Dear Dr. Wes and Miranda: I’m having conflicting views on a boy right now. Last night we were watching a movie together and started making out. I stopped him and made sure he knew that we weren’t going to have sex, and he said he was fine with it. But while he was in the bathroom I looked at his text messages and saw that this girl he was talking to was like “I wanna be in ur arms right now.” She sent hearts to him and he was sending hearts back. I didn’t tell him that I’d peeked, but just left and went home. Do I slowly edge away from him, confront him about the messages, or just ignore it? I like hanging out with him a lot, but I don’t want to be that girl who he just makes out with and never sees as anything more than that.
Miranda: First things first: Grab your phone and find his number. Now delete it. Just walk away, because this guy isn’t good enough for you. He’s not good enough for any girl. There are plenty of nice guys out there who will commit to you and treat you with respect.
There’s a lot of pressure being in a high school relationship, but people have started using the “uncommitted” mind-set as an excuse to be emotionally involved with multiple people. A situation like this creates jealousy, but, unlike an official relationship, it’s hard to call out your partner for making you feel this way. Anyone who wants to pursue multiple girls won’t change his mind-set even if you two became official.
There is another component to your letter that concerns me. You went through this guy’s text messages. That’s a habit you’ve got to kick. If you’re in a relationship one day, spying won’t be acceptable. I understand that this guy’s actions seemed a little shady, but if you don’t want to worry about whether someone is being honest, hang out with honest people.
Relationships are built on trust, and any guy will be able to tell if you don’t trust him. Just remember that this guy is not the only option; there are so many good, honest, trustworthy guys out there. We’re in high school and no one’s perfect, but if you let him go, you’re opening yourself up to meet someone who won’t make you feel like you need to read through his phone log.
Wes: I’m with Miranda. Guys and girls seem to have a hard time on two fronts these days: deciding exactly what relationship they’re in or want to be in and acting within an ethical framework while being in them. Unfortunately, I know where teens are getting their values regarding relationships, fidelity and the just treatment of others: directly from adults. On the whole, society isn’t exactly handing down great portions of integrity to our kids, and that’s showing up in situations like the one you describe.
The other problem here is one of tolerance, which Miranda is showing very little of toward your boy. I suggest you join her. The truth is that guys will generally behave about as well as they’re expected to by the girls they show interest in. If you tolerate being a make-out buddy, you’re rewarding his casual behavior, just as if you gave your dog a treat every time he messed on your carpet. I say, no treats for this guy.
I, too, am uncomfortable with your text browsing, but for a slightly different reason. Going on a spying rampage never made any boy trustworthy. Just annoyed. If you want to be treated ethically, you have to act ethically. Of course you’ll get taken advantage of a few times on that high moral ground, but you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you didn’t stoop to dirty tricks to prove a guy is loyal. Besides, if you have to keep proving it, it’s already proven.
Next week: Adolescent stress in anxious times.