I need your help. You see, there’s this guy at school and I really like him. I know for a fact that he used to like me. He still might, but I’m not sure. He’s the type of guy that can get pretty hyper sometimes, but other times he’s kinda shy. He and I used to talk a whole lot, but lately he hasn’t been paying much attention to me.
I got him a CD for Christmas by one of his favorite bands. He didn’t get me anything. I’m fine with that—I told him not to get me anything. But still, it’s not like him.
He’s been so shy lately. Now he won’t even talk to me. Whenever I log onto AIM, he’ll sign off within a minute without having said a word to me. He’s been acting like this for the past two weeks. I’m so confused. Did I do something wrong? Why is he acting like this? If he still does like me and he’s just being shy again then how can I tell? I don’t know what to do.
I know how you feel. It’s probably silly of me to point it out, because I’m sure that before sending this message you would have combed the archived letters in great detail searching for someone with a similar situation, but your problem is not unique. Oh, sure, you’re going to come up with all sorts of little nuances that make this guy and this girl different from every other pimply teenager on the planet, but when it comes down to it, you’re all a part of the same hyper-emotional mob of raging hormones.
Luckily for you, it wasn’t so long ago that I was popping pimples in front of the bathroom mirror. And even if it was, I get enough letters from you hornballs to remind me what it was like every day of the week. So, it’s basically taken me two paragraphs to let you know that, as much as it pains me to go over this yet again, you’ve come to the right place.
The fundamental barrier between men and women, between pimply teenage boys and pimply teenage girls, and between small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri and small furless creatures from Alpha Cenauri, is that we’re all freaking terrified of each other. We’re all so damn scared that we could be rejected, that could get our feelings hurt, that instead of taking that risk and actually talking to one another, we prefer to send wistful letters to online advice columnists—or, God forbid, call in to radio talk shows—who we know can’t possibly understand us, and who certainly won’t take us seriously. And that’s why the vast majority of us live solitary cubicle lives basking in the glow of a cathode ray tube and riddled with carpal tunnel syndrome. Frankly, it’s a wonder that any of us ever get together.
So, since my vast experience and limitless wisdom both lead me to concede that it’s beyond my abilities to break down this barrier for all time, we’re going to have to settle for a quick fix to your own little dilemma. So, you can’t get this guy to pay attention to you, despite having given him gifts and harassing him with instant messages. Probably he’s stopped returning the three or four phone calls and six or seven e-mails you send his way each day, as well, am I right?
Well, it sounds to me like we have a classic case of smothering behavior. At one time, this guy was probably genuinely interested in you. I can’t say, based on the limited input provided in your letter, whether he “liked” you or “like-liked” you, but, in any case, the fact that he used to talk to you is a good sign. The shyness, of course, came because he was terrified of you. But he was probably terrified in the sense that he was afraid you might not like him, more than in the sense that if he says a wrong word around you you could snap and grab the nearest butcher knife, leaving him holding his entrails in a warm, gooey mass as he bleeds to death on his kitchen floor.
So, the first thing you have to do is back off. Don’t stalk him in the halls, and don’t chase him around cyberspace. And, for the love of all that is Big N’ Tasty, don’t dial his phone number for at least a month! This will let him know that you’ve decided to move on. Now, depending on how badly you’ve already messed this boy up, it will either provide him with a welcome rest period, or it will help him realize just how much he does like having you around. Then, when the time is right, he might just send an instant message to you.
Then again, that may all be a bunch of crap. Maybe you should just get one of your friends to pass a note to one of his friends. A note, if you’re not familiar with the concept, is what people used to use to communicate with the opposite sex before AOL. What you do is, using a pen or pencil (archaic writing instruments that your parents will have access to), scribble out a message onto a piece of paper (again, ask parents if not familiar with the concept of paper), asking if he likes you. The friends act as a very nice buffer to the rejection, if rejection is what is to come of all this. And when it’s all over, you can re-direct all of your anger and frustration at the friend who bore the bad news, rather than having to take any responsibility for yourself.
I hope you see my point in all this nonsense. Being shy is stupid; it’s a shame to waste all that precious teen angst by bottling it up inside of yourself. If you don’t actually go up and talk to this guy, or to the next one, the next time you speak to him may be at some high school reunion in ten years, when the conversation will be all about his great new wife and their second kid on the way, while you’re left alone with your carpal tunnel.