. Jolly.
    Have a lovely weekend, my dear. Thanks.

  • Peter Nena says:

    That 16 year old guy. He was more into books than anything else. “Academic wizard,” teachers called him. Read more books per year than met people. Still does.
    But to any 16 year old, I would say: If you’re going to live up to 100, you have 84 more years to go. Take your time. There will be love galore.

  • Rosie Amber says:

    Firstly, Thanks for the shout out. I’d promote common sense, safety, kindness, being able to listen and listening to your gut instincts too.

    • Damyanti says:

      You’re very welcome. Listen to your instincts is excellent advice– if only we all did that all the time.

  • rolltidejen says:

    I never tried fitting in when I was younger, but I had friends with whom I shared common interests and I never once gave in to peer pressure and couldn’t understand why others did (we had sororities and fraternities at my high school and I didn’t get why people would allow themselves to be humiliated by people who were supposed to be their so-called “friends” during rush week). I was who I was, and I was OK with that: A tomboy who more often than not intimidated boys … lol. I had a few crushes and dated a few people, but the whole sex/relationship thing didn’t come into play until I was in my 20s. My biological father offered to have me put on birth control when I was 16 and I looked at him like he was crazy. But everyone is different.

  • I’d tell myself–you might think her breaking up with you is like a living hell, but she’ll be your Facebook friend when your’re 43.

  • Grace says:

    To be kind and friendly to all, even those that irritate. To stand tall and show courage. To speak up when necessary. To have patience, this is just the beginning of a beautiful life and there is more good to come.

  • Sammy D. says:

    I wish I’d known how unformed I was at that age, and how unformed were my peers. I might have felt less urgency to “be someone” if I’d realized that everyone was just learning their own identity.

  • lnahay says:

    Wow. I would tell myself to slow down. Step back and take a breath. OFTEN. Slow down, enjoy life. I was in a such a hurry to run away, it took me a good long time to catch up to myself. I was a work horse. I didn’t stop moving, working, going to school. I wish I had played more. Don’t be afraid of good people. Recognize and defend your self-worth. And dammit, tell him yes! I said no, and have regretted it ever since. At 16, I felt how young I was, and didn’t want to get involved in something that could have become permanent. Scared the crap out of me. But I’d tell myself that it’s ok. Whether or not it lasted, it would have been ok to try. Trust your instincts and your intuition. Always. They were always right.

  • I’d tell my 16-year-old self that life gets better even if it means having more responsibilities. I was really emotional at that age and there were times when my feelings got the best of me.
    I would get home, close the door, and cry when things didn’t work out exactly the way I wanted, including the guys I used to hang out with.

    At 16 one doesn’t have a clear, mature idea of what it means to be in a relationship, much less all the necessary tools to get to know someone well enough to say “I love you” beyond dating and flirting. 16 is way too young. I don’t regret my failures in that particular aspect, in fact, I’m glad I learned from them.
    I’m more comfortable dating now in my 20s. My teen years were good, but sometimes I was a bit of a train wreck.

    I differ (a little) on having the same interests. It helps in socializing, but it’s not set in stone. Perhaps it’s just me and my own experience, but I think teenagers should be encouraged to have some variety in their lives and among their peers. Not everyone has to be similar to one another. I think real respect is learned and *earned* by the way we deal with our differences rather than what we may have in common.

  • Hendry says:

    Well, I would tell my 16-year-old self to :
    1) Slow down a little bit and learn how to be patience, it will help in the long run.
    2) Love comes in many different forms, the love from your friends, the love from your partner, the love from your parents, siblings, etc.
    3) Learn to let go and move on. There are things in the world, no matter how hard you try, how much effort you pushed, how much time you have invested, will not work out.

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’ll make mistakes. Try not to do permanent damage.

  • Dalo 2013 says:

    I’d say continue to be open and create friendships with everyone…coming from a small town, this was a bit easy. 16 is such a young age, the world/people have so much to offer.

