Relationship Tips From YA Authors

by Lauren Lynne
(and friends)

Hello readers and welcome to our edition of “Relationship Tips for Teens, Young Adults, And, Really … Everyone Else Too.”  I am Lauren Lynne and I penned The Recalcitrant Project for Wyvern’s Peak Publishing.

 By Sneha ss (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Sneha ss (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I’d love to share some thoughts with you about relationships, and the reasons I’m qualified to give relationship tips are:

1. I’m old.  I’ve got loads of experience in this game of life. I have reached that magic milestone of 50 and have raised two young men into adulthood. Did I mention I was old? Yeah? Well, I have a few gray hairs, but not too many considering.

2. I’m still a certified teacher in the state of Oregon for youth from age three to eighteen – so, yeah, I have a bit of wisdom with the topic.

3. I write about young adults and their relationships built on personal experience, hours of observation, and research.

Throwing all that aside, I truly enjoy young people and love to help them when I can. My rules of the relationship game may make you laugh, but they are very much true.

Everything you need to know about relationships you learned in elementary school.

Yep, you read that right - elementary school

Rule #1 – Be Kind

Oh my goodness, would we be anywhere worth being if we weren’t kind?  Even if it’s not hip, cool, or whatever the current word is – say “please,” and “thank you.” Give them a smile. Be patient with your waiter/waitress and other customer service reps.

By the way, my twenty-year-old spent some time working drive-through this last year. Please be kind to those people!  Did you know that they listen to a headset, listen to orders coming in, listen to comments and information from coworkers, are constantly face-to-face with customers, assemble orders, hand them through the window, and even deal with money? Sometimes all at once.

Yep, that’s why they are often frazzled. Most importantly, don’t hand the poor drive-through staff sweaty money. Just … don’t.

 Rule #2 – Be Courteous

Take turns and share. Be a good listener. Helping little old ladies across the street is not just for scouts. Hold a door for someone. Hold the door for the UPS and FedEx driver with their arms full of stuff. And that mom with a stroller – yes, she probably needs an extra hand. That goes for dads with strollers, and anyone pushing a wheelchair.

True fact – doors are awkward. Hold it for someone.

Rule #3 – Be Safe

Make wise decisions about your health and welfare. Never intentionally harm others or yourself. No matter who you are, someone is counting on you.

Also, if something makes you feel uncomfortable – Don’t do it! I don’t care if that is sex, drugs, or something less dramatic. Listen to what your gut is telling you; it’s smarter than you think.

There is a big difference between “I feel nervous speaking in front of a crowd” and that uncomfortable feeling you get when you face a life-altering choice. Trust yourself!

Rule #4 – Be Responsible

If you make a mistake, own it and try to fix it. Plan ahead and be prepared. Help others when you can. The big one here is: don’t blame others for your mistakes.

Although it’s true that some of our choices are based on lack of information, others are because we didn’t take a moment to think. You are smart – take that moment before you dive into anything you’re not sure about.

Rule #5 – Be Respectful

Let people know they are appreciated. If someone has done you wrong, try explaining to them that you don’t like the action

It’s not, “I don’t like YOU.” It’s, “I don’t like it when you …” or “I don’t like the behavior.”  Recognize that the only person you can ever really change is yourself.

Ask yourself:  Does being with this person make me happy? Am I a better person when I am around them? Am I following the elementary rules above? Are they? If you can answer yes to all of these questions, then this person may be a good fit for you.

So to recap, be kind (check), be courteous (check), be safe (check), be responsible (check), be respectful (check). You’ve got this!

See, you really did learn it all in elementary school.

Thanks, Lauren! D.C. McGannon here ... I asked our other authors here at Wyvern's Peak to share their thoughts after reading Lauren's post. Their responses are below. Pretty cool stuff, so here ya go:

Laurie Bell's Thoughts

(Laurie Bell is from Australia - land of boomerangs, kangaroos, and really nasty spiders! She is the author of The Butterfly Stone, which will be available Spring 2018 from Wyvern's Peak Publishing.)

G’day Mates! Laurie here. Wow, Lauren really does cover all the bases. I wanted to add a little story from me too. I was once a teenager. A long time ago in a place far, far away (Australia) and I think the advice I have about relationships is pretty simple. Be comfortable, be happy, and put the other person first.

Gosh, when you feel that buzz about someone, and you just want to hang out with them, listen to them and spend all your time with them, it’s all about excitement and feelings. YOUR feelings, right? But what about theirs?

It’s amazing how special you feel when someone truly listens to you. You can give that gift to someone, and help them to feel special too.
— Laurie Bell

I think you need to be genuine and honest in your own head. If you truly care about someone, whether it is your best friend or a potential girlfriend/boyfriend, you want them to feel happy, right? I know I want to feel happy.

Work out what makes YOU feel happy. You want to be loved, respected, trusted, heard, right?

