Q&A with Dr. Dorothy: Your tough questions answered
Dorothy Ratusny is a Certified Psychotherapist specializing in Cognitive Therapy.
I am 18-years-old and I have been with my boyfriend for just over a year. I love him a lot but lately we have been talking about sex. He is beginning to put more pressure on me to have sex with him. But I don’t want to do it right now. I tell him I want wait a little longer and he keeps getting angry with me when I tell him I want to wait a little longer. I don’t want him to keep getting mad at me, what should I do?
Ideally your first experience of sex is one that you want to feel ready for. Your ‘first’ experience of anything often sets the stage for how you continue to perceive that experience — so it’s important that you create a positive ‘first’ sexual experience. Explain to your boyfriend your reasons for wanting to wait and ask that he respect your decision. Ultimately, you don’t have any control over whether you boyfriend will get mad with you or not. If he loves you a lot, he will respect what is ‘right’ for you and not continue to put more pressure on you. If he continues to get mad — take a hard look at that behavior — because what he is essentially doing is putting his wants and needs before yours.
I am 14-years-old and about a week ago my mother caught me smoking with some friends. I told her it wasn’t my friends fault but she doesn’t believe me because she doesn’t like my group of friends. Now she won’t let me go anywhere with them because she doesn’t trust them or me. They’re really good friends and I promised my mom I would never do it again. What can I do to regain my mother’s trust so that she will let me hang out with my friends again?
Regaining trust takes time. You can start by sticking to your word on everything that you say and being patient with your Mom. Ultimately it was your choice to smoke, so hopefully your Mom will realize that you are in control of what you do and not your friends.
I am a 15-years-old and I find myself ditching school a few times a week because I am being severely bullied. When I do attend school, I am a quiet person with a small group of friends and we all do okay in school. We also have a lot of fun together. The girl who bullies me threatens and teases me constantly every time I answer a question in class or hand in my homework. The bullying is so bad that she’s threatened to put me in the hospital and has even gone so far as to threaten to kill me. I don’t know what I did to this girl. I am afraid to tell my parents because I don’t want them to move me away from the school and my friends, what should I do?
Bullying is not acceptable behavior. The first step is to let someone know that it is happening to you. Your teacher or another teacher who you feel comfortable with would be the best person to speak to if you are afraid to share this with your parents. Your teachers are there to help you and they can address the issue appropriately. You need to be really honest with your teacher(s) about how severe the bullying has become. The next step is to do your best to continue on with your life. Missing school — although it is a temporary solution, only hurts you in the end. Being at school and being ‘strong’ on the outside to any comments or threats sends a message that you aren’t going to be a victim of this behavior. Wherever possible, ignore the comments and do your best to not personalize them. Bullies are people who feed off of the power that comes from positioning themselves over someone else. Do your best to keep your ‘power’ by staying strong and remembering that this isn’t about you — but rather, about someone else’s need to make themselves feel better at the expense of another.
I am 15-years-old and a few years ago my parents split up. It was unexpected and I was devastated. Now I hardly see my dad and when I do it’s always for a short period of time. A lot of times I think about what it would my life would be like if my parents got back together. I have lost focus in school and my grades are slipping. I don’t feel like hanging out with my friends anymore or even doing fun social activities. What can I do to get over my parents divorce and stop it from ruining my life?
As much as your parent’s divorce has affected your life, it only continues to ‘ruin’ things as long as you think about what your life would be like if they were together. Thinking about what is likely improbable only makes you feel depressed and hopeless. This clearly affects your life in a negative way. Start to think about what things are good in your life. Pay attention to how it feels to look at what is positive and notice what starts to happen. Getting involved in your life again — seeing friends and doing all of the activities that you used to do — will help you to focus on your life and have some fun again. Ultimately your parents wouldn’t want your life to be ‘ruined’ because of a decision that they made.
I am 18-years-old and I have a friend of mine who is constantly talking about me to my other friends. I don’t like it but I am also not a person who likes confrontation. She has attitude and if I confront her she will automatically get really defensive and say mean things. How can I approach her to tell her I am hurt by the things she says about me without causing a huge argument?
This doesn’t sound like a true friend. Be straight with her and ask her to please stop. Explain how you are hurt by using an “I” statement. I.e. I feel _________ when you talk about me to my other friends. After you speak to her, all you can do is hope that she will listen. Beyond that, you may need to rethink how much of your time you spend with this person.
For more on Dorothy check out www.dorothyratusny.com