Gabriel H. asks: I’m an 8th grader and I kinda have a crush on this new transfer student in the 7th grade. I know about her because she’s in the same class as my little brother. I heard from my bro that she’s very shy and quiet and never smiles. I wasn’t interested at first, but one day on a weekend, I went out to run some errands and when I was passing by the park, I saw the girl and she was playing with a little girl which I assume was her sister, and she was smiling and laughing with the her. And I guess, I fell for her. I told my bro about it and he teased me, but he promised to help me out. The next day, he had a study group at out house and he invited the girl. I tried to be friends with her but I discovered that she has an extreme case of boy phobia. The only reason she agreed to go to a study group with my bro was that one of her friends liked my bro’s best friend and she came to support her. I really want to help her out with her problem and get to know her but how can I when I’m her fear itself? Help!
Hi Gabriel H. –
I think this problem is a lot more common than most people think. I see it all the time – very nice teens, who like and want to be liked, but are afraid of where things might lead with potential romantic partners. I think there are two main reasons for this. One is a very intelligent fear of things going too far physically, and not being able to keep that from happening. The other is, very often, a fear of growing up, leaving childhood behind. Peter Pan loved Wendy, but he didn’t want to become her boyfriend, or certainly her husband!
The solution for someone like you, Gabriel H., is to meet this girl where she is. If you ask her out to a romantic movie, she’s going to be scared, and probably say “no.” But if you befriend her, she will likely warm up to you, and learn to trust you. And while I can’t guarantee that that friendship will turn into something more, it’s really the only way it can happen.
So what do I mean by “befriend?” Well, for starters, just talk with her. If she’s scared at first, big deal! You were at a study group with her, so talk about the stuff you’re studying. If she’s new at the school, there’s a really good chance she needs some help with some of her classes. Be that nice guy who helps her out. And even if she doesn’t show it, she’ll almost certainly really appreciate it.
The most important, and toughest, part of this, Gabriel H., is that your goal here is to get her to like and trust you so much that she moves ahead in her own desires, and starts thinking about you as a potential boyfriend. If you’re trying to win her before then, the best you can hope for is that she’ll be begrudgingly willing, “because I’m supposed to and everyone does it.” But if you become her trusted friend she counts on, and she starts looking at you as someone, something, kind of special and wonderful, and then you, without breaking her trust, can show that you’re interested in her too, THEN it can work.
It’s a tough tightrope, I know. It’s way easier for me – shy scared girls see me and instantly pet me and kiss my nose, because they know that doing so won’t push them out of the stage of life they’re comfortable in. But then, it never goes beyond that either – which is really fine for a pup like me. Your job will be to navigate it all later on.
But for now, just be really really nice. Be helpful, be funny, be the guy who pulls her in to social events. And be safe. Be what she can trust. That’s what she needs right now.
The rest can follow. Here’s hoping it does!