  • metaphora says:

    I’ll simply tell to my 16 year old me: You are still young and a lot of opportunities will come your way. People always come and go. Being hurt and left is part of life. But, those who are genuine and real will never leave you behind and if you meet those people, you’ll surely know. Right now. Enjoy your youth. Live life to the fullest!

  • philsblog01 says:

    I would say don’t worry about it. You will find who you should if you want to.

  • That age was right before I had my major life changing events/decision. Looking back I would tell myself that it’s ok to do your own thing. Trust your own judgement. Not every adult in your life has your best interest at heart nor are they always right. And last but not least you are much prettier, smarter and capable than you think. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.

    • Damyanti says:

      Those are such excellent pieces of advice– I wish we as youngsters had listened to some of the good advice that came our way– but at that age it was so hard to know what’s good for you.

  • says:

    I would tell myself that my self-worth should not be based on what guy likes or doesn’t like me. I would tell myself to concentrate on doing well in school. I would tell myself to stop worrying about my lack of popularity and enjoy being young and healthy.

    • Damyanti says:

      Peer pressure is a dangerous thing, and its is SO hard to resist the urge to do things for the approval of peers at that age.

  • Dan Antion says:

    I would tell my self to wait until I was out of an artificial environment like high school or college. Even if you meet someone there, it’s so hard to know how you will get along when the situation changes. I would also remind myself of my value. 16 is a difficult age to realize that you are worth something without confirmation from your peers but it’s essential to realize that fact.

  • Nikki says:

    I was always the “friend” in high school. Guys didn’t see me as much more. I was a great student, involved in a lot of activities and already working more than part-time at a movie theater (which turned into my career, I am 34 and still in the business!). I would honestly tell myself to concentrate even more on grades so I could have gone to a different college, focus on my friends and not worry about the boy I had a crush on for two years. He turned out boring and I am anything but!

  • davidprosser says:

    If I could advise mysself I’d say If you don’t like yourself first you’ll always have problems liking others. Don’t give your heart too easily and certainly don’t expect others to move at the same speed. At 16 you need to move slowly and find your way in life and love.
    Ha, can you tell I was a late bloomer, so late I doubted I’d get there?
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    • Damyanti says:

      At 16 you need to move slowly and find your way in life and love.

      yes, yes, and yes. So many of us would have benefited if we’d kept this in mind. I think the late bloomers are the best kind– they don’t get destroyed by sudden frostbites– the summer of youth is full of those.

  • Willy Nilly says:

    What would I tell my 16 year old self? Listen carefully to the girls you interact with. Focus on how to be a compassionate friend and avoid thinking of girls as just a means to cure hormone induced love/lust sickness. I was a teen in a very different era and so it was easy to fall into the trap of trying to find a mate for a support role instead of a partnership. The greatest lessons I ever learned about how to treat girls was from those girls my age that I was interested in, that were honest and forthright with where their boundaries were drawn. I respected that and 43 years later, I know their names, I see their faces, I remember their words. Most rewarding of all, some are still friends.

    • Damyanti says:

      You’re the kind of guy I’d love to have for a friend in real life. Men in my country are beginning to catch up with this view of looking at women, but it will take time.

      • Willy Nilly says:

        Damyanti, I greatly appreciate your complement. Yes, It is a slow process and many things must undergo change. I believe the answer starts with young sons of today. If they learn the lesson of respect now, much can be achieved later.

  • Wow, what wouldn’t I say? I think the first and most major for me would be to love myself first. If I had loved myself, I would have recognized all my toxic relationships for what they were, but I assumed I needed them. I didn’t think I deserved any better, because I had no confidence or love for myself. Also, especially as a girl, you don’t owe anybody anything. It is your body and your choices. It doesn’t matter if he takes you out, or you flirted, or you’re wearing short shorts. I wish I had known that, and had the courage to stand up to all the jerk guys I dated. Oh, and don’t pick jerk guys in the first place, no matter how cute, even if they’re posing as nice ones. They’re pretty good at that. 🙂

    • Damyanti says:

      I think there’s something in that reformed-rake kind of romance that I absolutely detest. Sweet girl falls for bad boy and bad boy changes in love– sigh. I’ve seen so many girls weep cos they dated jerks, and they never stopped, they went on to marry jerks. I think movies and fiction do a lot to perpetuate this relationship myth: those romances where a ‘dominant’ man tells a woman she’ll ‘like it’ even she clearly says no! Boils my blood.

