Direct Answers – Out of Bounds, Off The Mark

Out Of Bounds

I am 16, 17 in a few months. I have fallen head over heels for a man who is 21. He was my camp counselor.

We talk at least once a week and we talk about everything. Especially deep stuff. I know he genuinely cares about me, but I don't know if he likes me as more than friends. When I confronted him about how I felt, he said, "I'm a counselor and you're a camper, but I do care about you."

Yet his actions say otherwise. He gets nervous around me. He always puts his arm around me. He held me to make sure I didn't fall. He said 17 is acceptable for him to date. All my friends noticed his actions, too.

I don't know if he's saying he doesn't like me that way because of his job, of if he actually doesn't like me that way.

Please help. I don't know what to do and I love this man.

~ Gwen

Gwen, at your age a five year age difference is a lifetime. He is an adult male, of drinking age,  working a job. You are still legally a child, living at home, with your parents as your guardians.

Do you think your level of maturity is the same as it will be when you are a junior in college? No. Not only will you be older, you will be much more sophisticated. Do you think you should date a 12-year-old boy? Of course not. He would be much less sophisticated than you are.

And if you were 37 with a 16-year-old daughter, what would you think? My child has a crush on an adult male.

There must be equality between two people in a relationship. Your counselor's employer and the parents who send their children to camp have entrusted him to act with honor and character and restraint. He was not hired to get involved with the children he is paid to protect.

At your age you will have feelings for people, but it doesn't mean those feelings are appropriate and should be reciprocated. There must be guidelines and boundaries. He needs to practice professional distance and you need not to pursue him.

Talk your feelings over with your parents, especially your mother. If this relationship has to be secret, if it has to be hidden, if it involves lying, something is wrong. You aren't in love with someone you are not dating. There can't be love between two who are not equals.

~ Wayne & Tamara

Off The Mark

How can I know if the person I am with right now is someone I love or someone I like?  This man is caring, sweet, understanding and besides that, he has flaws I accept. It makes him who he is right now. He is full of funny thoughts and doesn't want me to sulk on sadness or grief.

He is the person I want to be with for a lifetime.

~ Madison

Madison, it sounds like you are going down a mental checklist: he's a great person, I accept him for who he is, he cheers me up. Is that what people in love ask? Do we question what we know is true?

A list of attributes is not the same as love. Love is not quantifiable, and the problem with a checklist is that it can highlight the positives while ignoring the negatives. But if you stay together, the negatives will always assert themselves.

You need to be a little more honest with yourself. Look inward. Is there a reason you doubt his love? Does the doubt reside with you, perhaps because of a bad experience with someone else, or is the doubt due to him?

Loving someone, there is no checklist. It's like what we know instinctively. Is this art, or is this just someone who knows how to paint?

You are asking for advice on something only you can judge.

~ Wayne & Tamara

Column for the week of February 1, 2016

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