DEAR KELLY: I'm a sophomore and my girl group of friends is close with another group of guy friends who are all wrestlers. We hang out almost every weekend and there has never been any drama.
The flirt of the group has kind of taken turns flirting with all of us girls, but we just know it's Justin. He likes to flirt and tease but when it comes time to get serious he runs because "he focuses only on wrestling."
Recently my cousin was in town and I brought her out with us. She's a freshman and lives close but goes to another school. Guess who Justin decided to flirt with all night and actually ends up liking? You guessed it, my cousin! She likes him back, too, and is always texting me now to tell him "hi" at school when I see him.
The problem is that every time I see him at school, he's still flirting with girls, and I seriously doubt it will stop. I warned my cousin that he was a flirt, but she didn't care and now it seems like they are almost a couple the way they text and talk every night. I tell her I see him talking to other girls, but she says he said he has a lot of friends and that's all the other girls are.
My cousin can't stand to have her heart broken and I can see it happening.
Her dad (my uncle) moved out last year and is already living with his new girlfriend. My cousin has called me and cried so many times about her dad, and now I know Justin is going to break her heart and I don't want to be the call when he does.
What should I do? I warned her but she didn't listen and now she's all in on a guy who I don't know if he feels the same. When I asked him if he liked her, he said he really did. But we all know come wrestling season he'll drop her and she'll be devastated.
I feel caught between my cousin and a guy who is a friend but also a major flirt and a total heartbreaker. Any advice?
– The Middle
DEAR MIDDLE: You can't stop your cousin from getting her heart broken. It's a natural part of growing up and it will happen whether it is with Justin or another guy. You have warned her and she has made the choice to proceed ahead.
There is nothing more you can do. If she ignores the warning signs, it will be up to her to face the dangers that lie in front of her.
One small bit of advice: Talk to Justin. Let him know, friend-to-friend, that your cousin is in a very vulnerable place because of all that has happened in her home life. Tell him that she is looking for something to occupy her mind instead of focusing on all that loss she has experienced in the last year.
Ask him to be cautious and careful with her heart as it is fragile and will break easily. Perhaps if he is aware of what she has been through, he will think a little more about how he treats her. He may be a flirt, but that doesn't mean he can't show compassion and understanding for someone else's feelings.
Sometimes being a good cousin or friend means watching someone you care about making bad decisions, but still loving them and being there when they are hurt. Your cousin needs to make her own decision and accept the consequences that follow. You can't shelter her from heartache – she is old enough to make her own decisions, even if they result in sadness.
Don't turn your back on your cousin if Justin breaks her heart. Instead, arm yourself with a pint of her favorite Ben and Jerry's, a sweet card that says "I'm here for you" and be ready to offer a hug and shoulder if she is heartbroken. The heart is a strong muscle and your cousin will be fine.