He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not…

Suitability: Key Stage Four

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is a dramatised storytelling on healthy relationships for teenagers

Bullying can occur between partners in teenage relationships as readily as it can between younger children and adults and have just as a significant an impact on well-being, self-concept, personal development and opportunities. He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not seeks to help its audience understand and build healthier relationships, as young people and as adults. He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not follows on from our succesful work on the impact of domestic abuse on young people with Heartstrings.

This storytelling will explore bullying and other abusive behaviour within teenage relationships. Different types of domestic abuse will be exposed, and the social frameworks and misconceptions which may produce or sustain them. The story will stress that we all have rights and personal ethical frameworks and no considerations of rights or wrongs should be allowed to eclipse them.

Young people are offered many examples to help them understand their own identities, needs and interactions with those around them: parents, family, teachers and other adults within their communities; figures in literature, cinema and television and video games; perhaps most influentially thir own peers. The models frequently conflict unhelpfully, or require contextual understanding – even Heathcliff and Cathy’s relationship may not be most the helpful model for love, outside of Wuthering Heights. The story challenges received notions of how young people may believe they are expected to behave within relationships and defies surrender to peer pressure or expectations. The story explores how bullying can express itself through put-downs and jokes, suffocating control denying freedoms of choice, identity and over what a partner does with their own body. The story encourages young people to make their own choices, to listen to their own and their partner’s feelings and build happier relationships based upon trust caring and consideration.

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not describes a relationship which seems attractive but turns sour, from the perspectives of a friend watching on, a teenage boy and his girlfriend. The friend mixes resentment at losing her friend’s attention with her dislike for him and the way he treats her former friend. She wants to help but does not know what to do. The audience is encouraged to understand that she could have helped earlier, but sill make choices which will safely help her friend. The boy is confused at how he is behaving, but he justifies his feelings and actions and believing that he has to act the way he does, his bullying behaviour is spiralling out of control. The story aims to challenge his misconceptions, and stresses that he does not have to behave in this way; he has choices to face about how he behaves towards those around him. The girl describes feeling trapped by her affection for her partner, her desire to be needed and its conflict with her need to be her own person, with her own rights and needs. She feels increasingly disempowered and unable to escape from what has become a damaging relationship.  The story aims to encourage direct exploration of what she could have done, and what others could have done to change her situation and her relationship effectively for the better.