How to get a relationship going between two people who are both scared of it

Mandhie asks: I am interested in a boy. He is a very good student and was the head boy when we were in middle school; so everybody expects something good from him and in order to release the stress, he has nothing to do than to retreat. (When I asked you about him before, you commented, “he retreats from one thing that brings out all these reactions and confusions and feelings.” Sorry but I don’t understand. Could you explain that part to me?) Right now, I feel the stage at which we are is not good for dating, but although I don’t know why, I am feeling kinda in a hurry to have a boyfriend. I am 15, and he will turn 16 this November. He is the kind of guy who expects he will have a girlfriend when he is maybe in his 20s. He would like to date only one girl so that no girl would have a bad impression about him, and he can be special only to her. And Shirelle, I want to be that girl he will hold her hand for the first time. This stage isn’t the best to date, so I’m waiting. I know he likes me, even though so many other girls like him. So we are just trying to ignore each other and be just friends although we wish to be together. I remember one day, his mum came to visit my mum and called me “daughter in-law.” Shirelle, my heart jumped out when she said that! His brothers also like to tease us as future husband and wife. All these beautiful things happen, but it seems we can’t be together since we both can’t express our feelings. At times, I wish he had never come into being, because I think about him all the time and it is not helping me! Please help Shirelle, I’m just thinking about something I feel will never happen.

Hi Mandhie –


Okay, let’s get this out at the start:  This is SUCH a romantic letter!!!  I’m just swooning!


Now, about what I meant about “the one thing that brings out all these reactions and confusions and feelings…” I mean YOU!  Just as you feel lots of feelings toward him that you express in this letter, he feels probably even more toward you – and all of them make him feel pressure.  Pressure to talk to you, pressure to be cool and avoid you, pressure to run away from you in case you’d be mean to him, pressure to run away from you in case you’d be super-nice to him!, pressure to figure things out, pressure to touch you… ALL those at once, and it’s just too much for one brain to handle!  Have you seen “Pacific Rim?”  It’s like there, when the people get hooked up and suddenly their brain has to take in too much and their noses start to bleed from the pressure!  That’s this guy!  (And it’s very likely a total compliment to you!).


Now when it comes to your question about yourself, I’d give the same answer!  I get questions all the time from people who see someone they’re attracted to at school, and wonder how to approach them, or how to tell a friend that they want to be more than friends.  But in your case, you:  a) find this boy really attractive, b) see him as very attracted to you, c) know he wants to hold off on dating for a while, d) want to date him now, e) are teased by his brothers about being a couple, and f) are referred to by his mother as her “daughter-in-law!  WOW! I can see why you think this is a sure thing, and why you’re scared it’ll never happen – both at once!  My nose is about to bleed from just reading this!  That’s a LOT!


But then you say one other thing, and I think this is the key to the whole situation.  You say, “we both can’t express our feelings.”


Speaking as a pooch who has never stopped from expressing my feelings about anything (squirrels, pizza, strangers who I wanted to sniff under their dresses, or anything else!)…   WHY NOT?!


Who says you can’t express your feelings?  You’ve expressed them beautifully here.  Why can’t you tell this boy “I really like you and I hope you like me”?  Why can’t you say “I know you’re waiting, but I’m hoping to be the first hand you hold”?  Why can’t you sing him a song?


I do know one answer to my question, which would be that you’d be frightened of how he’d respond – that he might say “Oh I’m sorry, I don’t actually feel that way about you at all,” or “Yes I’m madly in love with you and need us to wait for five years,” or (worst of all) not be able to respond in any way.  All those are kind of scary to face.


But love is all about risk, Mandhie.  When I see a dog I want to play with, I approach with a bit of caution, in case it doesn’t want to play with me and would start a fight instead.  But I do approach.


Now here’s another thing – remember how I talked about how both of your brains have too much going on in them right now?  Well, that means that he’s feeling some attraction to at least someone.  Now I don’t know if it’s you, but this does mean that if you say something like “Hey, I really like you,” he’s going to understand the sort of thing you’re feeling.  He’s not going to think “That’s weird, why would she say that to me?”  No, he’ll get it.


And if he’s half the great guy you think he is, he’ll respond in a way that is sensitive and considerate and kind.  Yes, it might not be the answer you want to hear.  But if not, then that will free you to think about and maybe date other boys.  Which is a lot better than wasting your precious teenage years in obsessing over a guy who isn’t right for you.


But if it is the answer you want to hear…  if he does feel things for you, and wants to only have one love in his life… and if he is thinking that that special person might be you…


Oh I’m going to faint right now!  This is just TOOOOOOOOOOO romantic!  Our doggy brains just aren’t built for this!!!


Good Luck, Mandhie!  I can’t wait to hear what happens!



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