If someone is important to you, be the one to ask them how they are feeling and listen, truly listen. Your mom or dad, your grandma, your brother or sister, your best friend, the girl/guy you have a crush on. Don’t listen just until they take a breath so then it’s your turn to talk. Listen because you want to hear what they have to say. Don’t push your opinions on anyone, or force the situation to be the way you want it to be. Take the time to truly listen.

Everyone has a story and that story is fascinating. And do you know what? Everyone has a time to be ready, and that time is different for everyone.

Gosh, I wanted to get to know me and to be comfortable in my own skin before I gave anyone else my time. I worked out what made me happy and wanted to replicate that. I wanted to be loved for ME, not for a concept, or because all my friends had boyfriends/girlfriends.

Blah! I didn’t want to be like everyone else. I wanted to be ME.

If you are not ready … then you are not ready. There is no rush, no expiry date on love. Like Lauren says, be kind, courteous, safe, responsible and respectful.

And ASK.

Would you want the person you care for to be uncomfortable? Would you want them to make YOU uncomfortable? Who wants to be uncomfortable, raise your hands? No one, right? So take your time and truly listen.

It’s amazing how special you feel when someone truly listens to you. You can give that gift to someone, and help them to feel special too.

Michael McGannon's Thoughts

(Michael McGannon is co-author of the best-selling Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters series, writes for video games, and loves chocolate. He's about to get married this year, so he has some fresh advice for everyone. Listen up!)

Oof … Relationship advice …

This is a hard one. It’s a lot easier to write about Charlie Sullivan and his friends facing the machinations of the Ancients, than it is to write advice on relationships.

Lauren and Laurie bring up very important rules to live by here, and I think following those will help cultivate a healthy and enjoyable relationship, whether with a friend, a family member, or a potential boyfriend/girlfriend.

I’m going to chat about the latter for a moment here, and through a matter of perspective.

Later on this year, I’m getting married to my best friend. My fiancé is ridiculously beautiful, crazy smart, and one of the goofiest (and therefore most fun) people I have ever known. But first and foremost, she is my best friend.

One day, a co-worker of mine was talking about his girlfriend, lamenting about a recent series of fights they had been having. He had talked before about ending the relationship, and given the frequency of the fights recently, I turned around and asked why he was still with her. His answer included a list of qualities. I told him that these were good qualities, yes, but why did he stay with her?

Sometimes we get so caught up with having to “get the girl/guy” or “go on a date” or “be with someone” that we’re just excited to have that boyfriend/girlfriend, and we forget that half of that word is ‘friend.’
— C. Michael McGannon

From this, I got a blank stare and a couple of slow blinks. I can only imagine what he must have been thinking. He had just listed a bunch of really good things about his girlfriend. Had I not heard him?

Finally, he asked me why I was with my fiancé. My first answer was that we were best friends. It was the same thing I was looking for him to say about his relationship, but had not heard from him.

In our day and age, with all of the books, movies, and songs that illustrate these fun and adventurous relationships, it seems like a lot of people just want to have a girlfriend or a boyfriend to fill that empty status. If you aren’t with someone, then it almost seems like you have this uncompleted quest yet to be fulfilled.

But when you get that boyfriend or girlfriend … then what?

Well, like in my co-worker’s case, you now have this relationship status and a list of fights as you try to figure out what all of that means. Sometimes we get so caught up with having to “get the girl/guy” or “go on a date” or “be with someone” that we’re just excited to have that boyfriend/girlfriend, and we forget that half of that word is “friend.”

Everyone has the potential to be great. Everyone has great qualities. If all we were looking for in a relationship was someone with great qualities, well … that’s cool, but vague. And don’t get me wrong, good qualities are important and shouldn’t be compromised for. But just like my co-worker, he could list his girlfriend’s qualities, but not a real, tangible reason they should be together at that point.

You can’t force someone to be your best friend, of course, and you shouldn’t have to. But it should be something incredibly important to keep in mind: If you’re looking to be in a long-term relationship, shouldn’t you be looking for a long-term friend, first and foremost?

A good friend, by the way, will almost always naturally follow those rules Lauren listed earlier. Sure, you will have your disagreements and discrepancies, but at the end of the day, the best of friends get through those conflicts together.

Don’t let your boyfriend or girlfriend just be that “achievement” to get in your life. Find people that will be the best of friends for life.

Okay, back to writing about guys and gals fighting abyssal monsters and Lovecraftian horrors between hot cocoa breaks.

Holly McGannon's Thoughts

(Holly McGannon is on the editing team for Wyvern's Peak Publishing. She's a Certified Stress Management Coach - she has to be, she's married to D.C.! Lol. She's married to her best friend, and has raised two wonderful boys. She has some great wisdom for relationships.)

Hello, everyone! Holly here. Everyone above had some great things to consider.

