Author Peggy Orentstein on Navigating the dating scene


Dominique Thomas

Author Peggy Orenstein’s new book sheds light on navigating teen sexuality and relationships, along with anecdotes that help teenagers feel not alone and comfortable in their own situations. The book includes intensive interviews from 100 college and young adult boys with ages ranging from 16 to 21. Orenstein shared some of the key insights of her book in an online discussion with Glenbard parents this past week. 


Orenstein never thought about writing a sequel to her Girls & Sex book and never imagined writing about boys, but when the Metoo movement came out and more teenagers were sharing their stories, she decided to expand the conversation about gender identity and intimacy. Discussing topics from masculinity to helping achieve healthy emotional relationships with others and themselves.


“When I was writing the girls book I focused more on girls being cut off from their bodies and not understanding their bodies,” she said. “With the boys it was more a disconnection from their hearts.”


Orenstein discusses that society doesn’t give boys a space to feel safe to discuss their problems or concerns. In her book, she notes how eager most men were to speak out and voice themselves for her books. In this generation, Generation Z, more boys have been comfortable to speak about themselves and really find themselves in troubling times. 


“A lot of the guys would tell me that they have figured it out, how to build a wall to block out any feelings except, maybe happiness and anger,” Orenstein said.


Also, Orenstein brings up the concept of an “ideal” partner for today’s boys that sets them up for relationship failure. Nowadays the concept of a perfect person has hurt more than it has helped. Having unattainable standards has created many issues for boys such as poor self-image and low self-worth. Excluding a partner because of looks is not only unfair but the standards are unrealistic, Orenstein said.


“I would ask them all the time just to give me a lightning round of the ideal man, and when we would do that it was like channeling 1955.”


Orenstein’s book series brings up a lot of issues with this generation’s dating and hook-up scene. Including peer pressure among teens and the function of consent. Her books help teenagers understand they are not alone and the awkward stages of growing up are universal. Discovering yourself in different environments and learning to be comfortable in your own skin, Orenstein has seen it all. 


Orenstein helps the parents understand what their kids may be going through with emotions and having a better grasp on the situation. Navigating through the awkward talks about emotions and trying to help parents teach kids how to connect with themselves and live more comfortably has been an end goal for Orenstein.


The series has it all, and Orenstein is ready to spread more awareness and stories for the tennagers who need a voice. Educating people on the subject of relationships and more, Orenstein has a goal to help make teenagers find their confidence.