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 2: Anxieties about Love

Anxieties about Love


How Can I Get Her to Like Me?

Question: What does it take to let a girl know you like her, and then get her to like you back? I've tried and tried to show a girl that I like her, but it just doesn't seem to work.

Answer: I don't know what you've tried, so it's difficult for me to say why things haven't worked out. My guess is that, if you've "tried and tried," you have succeeded in showing your interest. You just haven't succeeded in the second step, getting her to like you back. I can't recommend any magic words or expensive colognes that will send her flying into your arms. But here are three things to keep in mind as you try to capture this girl's attention:

1) Girls like guys who show an interest in them. Try asking questions to find out her interests, her ideas. And listen to her answers!

2) Girls like guys who are thoughtful. Try remembering when she has a test, where she goes on vacation, when she has her next ballgame.

3) Girls like guys who have a life. Try volunteering, joining a club, organizing a game of ultimate Frisbee—and invite the girl to join you. You might notice that all three of these steps go hand-in-hand with friendship. So instead of plotting out how you are going to show your affections and get her to like you, set your goal on being her friend and don't worry so much about romance.


Scared to Talk to My Crush

Question: I've liked this guy in my youth group ever since I first met him. Sometimes I even think I love him. My problem is I can't talk to him. Whenever I try to say hello, my heart jumps into my throat, and I get extremely nervous. I can talk to him if he starts the conversation, but sometimes I think he may be getting the impression that I don't like him because I talk to every other guy in our youth group. Can you please tell me what to do?

Answer: As impossible as this may sound, I encourage you to try to stop thinking about romance with this guy. I know that will be tough. I remember what it's like to have a crush. But daydreaming about the relationship you could have together will only increase your jitters when you're around him. Instead of thinking about your love for him, think about ways you could get to know him.

Why not plan an outing with several of your friends from youth group and ask him to come along? Go out for pizza, or invite them all over to your house to play some games. Plan a scavenger hunt or some other creative group activity. Games that involve teamwork will allow you to interact and become more comfortable around him, and that can lead to conversation. Don't expect to become best friends right away, though. Like any good relationship, it will take time to develop. As you spend time with him in small group settings, your nervousness will probably fade. You may even find yourself wondering what caused your jitters in the first place.


Why Can't I Like Guys?

Question: I am a 16-year-old female, and I have a somewhat serious problem. I can't like guys. Don't get me wrong, I'm not attracted to girls. It's just that as soon as a boy shows interest in me, I stop liking him. I'm currently dating a guy and forcing myself to like him, just to see if I can. Don't worry, I am not going to lead him on. He knows we're just good friends, but I want to become less stubborn and allow myself to have feelings for a guy.

Answer: I'd encourage you not to spend much time worrying about it. Romantic relationships are by no means essential for life. Most people want them, and many worry they'll never get one, but these things usually work themselves out in good time. Some people are just more cautious, shy, or reserved than others. While some girls have a million boyfriends by the time they're in junior high, many don't have any until college age or even beyond. There's nothing wrong with that. It probably feels miserable, but it doesn't predict a life of misery.

Whether or not you fall in love with boys right now isn't something to be concerned about. What's important is that you can relate to them and that you feel fairly comfortable around them. If you're comfortable with boys, if you make them your friends, the time will come when something deeper begins to happen. Remember, you don't necessarily want to fall in love a hundred times. Once is enough.

Please don't try to force yourself to like a guy. It won't work, and it can only make you feel worse. But do keep putting yourself into situations where you have to relate to guys. And be patient with yourself. God will provide all you need in his own good time.


Scared to Ask Her Out

Question: I want a girlfriend. In fact, I have a particular girl in mind, but I don't have the guts to ask her out. This has always been a problem for me. I get nervous just thinking about it. I can't even bring myself to talk about it with my friends or my parents—I'd just feel too weird. Do you have any advice?

Answer: As a certified shy person, I sympathize. I can remember exactly how it felt to be paralyzed by a member of the opposite sex. Like most people, I got over it eventually, but not without some trauma along the way.

