How to treat someone you like who gives mixed signals

Mandhie Asks: There’s a boy at school I like and I know he likes me (and lots of other people can see it too), but he still won’t say it to me, and keeps dating other girls. My feelings toward him are sort of fading away – I can’t waste my precious teenage years loving someone who isn’t ready. But I am still hurt or jealous when I see him with a girl. I feel like giving up but I don’t want to yet. What should I do? Follow my heart or do what is right?

Hi Mandhie –



I think the solution is in your question, but I think your question is wrong!  You ask whether you should do what’s right or follow your heart.  But I’m not sure you know what either of those would dictate.  “What’s right” might be to be careful, to not get involved with a boy who’s going out with lots of girls, to wait for him to come to you, or to go right up to him and tell him you want him to forget those other girls and be your boyfriend.  Your heart might tell you to run away and never look at him again, to throw yourself at him, to send him secret anonymous love notes… or all of those at the same time!


I would argue, in a situation like this, that you shouldn’t do anything that you don’t believe is right, and that you should follow your heart.  In other words, the answer to your question would be “Do both, or nothing!”  But because it’s so hard to determine what either of those things is, I don’t know if that advice helps at all.


The problem here (and what makes it really exciting!) is that he’s not letting you (or me!) know anything.  He’s not saying he’s interested in you, and he’s not saying he’s not.  He’s not pursuing you, and he’s not avoiding or ignoring you.  He’s being absolutely… perfect at keeping you in this crazy place!


So I’ll return your question with one of mine: How long are you willing to stay there?


When I was a puppy, and Handsome would leave home, I’d sit by the door waiting for him to come back.  I didn’t want to play, to eat, to sniff around – I didn’t want to do anything but wait for him.  Well, sometimes he was only stepping outside to get something from the car, and my wait was just fine.  But sometimes he was gone for eight hours or more, and my wait got unbearable, and I gave up and went on with my day.


Now I was too young then to understand this, but today I would never do what I did then.  And that’s because I trust Handsome enough to know that I don’t need to wait by that door.  I can go do what I want, because when he comes home, the first thing he’ll do is come looking for me.  I won’t miss a second of him.


So let’s look at you.  You could keep waiting for this boy, and it sounds like someday he’ll come around and want to get to know you better, so it’ll be okay that you do – but… Why would you want to?  Isn’t it just as likely that he’ll come around sometime when you’re not waiting for him?  Plus, if you go out with another boy, that might make this one find you more interesting!


One thing I find I have to argue to teens a lot is about their beliefs about time.  My dear Mandhie, if you go out with a boy today, it’s not like you’re getting married.  You’re supposed to date different boys now.  Have fun, get to know them.  Stay safe, please stay safe, but get out there – there’s no need to treat any boy as a permanent thing.


Now if this boy is the only boy you find interesting at all, that’s a reason to not date anyone else!  But if you’d have any interest in someone else, then sure, give them a chance.  (And if you do, there’s a good chance you won’t feel quite as jealous about those other girls you see this guy with!)


This is your life, Mandhie.  This boy is part of it, and some day he might become a bigger part of it.  But the healthiest (and most attractive) thing you can do is to live your life as productively, enjoyably, self-lovingly, and as fully as you can, starting right now.


All my best,




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