Back to high school

I visited the Writer's Room at the Jeremiah E. Burke High School earlier this month to chat about Love Letters on behalf of 826 Boston. The students and I talked about the history of advice columns, how we advise friends vs. strangers, and what kind of advice we take when it's offered.

We discussed a few of the most recent problems on the column, and then the students answered a letter from a writer who wasn't much older than them. (The original column and our advice is here.)

They had some strong opinions. Two of them tell the reader to "woman up."

Enjoy the holiday, and keep it clean in the comments section. We'll do this with some more high schools soon.

Here are their answers:

Dear Confused Friend,
Genuinely, most guys don't know how to share their feelings. Guys flirt accidentally and don't know that they are flirting, and he may have thought that he was just being a friend. You also said something about him being drunk – that's called "liquid courage," sis! People get drunk and say and do things that they wouldn't if they were sober. Also, you, as a woman, can have mixed emotions (and so do I). You overthink and confuse yourself. I've been there, done that, and in the end I always get my hopes up for nothing and look stupid in the end. I'm not saying you look stupid, but I understand if you feel embarrassed because you may have actually fallen for this guy and he doesn't feel the same.
– Iyana Lovings, 18

Dear Confused Girl,
I know how you feel because I have been there many times. So I am going to tell you that you need to "woman up" and ask him how he really feels about you so that you won't be wasting your time. A lot of times we boys like to play in a lot of different ways that might give you the wrong impression that we like you. And so I would say that you should ask him to tell you the truth, but be open to any answer that you might get because it might be one that you don't like.
– Jeffrey Esosa, 17

Dear Confused Girl,
Maybe he does like you, but boys these days just tend to do stuff for girls, and it doesn't mean anything. When you say he "seemed genuine while drunk," maybe he actually knew what he was doing, unlike other people who don't. But in order to avoid being led on in the future, the best thing I can say to you is to make sure that person actually likes you. Ask him how he feels about you before you do anything. And if he does ... lucky you.
– Beatrice Midgette, 15

Dear Confused Girl,
I totally understand where you're coming from. I was in a similar situation; I put my heart first (before my mind) and my heart got broken. I thought that the guy was feeling me the same way I was feeling him, but that was not the case. The best advice I can give you is to not put your heart in the situation first, and ask the guy what he wants out of it. Does he want a relationship or does he want a friendship? Get a clear mind about where things are going so you know how to feel about the relationship. But don't give up on love; wait for it to come to you.
– Victoria Johnson

Dear Confused Girl,
To be honest, you have to find out for yourself. You can't always go off of what some else says. If it's really bugging you, you might have to put yourself out there. It might feel uncomfortable, but that's the only way you're going to find out. You also have to prepare yourself for the fact that he just might not like you and you guys just might be friends. It's time to "woman up" and get your man.
Nazeem Nelson, 18

Dear Confused Girl,
I know you like and care about your friend. Actually, I think he cares for you too. Maybe he likes you but he just doesn't want to tell you because there is something or someone that is holding his back. You are not wrong for thinking or assuming that he likes you because of the way he behaves when you are together. To be honest, sometimes people do not realize that the right person is right next to them. That might be him. Just open up with your feelings and ask him what he wants from you. You might not hear what you want, but at least you will know the truth, and you will not be there wondering whether he likes you or not.
– Junior Ribeiro, 17

Dear Confused Girl,
I think he was genuine while drunk and not just "beer-goggled-flirty." I don't think that you were wrong by judging his previous actions, but nobody is perfect and you don't know what was on his mind at that time. All I can tell you is just follow your heart, and that everything will work out if you guys are meant to be together. I think that you should tell him the truth – that you have a crush on him – and then see what his reaction is.
– Jailson Barros, 17

Dear Confused Girl,
You basically misled yourself by thinking that the relationship was something more than him just being your friend. In my opinion, coming from a guy, most guys flirt for fun. So the inside jokes, the bothering, and him being kind is just what it is. He sounds like a pretty cool guy to feel sorry for leading you on. Most guys wouldn't.
Akeem, 18

Dear Confused Girl,
I totally understand where you're coming from but, to be honest, most boys really don't know what they want. One minute they like you and another time they don't like you. He's done so much for you and he speaks about you all the time. Who wouldn't think that he likes you? About that night when you said he was "drunk" and then had second thoughts about his actions, I think that if he was really drunk he wouldn't have remembered everything that had happened. He probably wanted to do all those things before but was scared, and now he's using the drunkenness as an excuse. If you want to avoid being led on, just open your eyes, watch a boy's actions carefully, and keep him in the friend zone. I think there is hope for both of you, but don't rush into anything.
– Victoria Thompson, 17

Dear Confused Girl,
Girl, that boy likes you, but boys these days find every excuse in the book to be "the man" to his friends. I don't think you were wrong to judge his previous actions, I just think you looked a little too deep into the situation at certain times. The best way to avoid being led on is to be straight forward with how you feel, and ask if they feel the same way. That's where you went wrong to begin with. You should've just said, "I like you and I want to know how you feel about me. I can either leave our relationship as a friendship or I can pursue something more with you." I believe there's hope because it's clear he likes you, regardless of what he says to his boys. Hang in there, he'll come around.
– Tallaria Smith, 17

Dear Confused Girl.
To be honest, I think he was trying to get more then just eye contact and smiles. Because it doesn't make sense. How could he do all these things with you, but then the night of the party he cut you off? But also, you should have just asked him how he really felt from the start.
– Stephone Ansley, 17

Dear sweet girl,
I have to confess that it made me confused too, because you got two answers at the same time. The boy seems like he likes you, but at the same times he does not. You're right, it's very confusing. These days, you never know what's going on with boys because they are always cheating, and us girls never want to get our hearts broken. So if you truly love him, you should talk to him and say what you feel, because based on what you wrote there is definitely something about you that he likes. Go talk to him and be sure about everything that makes you confused. Good luck.
– Kenira Antunes, 18

Dear Confused Girl,
I know you like him and he cares about you. But I feel like you shouldn't waste your time with someone that just wants to be friends when you're looking for something else. Maybe he decided to lie to his friend because he didn't want him to know his true feelings. You are not wrong, you just want the truth because you can't sit there waiting for someone who doesn't want what you're looking for. Actually, to be honest, sometimes people don't realize that the right person is right there. You should ask him how he feels. You might not hear what you want, but at least you will know the truth and you won't be wondering whether he likes you or not.
– Stephany Mendes, 18