The social circles of high school

In high school there are all kinds of social circles. Some are more popular than others, some attract more people, and others are very exclusive. The social circles of high school play a large role in many teen’s lives. Where they are in the hierarchy of sociality matters. How many circles they can openly associate with is critical. Which circles they avoid is part of their identity. The following is a look at some of the social circles of high school:

Popularity:

This is the social circle most people are the most familiar. People with the same popularity level tend to stick together. The ultra-populars, nick named the “plastics” in a popular movie, stick together and associate very little in other groups. You have the regular levels of popularity, the people who are known and know people, but are not exactly popular. You then have the “un-populars.” These are the people who tend to be considered strange, weird, etc. often it is people who play magic games, or dress up like medieval warriors, or who do theater, or are nerdy.

Commonality:

The next social circle is that of common interests. A lot of your “group” is going to be determined by the things you have in common. For example, if you are in the running for valedictorian you may hang out with the other people in the running, as you have common academic interests. A lot of time, the commonality circle goes hand in hand with the popularity circle. Things that you have in common may characterize you as cool, nerdy, funny, fun, etc. The popular group may have money, partying, etc. in common. The nerdy group may have World of Warcraft, and Sudoku in common.

Sports:

This is a social circle that often crosses the boundary lines of other social circles. If you do a sport you typically have friendships within the team you are a part of, and some of those people may fall in the really popular groups, while others may be average, or nerdy. Sports usually require you to put your personal differences aside and just be friends.

Religion:

Often times in school social circles are formed by your personal values. People who value the same things in life often congregate together. This is why religion tends to create social circles. Within the same religion, you typically hold the same values and beliefs. So, all of the mormon kids in a predominantly non-mormon community might hang out together. All of the Jewish kids may sit together at lunch, or the Catholics, etc. In addition to holding similar values, you spend time with each other outside of school attending worship services, in youth programs, etc.

History:

Sometimes friendships and social circles are formed because of your family history or standing in the town. The kids the grew up next to each other will be in the same social circle at times simply because of their history of friendship and proximity to one another.

How many friends should you have as a teen?

As a teenager, friends are a big part of your life. They are constantly around you, with you, on the phone with you, or at the very least in your thoughts. The fact is, a huge majority of a teen’s life has to do with their social interactions. So, because friends are a big part of the life of a teen, it begs the question, how many friends should you have?

The answer to this question really depends on who you are, how many relationships you can handle without problem, and the kind of friendships you want to have, close, or just lose? The following are some tips for determining how many friends you should have as a teen:

Tip one: Quality is key. The teen years require a lot of emotional support from friends, so it is important to find friends that are good friends, people you can trust, lean on for support, and rely on when in need. Thus, with friends, especially as a teen, it’s quality over quantity that should matter to you. Most teens find that one or two best friends is enough, and then a group of acquaintances to hang out with helps keep things interesting and fun.

Tip two: Influence is important to consider. You are a teenager, there is a lot of drama in your life. You are experiencing hormones, make decisions about school, etc. that affect your future, and are developing the attributes and characteristics that are likely to define you the rest of your life. Thus, you want to choose friends that will help you to become the person you want to be. If you have too many friends, the pressure to be so many different things grows. The fact is that you do not want to introduce more influences for who you are going to grow to be than is necessary. So, having a few select friends that inspire you to be the kind of person you want to be is best.

Tip three: What is your personality like? This is going to influence how many friends you should have as a teen. If you are super outgoing, you can probably handle more friends than someone who is shy. The fact is you have to have the energy and personality to juggle friendships, bring people together that may not have connected without you, etc. The more outgoing you are, the more friends you can have, but not that you necessarily should have.

Tip four: How true of friends do you want to have? Having a friendship takes work, time, and effort. Friendships do not last if you do not talk, hang out, and confide in one another. So, having too many friends means having no real friends. So, what kind of friendships do you want? For better friendships, have fewer friends.

Finding friends in unexpected places

As a teenager, friends, and the drama attached can sometimes be a little overwhelming. Friends change, life progresses, you change, etc. Sometimes friends, and the work it takes to make friends can seem like more hassle than it is worth.

Why you should have friends:

As a teenager life can be full of changes, friends help you stay sane, and often act as an anchor during that hectic time. They can guide and direct you, support you, and be someone to have fun with. Without friends, life would be boring, lonely and much too school focuses. So, having some friends is always wise, but this does not mean you need a million friends. A few close friends are often better than twenty okay friends.