The only cure for shyness is to move forward one step at a time, breaking down your fears. One step you can take is by doing just what you say you can't—talking about it with friends. If you could do that, you would undoubtedly experience some relief. It's not as terrible as you think to admit what you're feeling. That could help push you toward the next step—actually talking to the girl you like.

Another way to overcome shyness is to build friendship bridges through activities. If you get involved with activities—school, church or otherwise—where you can talk to girls, you'll find it breaks down your inhibitions. Also, you might be able to find a common activity with a girl you're interested in—and get to know her without risking rejection. What does she like to do? Find out, and see if there's a way to get to know her better.

Still, sometime sooner or later you have to take an initiative. I'd look for small, low-risk beginnings, like a telephone call to ask her about a homework assignment or if she knows the date of an upcoming concert. Or how about, "Would you like to grab a bite to eat?" Some people find it easier to have a small party or picnic (six or seven people just hanging out on a Friday night) without having to single out someone special. Gradually, you can warm up to each other and gain confidence that she's not likely to reject you.


Am I Ready to Date?

Question: I've never had a boyfriend. Some of the books I've read say you should wait until your twenties, because that's when your character is fully developed, and that's when you can get married. I've also kept a list of mistakes to avoid that I've read about in these books. Now I think I'm ready to date, but I guess I'm afraid of doing anything wrong—I'm afraid I'll mess up or that I'll marry the wrong person and end up divorced. Recently, I met a guy while I was volunteering at a Christian camp and I think he liked me. But it totally scared me, and I ended up avoiding him as much as I could. Am I normal? How can I get ready to date? How do I get over this fear?

Answer: A lot can be said for the "no dating" philosophy, but it does often lead to a problem: You don't get to know any boys. You haven't experienced the strong feelings that come with romance (or even potential romance); and then when you do get these feelings for the first time, they can scare you. In situations like that, shy people can be terrified and paralyzed. People who are more comfortable in social situations might make hasty or irrational decisions.

The other thing I noticed in your question is that you are concentrating very hard on "doing" dating right. Reading and studying up on dating "do's and don'ts" is fine, but it can also make us think too much about it. Honestly, there's no cut-and-dried way to date. Every human interaction and relationship is different. Because of that, don't worry too much about making mistakes.

Here's the truth: You will make some mistakes. The guys you date will too. Don't fear them. Don't worry about saying or doing something dumb once in a while. That will happen. And God can use those mistakes to teach you and help you grow. So, it comes down to trusting God to guide you through relationships and to help you choose wisely.

To me, it sounds like you probably need friends who are guys more than a boyfriend right now. You need to be around guys so you learn to feel comfortable relating to them. I'm glad to hear that you volunteered at a camp. That's a good idea—and the type of activity that would allow you to meet guys who can be friends. Get involved with activities that put you close to boys. Make yourself say hi to them. Think in advance of a question you can ask them. Gradually your fears will fade.


Just a Crush?

Question: Last summer, I met a guy at the work camp I went to. When I first saw him there, I knew I'd think about him the whole week—and every time I saw him, I would get so happy. Even though we never spoke, I would try to get his attention. On the last day of camp, I worked up my courage and asked him for his e-mail. When I got home, I e-mailed him, but I never heard from him. I cried a couple of times because I missed him. I found out he has a girlfriend, but I still really like him. Do you think maybe God is trying to say that he'll be back in the future, and that's why I still think about him? Why do I feel this way?

Answer: You feel this way because you have a classic case of infatuation. It's nothing to feel embarrassed by. Everybody goes through it. It's thrilling and it's painful—and the feelings are so intense and real that they can cause us to forget we're not actually in a relationship with the person we feel so strongly about.

I don't think God is saying anything to you except this: You're human. Human beings tend to fall in love.

You can learn some lessons about yourself through all this. Infatuations help us learn how love feels, and they help us get used to powerful emotions that can make us do crazy things. Usually infatuations are harmless. Given enough time, or some other attractive guy who comes along, you'll forget about this feeling—especially if you don't dwell on it.

Eventually the infatuation will fade like last year's newspaper. Cry a little, dream a little—and invest your time and energy in people whom you actually know. Someday you'll enter a relationship that's real.


Am I Really in Love?

