ASK DENISE: Teen unsure if she's in 'friend zone'

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Denise Harrison, News-Journal advice columnist

Editor’s note: Writer’s answers do not reflect those of the Mitchell News-Journal and are not meant to replace medical or mental health care.


DEAR DENISE: I am 17 and a junior in high school. There is a boy that lives three doors down from me and we hang out every day. When we were able to go to school he was in my class, too. We go to his house or mine, study together, play music, play games and watch movies. We are together almost every moment we are awake. I am so into this guy. But, he never has said he liked me, never even held my hand. He never sits right next to me or introduces me as his girlfriend. One day I just asked him what we had. He didn’t seem to want to answer and just said he was fine just the way it was. So, maybe he just likes me as a friend? But then he gets mad if I talk to or message other boys. My mom says he could just be shy. But how long am I supposed to wait? At my age, I would like to go out with other boys, but I don’t know where I stand with this guy.

DEAR READER: Your situation sounds super frustrating. It really is challenging when you don’t know where you stand with someone. You mentioned you asked him one day how he viewed your relationship, and that he wasn’t very forthcoming. There is a very good possibility he doesn’t really have an answer. 

It is obvious he is very fond of you, but in what capacity? Does he look at you as his “bestie”?  That’s nice, but you have indicated you want more. Many people do not respond well to gentle inquiries or hints – they need full-throttle, open and direct communications. I suggest you sit him down, calmly tell him how you feel and let him know you need answers. It is better for you to find out now he is strictly in the “friend zone” than to spend precious time agonizing over uncertainty. You deserve to know for sure how he feels so you can decide how you want to proceed. Best wishes.


DEAR DENISE: I feel so frustrated sometimes. I think I am a good person. I worry about others’ well-being all the time, and I make sure I check on my friends and family every day, even if it just to say hello. But what hurts my feelings is sometimes I feel it is always me reaching out. No one ever reaches out to me. A couple of weeks ago I was sick with a headache, my friends and family knew it, but I heard nothing from anyone. Am I nuts for being so good to others when no one returns the favor?

DEAR READER: No, you are not nuts. You are simply a good and caring person. Unfortunately, not everyone is on the same wavelength and some people are too consumed with their own lives to initiate a caring gesture to others.

I understand your frustration and hurt, there are quite a few of us in the same boat. When we show caring toward another, it is natural to assume it is reciprocal, but it often is not. Ask yourself this: “Why am I doing this for others?” Is it because you expect something in return or is it because you genuinely care and want to show the kindness you feel? I am willing to bet it is the latter. 

Continue doing what you do and be the person you are without any expectations. Who knows, maybe someone will surprise you one day.


DEAR READERS: I have heard several verbal compliments about this past week’s column, which addressed the changes the current virus situation has had on some people’s personalities. I would love to hear more feedback about this. Send me your experiences, positive and negative, about people and their behaviors during the COVID-19 crisis. I look forward to hearing from you.


Denise Harrison is a Licensed Counselor in Spruce Pine and the resident advice columnist for the Mitchell News-Journal. Send questions to or call and leave a message at 828-467-0037. Submissions are anonymous.