Who your friends are:

Friends is a term that many teenagers use liberally. However, when it comes to finding friends in unexpected places, it is important to understand what it means to be a friend. A friend is not someone who is going to back-stab you, gossip about you, or treat you unkindly. In fact, they are the opposite. A friend is going to be there for you when you need them. They are going to be trustworthy, and someone who protects your secrets. Friends are sensitive to your feelings, and would never intentionally hurt you.

So, when talking about finding friends in unexpected places, it is important to recognize this is not about finding acquaintances, or people to hang out with, but friends.

Tips for finding friends in unexpected places:

Never prejudge people. You never know when someone you run into has the potential to be a close friend. If you base your friend selection off clothes, hair, social status, etc. yours will be a lonely life.

Be open to making friendships. Sometimes you miss signals given by people that want to be friends because you have your exclusive group. The fact is, you should always be willing to make new friends, especially if they will be true friends.

Be approachable. You will not find friends in unexpected places if you are a snob, if you do not allow people to approach you. If you are short with people, rude, or stand-offish, no one is going to take the risk to be your friend who you wouldn’t normally befriend. So, be open and inviting.

Examples of unexpected places:

It is amazing where you can find friends. For example, you may get a job, and initially think that the people you work with are all weird. However, you may find you have more in common than you think, and that they end up being some of your favorite people to spend time with. The following are a few of the unexpected places that as a teen you can find friends:

  1. Your job. If you want to make any money and have fun during the time at work, get to know the people you work with.
  2. Your church. You already have a common interest, and somewhere you can spend time together on a regular basis.
  3. Your classes. You may not have classes with your existing friends, but you will be spending an hour a day with the people in your classes, you might as well search out some friendships
  4. In your locker section. You visit your locker regularly, you might as well spark up a conversation and get to know the others who locker in your section.
  5. Your bus. You live close, and you are going to have to be together for at least a few minutes each day, talk and get to know each other.

Do platonic friendships work for teens?

As a teenager you interact with people of the same gender, and people of the opposite gender. This can be fun and exciting, but it can also be problematic, especially when you do not have the same level of feelings for someone as they have for you. The following is a look at whether or not platonic friendships really work for teens:

What is a platonic friendship?

A platonic friendship means a friendship between members of the opposite sex that is strictly friendly. In essence it is a way of saying that a boy and girl are friends and that there are no romantic feelings involved whatsoever. Many people try for platonic friendships, and they want them to work, but that does not mean that they do work.

Do they actually work?

This is the question for the ages, and the reason it is still a question is because there is not way to truly know if anyone has ever been successful at having a strictly platonic friendship. Some people claim that their feelings are purely friendship motivated, but there is no way to know the truth, especially when people often bury it. It seems however, that in most cases, one or the other parties harbors some sort of deeper feelings for the other member, making it not really a platonic friendship, but a friendship fueled by unrequited love.

So, what happens?

Typically if a boy and a girl are friends, and neither are homosexual, one or the other has hidden feelings of some kind for the other. Usually they will try to convince themselves that they are just friends, and that friendship is all they want, but eventually it will become too much for one or the other, and the problem will come to a head, and the two will either start dating, or they will see a strain in their relationship, or and end of the friendship.

How can you try and get them to work?

Just because history shows that platonic friendships are rare, and hardly ever last test of time does not mean you should not strive to be friends with people of the opposite gender. Here are a few tips for how to try and get them to work:

  1. State your objectives clearly. When you become friends with someone you have to know, and they have to know if you have any sort of feelings beyond friendship. You have to be honest with yourself. “I like you, and I know the feelings are not returned, so I would rather be friends than nothing.” Or “I only have friendly feelings for you, and will not return deeper affection.” That puts it out there.
  2. Never send mixed signals. One of the reasons platonic friendships rarely work is that at some point a mixed signal is sent. Someone initiates a cuddle during a movie, or hugs too tightly, or calls too often, etc. If you are going to be “just friends” then be that. Don’t hold hands, don’t cuddle, etc.
  3. Develop friendship. Platonic friendships only last if there is a true base of a friendship. So, trust each other, share secrets, spend time together, have fun together, and do it without the flirting and mechanisms of dating.

Teen pregnancy

One of the risks of having sex as a teenager is that of teen pregnancy. The following is a look at some of the facts about teen pregnancy:

The realities of teen pregnancy:

While it may initially be exciting and even something to look forward to, the reality is that most people do not have children in their teen years for good reasons.

