One week ’til Valentine’s Day. Non-stop teen emails scream for my attention and romantic advice. Not sure how I became such an expert. I mean, honestly, if some fortune teller sidled up to me in 7th grade and whispered “Some day, Annie, you will be a relationship guru sought after by thousands for your expansive knowledge of love,” I’d have choked on my incredulity then looked around to see which of the Popular Girls was messing with me.
But that was then and now apparently people actually believe I know something about love and the rest of it. Here are some questions from recent seekers:
My best friend has a great boyfriend. I’m happy for her, but I’m also extremely jealous and I feel like I can’t find anyone. I’m definitely not ugly. I’m pretty, smart, funny, easygoing and friendly. But why is it that I can’t find a nice guy who is interested in me?!
Any guy I crush over does not feel the same about me. They always have a reason why I’m not “The One.” What can I do to get guys to like me???
And just so you don’t get the impression these are exclusively “girl” issue, check out these poignant queries from guys:
Whenever I see this girl that I’m really in love with I freeze up and don’t know what to say. I would do anything in my power for her. Can you please give me some tips on what to say to her? I would really appreciate it.
Freeze up Dude
I’m 15 and I really want to be with someone and share feelings and secrets and also we can support each other. The problem is that I’m not a popular guy and I’m rejected by many people at school (I used to get picked on and bullied for no reason). I’ve asked girls out a couple of times but they all rejected me.
If one of these kids were your son or daughter of course you’d want to ease their suffering, but how? First with the recognition that we’ve all been there. Too shy to talk to a crush and frustrated by our own boundless ineptitude. Lonely. Desperate to be part of a couple. Crazy jealous of a friend who had a bf/gf. Then there was the inescapable fear that no one would fall in love with us… ever!
If Valentine’s Day is bringing your kid down, try to be empathetic. Take the lead and open a respectful conversation about it. This could be a great opportunity to show some compassion and understanding. That’s going to make your child feel better while it strengthens your bond. Please do not joke about, trivialize or invalidate their pain. Teen angst is real and it hurts.
So remember your kid this Monday. You’re not the love of his or her life, or a close substitute, but when they’re feeling unloved or unlovable (like Freeze Up Dude and the gang) it’s nice to know that Mom or Dad cares.
On a personal note: My father never forgot me on Valentine’s Day. His thoughtfulness was especially important during my “Everyone’s got a boyfriend but me” phase. I knew Dad loved me and that counted a lot. He died suddenly when I was 15 and I still smile at the memory of a tiny bottle of L’Air Du Temps he gave me on Valentine’s Day when I was 12.