I have a crush on this friend of mine. A couple of minor physical things have happened between us, but he doesn’t go to my school, so I usually have to wait a couple of months to see him again, and meanwhile I’m losing my mind! We talk on Facebook regularly, but he hasn’t made any moves toward becoming a couple or anything. I can’t stop thinking about him. Do you think it’s worth pursuing a relationship with him if it’s making me so crazy? —M

I know all too well the mind-melting crush fever of which you speak, and it seems to me that the easiest, swiftest, and most honest way to break this delirium is simply to TELL THE TRUTH about the burning fire of your heart ’n’ loins! If you have something to say to this dude, sing it from the rooftops! Obviously, declaring your love to a crush is way less hysterically terrifying and impossible-seeming in theory than in practice, but if not pursuing a relationship with him is what’s driving you so crazy, it might be time to just get honest with the kid and make your move. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a big move—just something to steer what sounds like a good friendship in a more romantical direction.

It’s quite possible that your crush is reciprocal, based on your past history and sustained friendship (especially as it’s lasted in spite of the different-schools thing). But even if it’s not, at least you’ll know, and be able to move on to someone worthier of your devotion. (I was always surprised at how easily I shrugged off crushes I’d been OBSESSED with once it came to light that they didn’t feel quite as passionately as I did.) So, in my opinion, pursuing a relationship with him, or telling him how you feel, or maybe even just suggesting you go to the movies next weekend, will probably exorcise a few of the crush-demons clogging up your neurons and give you some clarity about what’s going on.

But…let me just follow this up with some entirely conflicting advice! While I believe that being honest, true to yourself, and unashamed to speak your mind are always the basic answer to any problem eating at anyone, ever, it’s occurred to me lately that it also never hurt anyone to bide their time a little bit and keep their cards close to their chests. Basically, I’ve been wondering if maybe some of the times I let myself be led by my EMOTIONS when it came to boys (by speaking my mind/declaring my love/keying their car), I should have maybe just shaddup and done nothing besides wait to see what else was going to happen. Time is a crusher’s nemesis—single math classes become entire lifetimes as you watch the clock’s hands tick towards the hour that you can finally see your crush again—but I think it can also be an excellent tool in situations like yours, for figuring out your feelings for someone and theirs for you.

Ask yourself what the rush is with this guy. Are your thoughts of him taking over your life and brain to the extent that you NEED to find out IMMEDIATELY how he feels about you or you will ABSOLUTELY lose your mind? Or can you stand to do the Facebook-chat thing for a little longer? What you’re living through currently is the crush buildup; for all you know you’re already on a slow-moving trajectory to Smooch City.

So I guess my advice is to be brave like a bear (saying how you feel), but also sly like a fox (deciding when to say it). It seems like this boy isn’t going anywhere for the moment, which means that you have plenty of time at your disposal to study this possible romance as it unfurls itself and get to know him well enough that you might not even HAVE to introduce a conversation about his feelings for you, because they’ll become evident on their own. The universe gives us what we pine for more regularly than we think!

Or maybe you’ve realized while reading this that you absolutely cannot wait a SECOND longer to find out what’s going on, and are on your way to his house on your kid brother’s bike RIGHT THIS MINUTE to declare your love for all the neighbors to hear—that’s cool, too! Always follow your crazy li’l hormone-sodden heart. I know that no matter what you choose to do, you’re gonna kill it (even if you’ve decided to chill it). —Esme

Any time I go to a club, something in me changes. I turn into this very fierce person who lets guys grind on her and twerks like no one is watching. Unfortunately, people are watching, and they look at me like I’m a “slut” or something. It really bothers me and makes me feel really guilty about my behavior. I start thinking that I really AM a slut, when all I was doing was dancing. How can I stop worrying about other people’s opinions of me and just enjoy myself? —Nadja, 18

I know exactly what you mean when you say club change the way you feel/act. There’s nothing more invigorating than being in the middle of a dance floor, disco lights and strobes flashing in my face, bass pulsing through my bod, as I shimmy and shake. It’s the most bonkers feeling to get lost in the music. It’s pure transcendence. For me, that transcendence is sensual: Even if I’m not grinding on a dude (which I love to do, for the record), there’s something about just physically embodying your self-esteem and feeling free via booty-popping, hip-shaking, slow-wining, and twerking as much as you damn please.

The people who are giving you looks are low-key slut-shaming you (although I’ve got a hunch that what this really means is that these downers are just jealous that they’ve decided not to behave as freely as you are). Women are still told constantly by society, media, and the overall patriarchal culture that we live in that we are not allowed to express our sexualities on our own terms, whether that’s something as serious as being frank about what we want from a sexual partner or just doing “the forbidden dance” in the club. I want you to understand that the mores that ask women to be “ladylike” and docile are bullshit—if you feel sexual when you’re dancing, THAT’S OK! It’s perfectly healthy behavior. And if you don’t? THAT’S OK TOO! Dancing is the most fun thing ever, and sometimes you just want to rhythmically connect with another person’s hips and buttocks.

I think you are phenomenal for feeling so great on the dance floor. Being in touch with yourself like that, both physically and mentally, is EMPOWERING, and totally as feminist (or not!) as you want it to be. If you need a little boost of confidence next time you’re planning to hit the club, do what I do while I’m getting ready: Take inspiration from videos of talented, strong, and athletic dancehall queens, like this one!

Hope this helps! —Julianne

I have this friend, and last year we were super close. But ever since she made captain of the winter guard team, she has been acting distant, and she has these new friends that she chooses over me all the time. Whenever I try to make plans with her, she makes up excuses why she can’t hang out with me. She also talks a lot of crap about one of our sweetest mutual friends, and I can’t help thinking that if she’s talking this way about her, she’s probably talking behind my back too. Here’s the confusing part: It was my birthday a few days ago, and she wrote this long paragraph on my Facebook wall about how amazing I am. I still love her and miss her a lot. What should I do? Should I try to stay her friend or should I find new ones? —Rachel, 16, Lansing, MI

I was recently on the other end of the situation you’re describing. I started hanging out with a new group of friends, and one day I abruptly realized that I didn’t want to hang out with my old friends. The old group hadn’t done anything wrong—I just felt like we had grown apart, and I just had more in common with my newer friends. But I had trouble telling my older friends I didn’t want to hang out as much anymore. So I made excuses and avoided them. In retrospect, I could have been more honest with them, but certain relationships tend to peter out this way in high school and college, and it’s not really anybody’s “fault.”

Sometimes, when a friendship changes or breaks up, it isn’t 100 percent mutual or understandable, and that can be confusing and hurtful. But you have to let friends move on, even if it hurts—a friendship kept out of obligation, or guilt, isn’t really a friendship at all, and you’ll find plenty of other people to hang with who are cool in their own different ways.

Try telling your friend how you’re feeling about the recent distance between you, and let her know that you’d like to see her more. Maybe, because she’s a lot busier all of a sudden, she doesn’t realize how distant she IS being! I’ve certainly done that myself. The fact that she left such an affectionate Facebook message makes me think she still wants to be friends with you—though maybe not the Best Friends that you were once before. And that’s OK! It’s just different.

Finally: Make new friends REGARDLESS of what happens with your current pal. It sounds like you might benefit from a little branchin’ out—there are tons of potential new buds out there for you, and focusing on other friendships will help abate some of the stress you’re feeling about this one and put less pressure on it, generally. Plus, it’ll be fun! —Hazel ♦

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