DEAR KELLY: This might be crazy, but I really like my next-door neighbor and don't know what to do about it. We grew up together and have always just been friends. We used to play together all the time when we were little, but then he went with his friends in middle school and I hung out with my friends.
When we started high school, we became better friends because we would see each other at games and parties and other things. About a month ago he broke up with his girlfriend that he had for a long time. I saw his (Facebook) status and messaged him that if he wanted to talk we could go on a walk or something. He texted me an hour later and we met outside and went on a long walk to the park by our old elementary school.
Later that night he told me that he had always had a fat crush on me in middle school, but he knew it would be way too awkward if we got together because we live next door to each other and our families are good friends. He said his grandma always told him that I was so cute and a good girl, and that he knew she was right.
Nothing happened that night but we've gotten a lot closer since then. We now hang out all the time and feelings are starting to happen. I think he feels the same, but I don't know if he still thinks it would be too awkward if anything happened between us.
I think people are starting to wonder. Even my mom asked if something was happening between us. When I said no, she said good because she didn't want to deal with the drama if we did go out and broke up. I asked her if she liked him, and she said yes because he's a good kid and gets good grades. I asked if we weren't neighbors if she would be OK if he was my (boyfriend), and she said yes to that too.
So now I'm confused and angry because I really like him and I know my parents like him too, but just because we live next door something can't happen between us? It doesn't seem right.
I have known him almost my whole life and I know he would never hurt me, Kelly, so shouldn't we be allowed to try this out because we really do like each other. Do we take the chance and hope this will work or should we just stay friends and not explore what seems like something that could be really great?
DEAR MANDY: Almost anything in life that involves great joy also involves great risk.
You have to be willing to take chances and not let fear hold you back or you might miss wonderful moments that can't be replaced.
The facts are simple: He lives next door and your parents are friends. The fear is that if something goes wrong, the relationship between the families could be strained and awkward. I agree this could happen. But this should not be the key factor in causing you not to explore your feelings for each other. If you stop this relationship from ever getting a chance, my guess is you both might feel regret and wonder for a long time about what could have been. Wouldn't you rather know than always wonder?
That's where the risk comes in. Things can sour. No lying about that. Feelings can get hurt and people can feel betrayed or emotionally bruised. This is true in any relationship, but yours is complicated because regardless of what happens you will still have to see each other for a long time.
You have to lay down boundaries, such as not bringing your parents into the relationship and telling them all the bad things about the other person if you break up. You have to agree to handle this relationship with more maturity because the consequences of a breakup or cheating on each other have stronger meaning to your family ties.
Go into the relationship not expecting to marry each other but rather to date and continue having fun. Keep things light and drama-free.
Perhaps you both talk with your parents before you decide to make things official. Acknowledge their concerns and let them know you have talked about things and how to handle sticky situations or sour endings.
Open communication between all parties is the key here. Setting good boundaries and realistic expectations will help you figure out if this is a great friendship or if it can be more that that.