UB David + I'll B Jonathan, Inc.


Teen Issues: Friendship, Dating and Sex




Questions from real-life teens with answers from well known columnist, Tim Stafford.

Content originally appeared in Campus Life magazine. Copyright © 2001-2005 by columnist, Tim Stafford. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

UB David + I'll B Jonathan, Inc.


Teen Issues: Friendship, Dating & Sex

Teen Issues: Friendship, Dating & Sex

Questions from real-life teens with answers from well known columnist, Tim Stafford.

Lesson 1: Friendship…or Romance?

Friendship…or Romance?


I Just Want to Be Friends

Question: I went out with this girl at my church one time, but we broke up because we were better off just friends. We stayed friends, but lately she has been very touchy-feely with me, and is always hugging me. It makes me uncomfortable to have her acting like this. What should I do?

Answer: Talk to her. If you feel uncomfortable, chances are very good that she's dying inside. She's probably wondering whether she should talk to you.

Make your talk with her as comfortable as possible. Find a place where you'll have privacy, and have uninterrupted time to talk. Don't start the conversation by asking her what she's feeling—that will just put her on the spot. Do express what you're feeling and thinking.

She should understand that the original decision to stop dating was a good one, because you've been able to stay good friends. Let her know her friendship is important to you. Then carefully and gently explain that you're uncomfortable and confused when she hugs you and pays a lot of attention to you. Her actions make you wonder what's going on. Explain that your feelings haven't changed. You still very much want to be her friend, but you aren't interested in romance. When you've finished explaining your feelings, ask her how she feels about what you've said.

I'm sure it won't be easy to have this talk with her. And I imagine you'll get a very emotional reaction. Your friend may shed tears, she may be angry, she may even say mean words to you. Is it worth it? I think so. This way she gets the dignity of knowing where she stands, and she can begin to move on. It may not be easy for her, nor for you, but uncertainty has to be worse.



Can We Still Be Friends?

Question: There's a girl I've been good friends with for about a year. A few months ago we kinda had a one-month fling. Basically, we let things go a little too far. Now we don't speak to each other. I still want to be friends, but I don't know how to approach her about it. Can you help me? I don't want to lose her friendship.

Answer: I'd suggest you write her a short note that says something like this: "I know it's over. I know I did some things I regret. But I still want to be your friend. Do you think there's any way we could talk about it?" Tell her you'll call her after she's had time to think about what you've said.

When you call, begin your conversation by telling her just what you said in the note. Emphasize that you don't want to get romantically involved again, but you'd like to be friends. Give her a chance to tell you how she feels about your relationship, and listen carefully to what she says. Then see if there are some practical plans you can make to be friends again.

I must warn you, though, that sometimes it's not possible to be friends again. Sometimes the emotions are too raw. If she says no, write her another note that says you'll leave it up to her—the door is always open from your side. Then move on.



I Don't Want a Serious Relationship

Question: A friend and I have gone out on a couple of dates, and I think things are maybe getting serious. The last time we went out, we almost kissed. The thing is, I don't know if I'd like to be in a serious relationship. But I'd miss her if we weren't friends. How do I tell her this? Do you think we can still be friends?

Answer: Yes, but it's better to talk to her now rather than later. Why? She'll probably feel disappointment no matter when you have this talk. But it will be worse if you wait. As you talk to her keep it positive. Tell her you definitely like her and want to spend time with her, but don't feel ready for a serious relationship. Ask her: Would you still want to spend time with me knowing that I want to keep things on the lighter side? Tell her you'd understand if she felt awkward about an undefined relationship, but you hope you can enjoy each other's company in spite of that.



Not Ready for a Lasting Commitment

Question: I am 16 years old. I've been with my boyfriend for almost two years and we've been very serious. We've even promised each other that we'd get married. But now I'm not sure that this is the guy God wants me to marry, even though he's wonderful and treats me very well. When I'm honest with myself, I don't think I've ever been in love with him. I mean, I love him, but I think I would rather be friends. Still, I feel like I can't break up with him. He is my best friend in the world, and I couldn't bear to hurt him because I know he's in love with me. I just need to know if God will work this out in his own way. Will God lead my boyfriend and me to the people we're supposed to marry?

Answer: You're definitely in a tough spot. But things will only get tougher if you don't have an honest talk with your boyfriend. It's clear from your letter you aren't in love with him. If he really is your best friend in the world, you should be able to tell him what you feel.

You're right to think the truth will hurt him, unless his thinking tracks with yours and he's afraid to tell you. But do you think it will hurt less a year from now? The longer you conceal your feelings from this guy, the more pain he'll feel when he finds out. If you were in your boyfriend's position, wouldn't it hurt to know he had let you believe something untrue about the relationship?

Your final question gets to the heart of the issue. Do you trust that God will take good care of both you and your boyfriend? If you do, you don't have to manage everything yourself. Your job is to do what's right—to be truthful and kind. God will take care of the rest.



She Doesn't Like Me "That Way"

Question: I've known a girl from my youth group for a long time, and we've been very close friends for a couple of years. For several months, I've liked her in a romantic way. I couldn't decide whether or not I should tell her about my feelings. When I finally did, she told me that she didn't want to date anyone.

The thing is, she's dated two guys since then and didn't even mention it to me. Now it feels like we're not as close as we were. I'm afraid she was just trying to "break it gently" when she said she didn't want to date anyone—instead of telling me she doesn't like me that way. Was it stupid to tell her how I felt? How can we go back to being friends like before?

Answer: No, you weren't stupid. You were brave. You took a risk. You like her, and you told her so. She doesn't feel the same way about you—at least, not right now. Now you know.

