Howling wolves asks: I have a friend that I like, and he likes me. But my mom had a long talk with the two of us and said that she’s fine with us hanging out and liking each other, but she said that I’m NOT allowed to have a boyfriend. I’m ok with it, but lately that friend keeps telling me that we NEED to be boyfriend and girlfriend to be together, and that he doesn’t want to be just friends anymore. I can’t disobey my mother, so what should I do?
Hi Howling wolves –
One of the toughest, and most important, things about growing up is developing a sense of your self-worth. We dogs tend to have it pretty easily, unless it’s beaten out of us (which happens more often than I’d like to admit). But you humans, with your giant brains, have a tougher task at hand.
You see, when you’re children, normally you defer to adults’ opinions on everything – and that’s good. You want to cross a busy street alone, your mother tells you you aren’t ready to do that yet, and while your ego says “Sure I am!” you develop a sense that she might know something you don’t, and so you don’t walk out there (and, by making that decision, you live another day!).
Then you get a little older, and start school, and the same thing happens with the other kids. You want to wear your Hello Kitty t-shirt to school because you love it, but the kids in your class think Hello Kitty is kind of “last year,” and, although it’s your favorite shirt, you learn to choose the clothes that will help you fit in more. And again, this is totally okay (as long as you don’t throw the shirt out – since fashions change!).
But then you get a little older, and find yourself in just the situation you’re describing. You’re someone who wants to be obedient to your mom, but this guy is saying you “NEED” to have him for a boyfriend, so the way you’ve been living doesn’t allow you to make the right choice.
Nope, it’s time to take the next step to adulthood, and make your own decision! Scary but exciting, isn’t it!
Now I’m not going to tell you exactly what you should do, but one thing you say sticks out to me – you say, “I’m ok with” not having a boyfriend. Now, to me, that means that you’re not all that interested in having a boyfriend just yet. Most likely you’ll get more impassioned about it later, but right now, things are fine.
But that boy doesn’t feel that way. It’s really important to him that you’re boyfriend and girlfriend. He says you “need” to. Which is nice and certainly a compliment, but it makes my ears pick up just a bit.
See, here’s my problem. Teen boys often pressure their teen girlfriends into things the girls aren’t ready for just yet. Now at this point, he’s not asking anything that worries me – but if you agreed to what he’s saying, then that would be the basis of your relationship! When he says you have to do something, you do it. And that part, I don’t like at all.
So my sense is that if you agree to be his girlfriend, you’re not only disobeying your mom; you’re also setting up to disobey yourself! Whereas if you say to him, “I want to keep things just the way they are for now,” he’ll be disappointed, but your relationship with him will stay equal. And then, if later on, you actually want to be his girlfriend, you’ll have set the terms really well.
So my suggestion would be to do that. But what I want most is for you to make the decision yourself. Because that’s the basis of the future I most want for you.
All my best,