School:

You are in school. You must decide what you are going to do. If you stay in school, you will likely undergo the ridicule of peers. If you drop out you stunt your ability for economic growth. If you decide to do home school or something similar you have to be motivated.

Cost:

You have to consider the expense. Having a baby is very expensive. In addition to the cost of pregnancy check-ups, and the birth, hospital stay, etc. you have to get clothes, diapers, and other items for the baby. You also have to get immunizations, etc. The costs add up fast, and will be overwhelming to someone without a job or with a job that is minimum wage. It can be overwhelming to couples with real careers.

Long term:

Will you and your partner stay together? Will you break up? Who will the baby live with? Where will you live? Are your parents going to let you stay with them? Are you going to need to get a job? Are you going to be able to find a sitter for your baby when you are in school, at work, etc.?

The realities of teen pregnancy are simple, it is not like having a toy, or a doll, it is a person who has to be fed, changed, bathed, and cared for. You can’t leave them home so you can go out with your friends. You can’t hope everything will just work out. You have to provide for their needs, and have a plan. In other words, you have to grow up and be responsible. This is not easy, and it isn’t something that is natural for a teen, who is primarily a selfish creature, to do.

Where to get help: If you are a teen and you get pregnant, your first place to get help should be your parents. They may be angry, but in the end they should come around and support you. The next place you can turn is your church or other groups you are affiliated with. You can also get help from places like Planned Parenthood, and other agencies set up to help teens with unwanted pregnancies.

Your options: As a teen who gets pregnant you are given options, you can abort, place for adoption, or keep your baby yourself. All of these options are difficult to comprehend and even more difficult to grasp the long term consequences of. Initially most teens lean toward keeping their baby, but emotions can cloud your judgment. So, talk with an adult who has your best interest in mind. Consider your values. Consider others. Abortion is something that goes against many people’s religious and personal beliefs, but they do not want to keep the baby either. Adoption is a wonderful option as it gives other people a chance to have babies when their bodies limit them from being able to do so.

How to prevent unplanned pregnancy: Abstinence is the best way to prevent unplanned pregnancy. If you are not going to do that, then talk to an adult and get yourself on birth control. They are not full proof, but they will lessen your chances of an unplanned pregnancy.

Losing your virginity

As teenagers, the thought of losing your virginity is probably on your mind a lot. People talk about it constantly, and you can’t help but be curious about it. The following is a look at losing your virginity.

What it means to lose your virginity:

Put simply it means to have sex for the first time. However, in more technical terms, for a girl it means breaching the hymen. This means it can be done by means other than intercourse. By some standards virginity means no sex of any kind, oral, anal, or vaginal. So, losing your virginity means having sex of any kind.

The consequences of losing your virginity:

There is no huge change physically when you lose your virginity, unless as a girl you get pregnant, however, there are often emotional changes. Many teens feel remorse, loss, or regret for something they can’t get back. Some feel that it is like a rite of passage, and feel a freedom, as if they have achieved something. The consequences of losing your virginity are individual. Some of the potential consequences are heart break, sexually transmitted diseases, or pregnancy.

As you can see, there are some potentially life changing consequences that comes as a result of having sex. So, the following are some things to consider before you lose your virginity.

Questions to ask yourself before losing your virginity:

Do you feel it is the right thing to do? If you have morals or values that tell you to wait until marriage, you may feel a guilt, or doubt about whether or not you should lose your virginity. You should be 100% certain it is something you want to do as you can never undo it.

Have you been drinking or are you under any substance’s influence? Losing your virginity because you got drunk or high is never a good thing. In fact, you will likely regret it your whole life. So, only make such a big decision if you are in full control of your mental and emotional facilities. That means after a death, fight, split-up etc. you should never make such a big decision, as your emotions may be off kilter.

Who is your partner? Who you choose to lose your virginity to is of great significance. One of the reasons many recommend you wait for marriage is that you know you can trust your partner because they are committed to you legally. You have to ensure that you are not going to have sex with someone who is using you, who will abuse you, will make you feel inadequate, unloved etc.

Have you considered the risks? Pregnancy, STDs and heart break are all very real risks and should not be taken lightly.

You do realize you can never get this back?

Do you know the facts about sex? You can get pregnant the first time, you can’t guarantee that you won’t get pregnant unless you abstain from sex. Sexually transmitted diseases happen, and anyone can get them. There are legal ages for having sex, and it differs from state to state, so you may be breaking the law if you are not old enough. Know the facts!