      I think your advice of ‘love yourself first’ is so dead on, and so important. Girls (and boys) are always told they’re not enough– not good looking enough, not popular enough, not rich enough– whereas all that really matters is that they find satisfaction and fulfillment in their interests.

      If we love and respect ourselves, we would love and respect others, and the world wouldn’t be such a twisted place. I doubt any 16-year old is reading these excellent comments from all of you though 🙂

  • At sixteen, you don’t necessarily realize there are more important things in the world. But I’d tell any teenager not to invest too much time and energy caring whether an specific person likes them. Simply hang out with the individuals who make you happy and avoid those who don’t.

    • Damyanti says:

      Absolutely. We teach kids to earn money– ‘to do well’– but we don’t teach them how to be their best, happiest selves, and that this quality of being happy in themselves will attract the right kind of friends, and romantic partners.

  • kagendo says:

    I’d tell her- build your confidence and feel comfortable in your own skin. That way you can focus your energy on finding friends who will see you as you are and find something great in that.

  • ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) says:

    While I don’t necessarily have advice for my 16-yr old self (though I’d like to tell my 17-yr old self to date that one guy after all. I really liked him as a friend and I kind of wish I’d seen where it could have gone), I am a mother to an almost 15-yr old and I will tell him much like your advice says — also be with someone you can be yourself with – or with someone you feel like brings out your best or better self. If “friends” put down those that make you feel comfortable or your better self, then maybe it’s okay to let those “friends” go. (Hard, but definitely okay.) Always always respect your partner’s boundaries. No or stop always means no/stop, even when said in laughter.

  • put yourself first, and stop worrying about what everyone things. in fact, I’d tell my 41-year-old self that too

  • That’s why I feel fortunate I did find someone who shared my interests and was my best friend.
    What would I tell my sixteen-year-old self? It’s not about you, dude – it’s about her.

  • Cat Amesbury says:

    I love your list and think your points are true at any age. My advice to myself (and maybe your adolescent character) would be more specific and probably much less useful. 🙂

    I would tell myself:
    1) It’s okay not to understand everything and everybody. The important thing is to respect yourself and the people you interact with.
    2) It’s okay not to want to spend time with people. Sometimes people just aren’t that compatible as friends or lovers and you don’t have to force yourself to build something that doesn’t work for either of you. See Number One about respect.
    3) You’re still learning and the people around you are learning too. Empathy is one of the greatest gifts you can give not only the people around you, but yourself.
    4) To be honest, you are going to ignore this advice because you are running fourteen extracurricular activities and trying to find ways to pay for university and won’t even think about this for another two or three years. That’s okay too.

    • Damyanti says:

      Each of your points is a gem, and in fact, I’m going to emphasize your third point in my character’s life. Brilliant, brilliant advice.

  • Goodness! What a long way back! That was in 1966. Can I remember that far back?

  • Shane Wilson says:

    This is an interesting question made more interesting by those recent and terrible events in California. Young Shane did things the right way for the most part. He loved hard, but he always respected the boundaries that people set up. I think I was taught very early not to depend on material items, that material items aren’t as important as people, and so I never saw people as material items. I think I would tell my16 year old self to stick with that. It will treat him well in the long run.

    • Damyanti says:

      Not seeing people as material items is the single most important lesson any parent can give their offspring. I’m sure young Shane did things the right way– and if he slipped up, well, we all make some mistakes, and learn from them :).

  • Holly Geely says:

    I’d just tell her to slow down, there’s no need to find true love at 16!