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   Bikram Agarwal
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When U HAVE to have a GirlFriend | Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I've been looking for the 'right gal' for so long. I've hung out with several babes, but it's never a done deal." says 14-year old Karl Pareira.

At 1st I didn't like him so much. But when his friends came and told me how much he liked me, I started meeting him in the compound. On some days, we hold hands." says 8-year old Sanaa Setthi.
My friends laugh at me because I haven't been able to take even a single gal on a date. All of them have someone to be with and I wish I had some experience with chicks too. I feel very left out when they discuss all their conquests." says 19-years old Jignesh Patel.

What does one say of a society where 14-year old Karl is considering joining a dating agency to find the girl of his dreams? What kind of conclusion does one draw when Sanaa, all of 8, tells U that her 'building friend' (3 yrs her senior) is now her 'boyfriend' and eager for a kiss? How do you explain to Jignesh, a 19-year old collegian, who is doing well academically, that he is not really a 'loser' because he's a virgin?

The thing is, Age is expanding at both extremes. Today u find children doing things, which people normally people did in their adolescence. So, people are experiencing various cravings and compulsions at a younger age than the last generation did. And so, while earlier it was the 20 and 30-something who were often at the receiving end of blunt questions like 'Are u still single?' or 'Haven't u found someone yet?' today, this questions also hound much younger targets. Gals and guys of today's generation who don't have a boyfriend or girlfriend are looked down upon and made to feel like losers. There are some guys who can carry off an 'I'm-so-cool, I-don't-need-a-steady-GF' image. But for most people, there's a lot of pressure to hook-up.

[ Continued in Full Post ]

As early as in the 3rd standard, u see kids having crushes on each other. By the 6th n 7th stnd, there's plenty of sex talk among them. And if u r the 'happening kind' then there's lot of pressure to have someone by the time u're 12! If U don't have a crush, U don't fit in. This is specially true in big schools among kids from higher income groups, who are allowed to socialize, having relatively more freedom, more money and the facilities of a car n driver on call 24/7 to do so. Among the middle-class, where after-school interaction is limited, it manifests itself on a lesser level in the form of teasing.

Why do boys and girls feel compelled to have a mate at such an early age? It's apparently because they're maturing emotionally much more quickly than before and are exposed to media that hypes relationships. Children idolize stars and want to imitate them. Other reasons like the need for excitement, the need to have someone to attend socials and parties with, the need to seem 'popular', the need to have someone to boost one's self-esteem or enjoy attention from a source other than family are all valid in today's times. And even if the craving doesn't come from within, the pressure from both friends and foes, who respectively either push them into the dating scene or put them down for not being part of it, is immense.

The effects of such peer pressure can result in damage to the youngster's self-image. It especially effects young gals, who feel they don't look good enough to attract boyz. They feel the need to do something like coloring their hair or change the way they dress or look better. And although it doesn't often develop into a complex among guys, they do get a lot of flak from other boys, who may bully them, calling them 'pansy' or 'girlish' if they don't show they're 'macho' by dating a gal.

The solution....??? Well, I don't think going out and buying dating manuals like The Happy Hook-Up or reading advice on internet will help. But perhaps U could keep your eyes and mind open, as well as discuss peer pressure and importance of protecting one's individuality.

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