I cannot stop thinking about him

-- Question for John --

I’m 16 and have liked this guy for almost 4 years, and to make things even more complicated we were once best friends! Anyway, I actually kind of think that I’m in love with him, like real love, and I know he knows but I don’t know if he feels the same way I do because he sometimes acts like he does but he sends kind of mixed signals and I’m not sure what he means by them.

Anyway that’s beside the point. The reason I wanted to email you is because it makes me feel really bad all the time like depressed and I know it’s not depression but I seem to always be sad about it and it makes me miserable, and my friends, too. I try to get over him but it doesn’t work every time I try harder not to like him it just seems like I like him even more than before. I just thought maybe you had some words of wisdom or something you could say that might help. Thank You.

-- Answer from John --

I hear from many teenagers and I know that the pains and confusion of love at this age is very difficult to deal with. You are coming to know your feelings, but are confused by these feelings. And there are alot of other issues going on at the same time.

Guys even more than girls tend to be totally confused and unreliable at this age, when it comes to anything like love. And it is very difficult for many of them to develop any degree of reliability around loving until they are well into their 20’s. I imagine that the issues of how a guy is with his buddies — and the image he has to maintain of really being a “guy” if you know what I mean — this runs contrary to the openhearted way someone has to be if they are going to handle the feelings of love.

I hear from teenagers who are frequently getting involved, then splitting up, changing partners overnight, all very quickly — and creating much pain for the ones who really do love deeply and want more reliability.

I would recommend that you think of it this way for awhile. Take life real slow in the love department. You are learning to deal with strong emotions. Know that this is your real job right now.

Hooking up with a guy is certainly going to be a very strong impulse for you. But especially if you are a deep feeling person — which it certainly sounds like you are — then you are going to need to take your life really slow.

Because you have to make sure you learn enough in the meantime — and don’t just get lost in emotional dramas with guys. These dramas really take off bigtime if you actually make the moves and hook up with a guy. Then it is the real roller coaster.

So focus on gaining your own inner emotional stability. Make that your real priority. Perhaps learn to meditate. Or read books about relationship. Educate yourself. And find some adult woman you trust — to talk with and get support from.

If you are really upset and depressed, and you are having real problems emotionally over this stuff, then please do ask your parents to let you see a counselor. Teenage depression is very treatable. It is not something you have to “bear” and pretend about. Getting help is the smart thing.

Getting help can truly be a lifesaver — as well as a road to really learning early in life how to deal with love and relationships and avoid disasters.