The Golden Rule (treating others the way you want to be treated) applies to all of our relationships. Family, friends, peers, and co-workers, all want respect and for someone to care.

D.C. and I have worked with students ranging from pre-teens through college, and their families, for over twenty-five years. During this time I have witnessed so many students living secret lives. They tried to act like nothing was wrong, or some tried to act tough, like nothing could ever bother them. Getting to know them better, my heart broke again and again seeing so many go through truly hard times in their own homes.

Sometimes the people that are the hardest to be kind to are the people who need kindness the most.
— Holly McGannon

We need to be kind to everyone and be willing to listen, because until we have walked a mile in someone else’s shoes, we never really know what they are going though. Sometimes the people that are the hardest to be kind to are the people who need kindness the most.

As far as dating advice … you will eventually marry someone you date. Obviously, right? Know what qualities are most important to you and your future. For example, do you make each other laugh, do you share the same beliefs, or do you communicate well?

If the person you are interested in doesn’t share your values, you may do them and yourself a favor by remaining friends and not dating. Take your time and enjoy growing the relationships you have with your friends.

After seven years of friendship and only two dates (yes, only TWO dates), D.C. and I have been happily married for twenty-eight years.

D.C. McGannon's Thoughts

(D.C. McGannon is co-author of the best-selling Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters series, is a Certified Life Coach, and has been working with teens and families for nearly 30 years. He's pretty much an expert on things like Scooby-Doo, 80s pop culture, and how to make the best bowl of oatmeal you've ever had. Those things have nothing to do with relationship advice, but ... wait a minute ... Yes. Yes they do!)

What’s up everyone? I asked everyone for their thoughts after reading Lauren’s initial advice, and there are some great words of wisdom to think about and apply to your life. As Holly said, we’ve worked with literally thousands upon thousands of teens and young adults all over the world and in just about every conceivable situation for many years. It has been one of my greatest privileges to invest in lives of young people all over the world.

The truth is, I married my best friend. We never had a “dating” relationship (we went to two school dances together … whoopee!), but our hearts and souls were connected at a level that can only be explained as spiritual. Someone once said about us that we could always find each other in a loud, bustling crowd, even if we didn’t know where the other one was, because our connection always brought us back together.

We laugh together (I made her laugh so hard at dinner the other night that snot started coming out of her nose and she couldn’t see because her eyes watered so much … Ha! … don’t tell her I told you that), we play together, cry together, face down mountains, and walk through valleys together. We celebrate together, and very often simply want to be next to each other, without saying anything or going anywhere or doing anything specific. We just like being near one another.

We respect each other and serve each other. We are partners in our relationship and we fill in each other’s weaknesses and depend on each other’s strengths. We’ve been on top of the world, and we’ve walked through hell together … and we keep on truckin’.

Get this part of your life right, if nothing else.
— D.C. McGannon, speaking about relationship advice for teens & young adults

Yeah, we’ve had our ups and downs, but that’s precisely what we wanted when we started out together: someone to do life with!

I definitely got the better deal! She’s kind, full of grace, beautiful, understanding, and fun. I feel sorry for Holly sometimes because she always has to look at my ugly mug! Ha! It’s like a real-life Beauty and the Beast, but there’s one thing for sure: I’ll do anything for her, and she’ll do anything for me, and we love each other with a fire that burns away anything that would try to come against us. Does that make sense?

I think one piece of relationship advice I might have is: LOVE is also spelled T.I.M.E.

Love takes time. It requires it. Time to nurture. Time to care. Time to listen. Time to share. Time to laugh, and time to be sad together. Time doing nothing together, and time to do everything together. Time to figure it out, time to make mistakes, and time to celebrate the good times.

You know how I show my love to my wife and my two sons? Time! I give them my time. I give them a lot more, obviously, but if I can’t give them my time, then I'm not sure the rest of it is worth it. Time is one of the most precious resources we humans have, and when we invest it in another person, it speaks the world to them.

It’s kinda funny. Holly and I never really dated before we got married, but we’ve been dating ever since. Literally! We’ve been going on dates every week since we got married. Every. Dang. Week! We don’t miss it. Even if we have to schedule a different day, we always have that dedicated time together to be alone, talk, listen, have some fun … the most important time in our week is the time we spend with each other.

Time can also teach you when someone isn’t right for you, so keep that in mind too.

Here’s the deal: Lauren, Laurie, Michael, and Holly have each given you some very important things to consider. Listen to them, take what I’ve said too, and work through it. Figure it out, but not all today. Take your time. Get this part of your life right, if nothing else.

If you get this part right, it solves so many other things you will face through the years.

For now, figure out how you’re going to love yourself, and what you need to do to take care of you.

You are unique. You are wanted. You are loved and appreciated.

Thanks for hanging out with us. Give us a shout if you need to (leave a comment below or tweet us). We’d love to hear from you!