It definitely would have been better if she had been more direct, but she clearly didn't want to hurt you. Don't be too hard on your friend. It's tough to know how to tell someone who has romantic feelings for you that you don't feel the same way. I'll bet she probably feels weird now, not only because of your different feelings for one another, but because she knows she wasn't straightforward with you.

Reach out to her and tell her it's OK. Write her a note or talk to her in person. Tell her you value her friendship and hope you can resume that friendship with no hard feelings. You'll probably still feel weird for a while, but those feelings will fade if you keep trying.



Can We Be Friends Again?

Question: I really thought I was in love with my best friend. I've liked her for a while now, but I was too shy to tell her. I decided to take a risk and tell her how I feel, and it ruined everything. Now I feel like I've lost my best friend because she didn't want more than a friendship. Is there anything I can do to go back to being friends with her?

When a big wave washes over you, it can tumble you

Answer: Just wait. Right now, your emotions are intense and you probably can't find the calmness and peace to be her friend. She probably feels mixed up, too. This doesn't mean the friendship is gone forever, though. Have you ever swum in the ocean? When a big wave washes over you, it can tumble you like clothes in a washing machine. At that moment you can only hold your breath and wait for the wave to move on toward shore. Emotions are like that too: You'll find that they eventually fade and you can move on. Your relationship will never again be exactly the same, but after this awkwardness goes away, you will probably get your friend back. In fact, getting these emotions in the open may even help you become stronger and better friends, if you're patient.



Expecting Too Much?

Question: My boyfriend and I have been together for almost three years, and we really care about each other. When our anniversary comes up, I'd like him to give me a promise ring. He says he doesn't want to spend a lot of money, but I told him for me it's more about the commitment than the money. He doesn't understand why I'd like a ring to show his commitment. I don't want to push him into something he's uncomfortable with, but I also want to know if he's truly serious about our relationship and feels that it could eventually lead to marriage. Do you think I'm expecting too much from him?

Answer: Absolutely. It sounds like you're pushing him to take a step he's not ready to make. If you nag him he may come up with a ring, but what does that gain you? A guy who feels pushed around and manipulated, that's what. You won't know if the ring represents his commitment or your pressure. You need to stop and ask why a promise ring is so important to you. Are you insecure about whether your boyfriend really cares for you? A promise ring won't solve that problem. If you are confident he is committed, ask yourself why you need an outward sign of it. This might be something to think and pray about, too.

It may be a good idea to simply ask your boyfriend where he sees your relationship heading. If it's really important to you to know whether this relationship may lead to marriage, you need to talk to him about it. Whether or not you like his answer, you'll then be able to decide whether you want to stay with him or feel like you need to move on.

Your boyfriend has to come to commitment on his own timing, with or without a ring. I know it feels distressing if you're ready to commit and he isn't. If this is the case, don't try to rush things. That's like looking in the oven while the cake is baking. You won't hurry the baking, and you might make the cake go flat. The only promise worth having is one made freely and joyfully.



Should I Give Up?

Question: Earlier this year, I met a girl I really, really like. The problem is, when we'd met, she'd just broken up with her boyfriend and was really hurting. We became friends, and it made me feel good to listen to her talk about her feelings. A couple of months went by, and I waited as long as I could to tell her I like her. She told me she's not ready for another relationship, but that I shouldn't give up on her. I'm not really sure what that means. I like her so much, and I've tried to respect her space. Every time I think I should just give up, something tells me to hang on. What do you think I should do? What does "I'm not ready, but don't give up" mean?

Answer: To me, it sounds like this girl is definitely interested in you. But she's also feeling unsure of herself during this very emotional time. I think this is what she means by what she said. She wants to avoid becoming part of another relationship while she's hurting and thinking about her old boyfriend. At the same time, she values your friendship and could maybe eventually see the two of you together. She just doesn't want you to think the door will always be shut.

If I were you, I'd just be her friend right now. That's what she needs. And by keeping honest conversations going, you can ask her again in a couple of months if she's interested in a relationship. At the same time, I don't think you should be too worried or let this be the only thing you focus on. Make sure you're still involved with your other interests. Don't assume this relationship will take off. If you'd like to go out on dates with other girls, feel free to. There are no guarantees, but you may have a chance if you give her some time to heal and feel ready.



Isn't God Enough?

Question: I'm tired of hearing about love all the time. I guess that's because nothing romantic has ever worked out for me. Girls are always telling me what a great friend I am, but no one ever seems interested in being more than friends. I would give just about anything to not even want a girlfriend or a wife someday. Why can't I just be happy with God's eternal, unconditional love? Shouldn't that be enough?

Answer: If you read the first chapters of Genesis, you'll find the answer to your question. Adam had God's company, but nevertheless something was lacking. God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him" (Genesis 2:18, NIV). The Creator designed us for human companionship. Something deep inside us longs for the partnership of the opposite sex.

At the same time, we don't live in the Garden of Eden. Relationships are difficult. We don't often get exactly what we long for. Most people experience struggle and loneliness, at least at times. You are certainly not the only one.

Still, good things can come out of those times of struggle and loneliness—like maturity, patience and hope. This is what Paul explains in Romans 5:3-4: "Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope" (NIV). For you, the challenge is to hang in there, not to become bitter and hopeless.

I encourage you to resist the temptation to be bitter. Keep your sense of humor and maintain a positive outlook. Don't let your disappointment ruin friendships. Be grateful that people call you a great friend!

It's likely you'll find love someday. And if you don't find that kind of love? Then God can provide other joys. You can count on him to take care of you. That's fundamentally what this discussion comes to: trusting him, whether or not things turn out the way you plan.


Questions from real-life teens with answers from well known columnist, Tim Stafford.

Content originally appeared in Campus Life magazine. Copyright © 2001-2005 by columnist, Tim Stafford. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Real Time Web Analytics