This letter is to all you young men who are trying to show care, honor, and respect to the girls and women in your lives—in your actions, words, and in your private thoughts. I know you’re out there because I have a teenage son who strives for that, and I’ve spoken to thousands of you who just want to do the right thing.
I also know the “private thoughts” part of it is not always easy today. Yes, I am a woman, but after 17 years of immersing myself in how men and boys think, I have at least a sense of how real the struggle can be. You’re bombarded with sexually-charged images on social media, shows, movies and ads throughout the day—images that are perfectly designed to stimulate a particular part of your brain (more on that later). You sometimes feel school is a thought-life minefield. Even the nicest girls, your close friends, seem to not always understand why tiny skirts and barely-there tank tops might trigger thoughts you don’t want to have. And that’s just the day-to-day stuff, not even the “special event” stuff like Homecoming dresses that leave little to the imagination. Not to mention that hormones act like fuel on an existing fire.
I get all of that. But there’s no way of getting around this too: It’s one thing to want to treat the girls you know with total respect (outwardly and inwardly), and it’s another thing to actually do it. If you build the habits now—the habit of “taking every thought captive”, the habit of respectful words and actions regardless of what anyone around you is doing—it will not only help you today, but set you up with healthy patterns for the rest of your life.
To help you do that, it might help you to know a few things—about yourself, about girls—that you may not actually know. This is essential, eye-opening stuff. (Which you can find more about in our book For Young Men Only.) And as we dive in . . . thank you for doing your very best to be respectful toward the girls in your life. You can do this!
Let’s look at a few things that might surprise you.