Question: My boyfriend and I are sophomores in high school and we've been dating for seven months. We waited almost six months to kiss, because we wanted it to be at the right time. We haven't said, "I love you," because both of us want to be certain that the person we say the "L-word" to is the one God wants us to marry. Plus, we agree that we are probably too young to be in a really serious relationship. We know we're likely to change a lot over the next few years.

Lately, though, we've been growing closer. We didn't want our relationship to get very serious, but now I feel like I do love him. I honestly don't know if this is just teenager lovey-dovey stuff, or if it's the real thing. I'm afraid to talk to my boyfriend about it right now, because I think he might feel the same way and I don't want to be any more exposed to temptations—emotionally and physically—than I already am.

What should I do? Is this real love, or are we too young to feel this way?

Answer: You sound very thoughtful and conscientious, and I'm sure you are in the kind of relationship that is helping both of you to grow.

You've picked up on something important—words mean different things to different people. For a lot of people, "I love you" is a statement of their feelings right this minute. It doesn't trouble them that tomorrow they might not "love you." They want to say what they feel.

For other people, "I love you" is about more than feelings. It sounds like this may describe you. For people like you, "I love you" is a strong statement of commitment. It's not exactly an engagement ring, but it's moving in that direction.

If I'm right about what these words mean to you, I think you're right not to say them. As you've said, you have a lot of growing to do in the next four or five years. Maybe you're better off not feeling that you're tied down by something you said.

Still, I'd urge you to talk honestly to your boyfriend about what you're feeling. You may not want to use the words, "I love you," but I think it's best to acknowledge that your relationship has taken a turn for the serious. It's good to be truthful with each other, and to deal with reality. It's true that this seriousness exposes you to greater emotional and physical temptation—but that's true whether you talk about this development in your relationship or not. One question you should ask: How do we build a relationship that can be healthy and right over a period of years—if that's what's in store for us?


Meant to Be Together?

Question: I have been going out with this girl for a while, but I don't know if we have a future together. How can I tell if I still like her? On a similar note, how can I tell if Satan put these doubts into my mind, or if God is telling me to find someone else?

Answer: I wouldn't blame your thoughts on God or Satan. I think they probably come from a natural thought process. As you think through where this particular relationship is headed, you can't help but have some doubts. It's perfectly normal.

Generally, I'd say if you can't tell whether you still like this girl, you probably don't. You shouldn't feel bad if your feelings have changed. It's normal to have an interest in more than one girl before you eventually find the right one to marry.

I think it's better to move on now rather than after months of an uncertain or unhappy relationship. Of course, breakups hurt, so please be as kind as possible when you break up with your girlfriend. In the long run, this breakup will be helpful because each of you will be free of a relationship that probably isn't helping either of you.


How Do I Know?

Question: I've been dating a guy for about a year, and we really have fun together. He says he loves me, but I've never responded, "I love you, too." I guess my question is, how do you know when you're in love? I mean, I'm 16 and I've never been this close to a guy before. I just don't know if I'm mature enough to know what love is. Can you help?

Answer: I'd like to start by looking at another important question: What should you say when he says "I love you"? Here's what you shouldn't say: "I love you too, if that makes you feel any better." If a guy loves you and wants to say so, that's wonderful, but it doesn't mean you're obliged to match his feelings. If you're unsure, you're unsure. Don't say what you don't mean, but don't answer with silence, either. That just leaves the guy hanging. Instead, try something like this: "I appreciate your telling me that, but it makes me feel a little awkward. See, I like you a lot, but I don't really know what love is yet. I don't want you to think I don't like you. I'm just not ready to use the 'L' word. When I am, you'll be the first to know."

We don't have scientific instruments to measure love. It's a powerful thing, but each individual has to figure out for herself or himself what it means. You can't compare notes with your friends. You can't say, "I'm at 6 on a scale of 10, and when I reach 7 I'll tell him I love him."

There's a certain amount of truth to the saying, "If it's really love, you'll know it." That's almost the same as saying, "Don't push ahead until you're really sure." In the Song of Songs, the Bible's great love poem, one phrase is repeated three times: "I want you to promise, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right" (8:4, NLT). Translated into contemporary language, that means, "Don't get ahead of yourself. Take your time in the game of love."


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.

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