DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: There is this guy that I’ve liked for 3-4 years almost, and well he’s pretty confusing. First things first, he’s an introvert, he does not talk a lot, and secondly it depends on who he opens up to. He and I met in the first year of high school and we barely talked. We started talking a bit, because of our mutual friends, then there came to a point where I think he thought I liked him (I didn’t, yet) and he became rude to me without an explanation. I started disliking him completely.
But the year after, our 2nd year, I don’t remember how, but we just started talking more and more till we got close. I shared some of my personal things with him, and he kind of did too, he tried telling me to go where he went, but I didn’t because I had no ride, then he would recommend good movies to me, (which i watched) and he was surprisingly nice. We had late night conversations, but all of a sudden he just became rude which made me want to back away, because I thought that it might be because we’re always together. But he would do that so suddenly.
I will say, that year he, his friend, and I went to eat for my birthday; I’d asked him the day before, but he kept thinking too much about it, but finally decided to a yes. Well after that school year ended we did not talk over the summer, we took a long pause (you could say that) when we went back to the third year we barely talked. That whole year we barely had any contact; he stopped texting me, I stopped texting him, then we got to see each other a week before schools closed because of the pandemic. Within those 5 months, we did not have any type of communication — none at all. I was still having a hard time because I wanted to text but, I didn’t want to be the first.
Well our last year started and we didn’t get to see each other at all, there came to a point where I literally started forgetting about him, I started working and I met another guy, who is now a very good friend. We started getting along and I felt comfortable with him. I joined soccer and, well, only the friends I stayed in contact with knew.
Well all of a sudden, after school had completely started, I got a phone call; I wasn’t sure who it was, but it was my old friend. I’d deleted him from my contacts. He called me, saying he didn’t know I got a job and that I joined the team, and said that he hadn’t known I got a boyfriend. Thing is, everything except the boyfriend part was true. I asked him how did he know, and told me his friend told him. Now I was upset with myself because I knew my feelings were going to come back, and they did, after I tried not talking to him anymore but I still did. I even asked him to give me rides, which he surprisingly did.
Now here’s the funny part, I feel like he wants to act rude again, and well I don’t want to deal with that anymore. I was planning on confessing my feelings to him on graduation day, but all my friends suggested for it to be soon and well I did. I just sent a text and he didn’t look at it. I called him but it was late. He responded in the morning through normal messages instead from where I messaged him, so I have a feeling he did see the text. I’m honestly confused and I just wanted to let it all out.
What’s your opinion on this matter?
DEAR CONFUSED GIRL: My opinion is that this is why dating in high-school is a chaotic mess and shouldn’t be taken all that seriously.
OK, so that’s not terribly helpful. Let’s back up and try this again.
The way you and he relate to each other sounds like half the time you and he don’t know whether you’re coming or going. Half the time you like each other, half the time you’re painfully irritated by each other and can’t stand to talk to one another. Half the time you’re friends, half the time, one or the other is grumpy, annoyed and rude to the other. While this is very much “life as a teenager”, it’s a bad basis for a relationship. While blowing hot and cold is sometimes treated as a sign of passion — generally people can’t get under your skin unless you and they are particularly close or into one another — it also means that the relationship itself is a turbulent mess. That sort of on-again-off-again vibe makes for great teen dramas on Netflix or the CW, but it’s a massive pain in the ass to go through in real life. Especially when there’s little time left and graduation is looming like Banquo’s ghost at the feast.
But the bigger issue here is… well, the fact that neither of you can seem to spit out what you’re thinking or feeling. And yeah, I get that you two are teenagers (holy borsht you all are so painfully young) but being able to actually, y’know, talk about the shit that’s bothering you is a vital relationship skill. If both of you respond to conflict with the silent treatment and cutting each other off, then it means you’re going to be spending more time not talking and not seeing each other in the weeks and months you have left. Similarly, it seems like he responds to his frustration with you — what sure as hell seems like a “I like her but I can’t say anything and that’s getting on my nerves” situation — with rudeness, sullenness and silence. That’s not cool in general but it’s also counterproductive for things like a healthy and stable relationship.
Once again, the whole tsundere “I like you/I’m angry/I’m angry that I like you” thing works in manga, less so in reality.
(Actually, if I’m being honest, it’s a trope I roll my eyes at in manga and it leads towards long rants about how much the relationships dynamics annoy the piss out of me.
I’m really fun at parties.)
So TL;DR: no, I don’t think this is a relationship that’s going to work. Not as you all are now, at least. Leaving aside how statistically few relationships in high-school last past graduation, neither of you are actually using your words here. If you — or he — want to make a relationship out of this or even help this friendship survive, you both are going to have to work on saying what’s on your mind in a clear and concise manner… and ideally without getting so frustrated with each other that you go back to no-contact and deleting each other from your phones again. That includes being able to admit how you feel, not just letting irritation at things bubble into resentful silence from either or both of you and actually talking things out without it turning into a weird passive-aggressive left-on-read fest.
Now to be fair: this isn’t exactly a skill that high-schoolers excel in because, well, ya’ll are high-schoolers. That’s not a dig at high-schoolers, it’s just a factor of age and circumstance. Between the volatility of emotions at that age, the medium-security-gen-pop atmosphere of most high-school social scenes and an overall lack of experience and perspective, it’s goddamn hard to express yourself clearly. Half the time, you aren’t sure how you’re feeling, never mind knowing how to put those chaotic feelings into words that make sense to anyone who isn’t actually in your head. It’s the sort of skill that’s perfected over time, as you gain maturity and experience and things start to settle down enough that you don’t feel like you’re about to explode every five seconds.
But it’s also perfected with practice… so I’d recommend starting that practice now. I don’t think you and your buddy are in any position as you are right now to make things work. But if you — and he — work on your communication skills and stay in touch after graduation? Well… you two might find yourselves in a place where it can. It doesn’t sound like the two of you are in a place where you’re right for each other. But with time, experience and practice… you could get there in the end.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com