Intimacy without sex

As a teenager you have no doubt experienced some of the hormones and desires for physical contact and intimacy. Most teens have a desire for an intimate connection with someone. In addition to the sex drive, there is that need to fit in and be loved and accepted, flaws and all, by someone. Many teens turn to sex to find this intimacy with someone, as it is a very intimate act. However, sex is a huge decision, and not something you can ever go back and undo once you have done it. So, a better option for someone who is looking for intimacy, is to find it without sex. The following are some great tips for how to get intimacy without sex:

Spend time together. Being physically close to one another on a regular basis can help inspire intimacy. If you spend enough time together you start to share secrets, camaraderie, etc. So, when you have free time, spend it together, getting to know each other better.

Do things that are not going to be normal interactions of strangers. For example, give each other massages, cuddle during a movie, leave affectionate notes in each other’s cars, lockers, etc. The more familiar your actions, the more intimate your connection will become.

Enjoy the level of physicality you are comfortable with. If you are not engaging in sex, that does not mean you can’t enjoy a good make-out on occasion. Even if you are keeping your hands to yourself, and not fondling one another does not mean you can’t kiss, hold hands, hug, etc. Those steamy make-outs can go a long way in providing an intimacy without sex, just be careful not to let them go too far.

One of the best things you can do for your relationship is not let it get stale. When you first start dating you have the excitement of that first hand holding, the butterflies, the wondering, and the joy. If after a few weeks or months you no longer hold hands in the car, it is time to change that. Hold hands and never neglect to kiss each other goodbye. Sometimes the simple interactions of affection bring you far closer than intercourse. So, keep the simple things alive.

Be emotionally intimate if you are avoiding physical intimacy. Pay attention to them, their thoughts, feelings, needs, likes, dislikes. Write notes to each other. Get mushy sometimes. Surprise them with thoughtful gifts or activities. Plan things. Share with one another. Talk to them about your fears, concerns, dreams, and goals. Listen when they talk to you about theirs.

It is very possible to achieve an intimate connection and relationship with someone without the intimacy of sex. In fact, it is a much better option for teens to achieve intimacy this way so that they do not risk unwanted consequences like pregnancy, etc.

How to talk to your parents about sex

As a teenager, talking to your parents about sex can be difficult. It is especially difficult if you are trying to let them know that you are sexually active, or that you want to be. Avoiding the talk is not wise, so read the following to learn how to talk to your parents about sex.

First, it is good to know why you should talk to your parents about sex:

The first reason you should talk to your parents about sex is that out of everyone in the world, they care about you and have your best interest in heart, and are not going to pressure you to have sex to fit in or to be someone or something you are not.

The second reason you should talk to your parents about sex is that the national statistic shows that teens who talk to their parents about sex are less likely to encounter the risks such as unwanted pregnancy, STDs etc. If you talk to your parents about sex they will likely help you find the right contraception or protection so that your risks are minimized. They will help you to get tested and take precautions with your choice of partners, etc.

Lastly, parents have experience in this area, otherwise you would not exist, so they often know a lot about birth control options, treatment for sex, and even mending a broken heart.

As you can see, talking to your parents about sex has a lot of pros, but that does not make it easy. Try these tips:

1. Talk to them one at a time. Choose the parent you feel most comfortable talking to, and then talk to them alone. It makes the conversation feel more private, and it can help you feel less ganged up on.

2. Let your parent know you are uncomfortable. Sometimes just saying “Hey Dad, this is not something that is easy or comfortable for me to talk to you about, but I want to ask you something” can really help your dad understand how important it is to you, and that you are serious. It also lets them know you are not looking for an argument or a shocker, but to discuss sex in a mature, adult way.

3. Timing is key to any awkward discussion, especially the sex talk, so make sure you do not pop this on them when the timing is bad. If your parent is under a stressful deadline at work, or is cleaning up a disaster in the kitchen, or is planning a funeral for a relative, it is not likely the best time to discuss sex with them. Instead, wait until you are both at home, relaxed, and comfortable.

4. Have a plan. You won’t get a lot of response from your parents, at least not the response you want if you simply say, “I want to talk to you about sex.” Most parents will nub it in the bud with a, “you aren’t having it until you are married.” So, instead, you can say, “I am curious about how you decide if you are ready for sex.” Or, “I am thinking about having sex, what do you think I should consider before I make that decision.” Be as general or specific as you want, but let them know where you stand, and what you want to know.

