By Stephanie Lynn, age 25, Massachusetts
It seldom works out - occasionally in the movies and on TV, rarer still in real life, and almost never over the long haul. "I understand him ... I can help him ... I can save him ... I'm in love with him." Or so the faulty logic goes ...
I recently received an advice question, and was moved to respond to it myself:
I started talking to this guy over a year ago, and we were both into it for a while, then we just grew apart. But just recently, I was hanging out with him when he was on Magic Carpet Ride (a drug) and I couldn't help my attraction to him.
Since then, we've talked a lot. When he gets depressed or pissed off he calls me in the middle of the night and I'm there for him. For some reason, I can always calm him down ... we love each other. He tells me he loves me like a sister and that I'm beautiful, and he's always going to be here for me. Before hanging up we always say "I love you". The problem is that I'm not sure how much I love him ... it's bad.
But recently, he got arrested and they put him in a psychiatric hospital for his anger issues. He's out now, but he's on lockdown, and he hasn't been there for me for a week now. I feel like I'm in a rut. I need advice on how to sort this out. P.S. He's f***ing gorgeous.
* Name has been changed.
I have little doubt that most of her friends (and certainly her parents, if they know what's going on) have advised Leah to forget about her handsome but troubled guy, and to choose to pursue a relationship with someone emotionally healthier. And I'm equally sure she has tuned out, perhaps angrily rejected, such advice, good as it is.
And so, I sent along Leah's message to a handful of our regular writers for their thoughts. Shanna jumped on the opportunity, and I'm grateful for her advice:
I understand your position completely. I have been in similar circumstances some years ago with a boy I had grown feelings for over the course of a couple months. It took some time before I took the shield from my eyes to see what kind of person he really was. Leah, I understand you love him and he loves you, but one thing about guys is when they say something, they mean what they say and are brutally honest. If he says he loves you like a sister and confides in you, accept that and be careful not to view a potential friendship in his eyes as a relationship.
Be careful not to get carried away because he says he loves you. You may end up getting your feelings hurt thinking it is something more, and this is the hardest way to learn, trust me. Remember, the first cut is the deepest.
If he has anger issues that are frequently getting him into trouble, your concern should be your safety while you are in his presence. Drugs are hallucinogens a lot of people use to escape reality. You don't want to be attracted to the person he is while he is mentally somewhere else.
My fear is one day he might direct his anger at you and hurt you. Remember, this is always possible, and if he is on drugs when he does it, he may not even remember. Even if he loves you, it does not mean he will not hurt you. It's the people we love who hurt us the most in life. Always remember, you are beautiful, inside and out. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You deserve to grow up with less worry than you have now. Choose wisely, and don't forget - your happiness is worth more than any guy. Be safe.
Shanna, 18, California
Helping needy people (whatever their needs) does meet a need of our own - the need to be valued, the need to have purpose, the need to be needed. We often become attached to people we invest in. Prison ministry volunteers tasked with visiting inmates have been known to fall in love with, work for the release of, and even marry men serving long, even life terms.
An "abusive, no good, bad news druggie" becomes "this really great guy nobody understands [except, of course, me]". He's always "changing" and "making progress" ... at least in our eyes.
People can and do change. But often they do not, and the real problem is that all objectivity has been lost. He still has anger issues, is still abusive, still on drugs, still drinks too much and loses control, and so on. "But he's trying his best; no one understands, no one supports him [except, again, me]. It's his abusive/alcoholic/unsupportive father, his friends who are a bad influence, his ... It's their fault."
Sometimes it takes an intervention. Sometimes it takes getting burned.
* * * * *
Here's another advice question about relationships I recently received:
I am going out with this lad, and I've known him a while, and I do have very strong feelings for him, but I know his mate, and I liked him before I met my bf. They are best friends, and I think I am falling for his mate. He knows I like him, and whenever I'm with my bf he is there, and I can't stop thinking about him. When I'm with him I talk to him more then my bf. He always talks to me and texts me and rings me, but my bf doesn't know I have feelings for his mate. I am regretting going out with my bf now because I really wanted a chance with his mate, and I don't think it is fair on my bf, and I don't know what to do. I like my bf a lot, but I can never really say I love him, but I really like his mate. What should I do? :/
Amy, 15, UK
Whether you realize it or not, I think you answered your own question. You said, "When I'm with him I talk to him more then my bf." And you said, "I am regretting going out with my bf now because I really wanted a chance with his mate." And finally, you said, "I don't think it is fair on my bf."
No, it isn't fair for your bf. So you need to tell him and break up - it's the right thing to do. Maybe later you will regret it, and maybe you will go back to him - I don't know - but remember, you're not committed in marriage to your bf. Teen dating is about learning who you are and what you want.
Just be kind about it, even if he is angry or hurt. In the long run, since you like someone else, it's the only thing you can do. Just remember, in marriage you do not have the right to switch your affections to your husband's friend (although some people do it anyway, and cheat, of course).
Enjoy being 15. :)