5. Show respect. Sometimes a parent will teach their child certain morals and values, and it can be a slap in the face for that child to let the parent know they are sexually active, or are considering it. So, be sensitive to how your questions and revelations can affect your parents. Be respectful. Say, “I know you taught me otherwise, but I lost my virginity, and would like to have someone to talk to.” This lets them know that they are still important.

How to say “no” to your significant other

Your virginity and your body are yours. They are very personal, and you have every right to give or withhold based on what you want, not on what someone else wants. However, sometimes as a teen in a relationship, it can be difficult to say “no” to your significant other when they want and are ready for sex and you aren’t. The following are some things to consider:

Even though you know that a good relationship requires communication, it can be difficult to communicate about sex. You do not want to disappoint, or threaten someone. You do not want them to stop liking you because you are really conservative, inexperienced, or nervous when it comes to sex. For some reason, as a whole, teens seem to think that the more they act like they know everything about sex, the more accepted they will be. However, you can’t tell your significant other “no” if you do not communicate your feelings with them. You will be sending mixed signals that will be sure to end the relationship if you act like you want it, then deny them. So, rather than letting your fear of how they will take it mess up your relationship, you mess it up yourself.

So, talk to them. Tell them how you feel, and if you do not want to go into details, a simple, “I am not ready, and I am not sure when I will be” should suffice. The fact is you don’t really need to tell anyone why you don’t want to have sex, just that you don’t. Be clear though. You can’t say you don’t then jump on them for a long make-out session that gets them hot and ready.

Even though you know that loving someone doesn’t just give them permission for sex, and that someone who uses that against you is not worth it, that does not make it easy to move on. If your significant other is telling you that you will have sex with them if you really love them, a red flag should go up.

If they put conditions on you, or your love, and those conditions involve sex, there is a good chance that things won’t work out in the long run. However, knowing this and doing something about it can be two very different things. As a teenager, you want to have those relationships, that person to rely on, to hang out with, to get comfort from. So, sometimes it feels like the price (sex) is worth the payoff (the companionship). A good tip to help you combat this and still say no is to say, “If you love me you will wait until I am ready.” This will put the ball back in their court, and will show that that your love for them does not determine when you are ready for sex. You don’t have to explain. If they can’t handle it, then there is no denying it, you need to move on. This gives them an out, and gives you a viable excuse for their raging hormones. But, if they fail the test, you have to get used to being alone for a while.

Abstinence

More and more teens are choosing abstinence. The following is a look at what that means, and how it affects their life, socially, romantically, and emotionally.

What is abstinence?

Abstinence is a nutshell means that you abstain from sex. In simpler and clearer terms it means you are not having sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse means that you are having “sex” with a partner. This can be sex that is vaginal, oral or anal. In other words, if you are practicing abstinence, you are not having sex with anyone, or in anyway. It does not exclude masturbation, however.

Why are teens choosing to be abstinent?

Even though it may seem like everyone you know is sexually active, statistics show that more and more teens are practicing abstinence. The reason many of them choose this is because it is simply the best way to protect against the dangers of STDs and pregnancy. It is the only method that is 100% effective. However, in addition to the health values of abstaining from sex during the teen years, abstinence is also practiced because of personal moral values and beliefs, or religious values and beliefs. No matter the reason, you are not alone if you should choose as a teen to abstain from sex.

However, despite everything else discussed, probably the most compelling reason to practice abstinence is regret. National statistics about teenage sex show that 3 out of 4 girls who had sex as a teen wish they have waited longer. Most girls feel they were pressured, and that it was not as special or as meaningful as they wanted it to be. Even those that do not feel pressure often wish they had waited simply to add more significance to it.

During the teenage years your hormones are raging. Your body undergoes changes physically and hormonally during the puberty years and can kick your sexual urges into overdrive, which often leads to making the decision of sex in the heat of a passionate moment, leading to regrets later. In addition to the hormonal rollercoaster your body seems to be on, there is the emotional aspect to consider. Most teens have a life full of drama and changing emotions. So and so is mad at so and so, etc. Often times you really do not know your own mind. There are a lot of influences pulling you in a million directions. You have the urges of your hormones and your body. You have your personal values and beliefs. You have the views of your friends. You have the need for acceptance; you have all sorts of things telling you to do this or don’t do that. Throw parents, teachers, and popular culture into the mix, and no wonder you are often confused on what you should do. So, rather than make a big decision, like sex, during this state, choose abstinence until you can choose just for you.