The Teen Doctor

Answers to your questions about adolescents

Confiding & Flirting: The Same Thing?

I don't know if I'm flirting

Dear Dr. G., 

I am a 15-year-old female high school student. My friend has recently accused me of flirting with her new boyfriend. Her new boyfriend has now become my friend and I don't think I flirt with him. I don't tease him, giggle around him or try to have sex with him. He has a lot of problems and I listen to him and share my own family stories. He's good to talk to. His mother is an alcoholic and I can relate to him because my own mom has been sober for 10 years. I don't want to lose my girlfriend but what is so bad about me and her boyfriend confiding in each other? He even told me that his girlfriend who is my friend doesn't understand him like I do. What should I do Dr. G.? Is my friend being ridiculous? Are confiding and flirting the same thing? Help me. I'm new to all of this hard stuff.

A Confused Teen 

 

Dear Teen,

WOW! I have to say that you ask a very important question that many individuals of all ages have been struggling with for years. I believe that yes, men and women can be friends, but your question addresses a very important nuance of relationships. Bravo to you for asking a very thought-provoking question. Let me start by saying that while there are variations of the definition for "flirting" it generally implies that an individual is playfully interacting with someone in an effort to either gain their attention or attract them. Generally, when we think of "confiding" there is not an overt and clear seductiveness involved. On the other hand, as we all know "confiding" often opens the doors to connectedness and in many cases to two people developing feelings toward each other. 

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There is a clear difference between flirting and confiding. The intentions are different. The outcome, however, may be similar. You see, confiding often leads to a level of emotional intimacy that may be the strongest form of closeness and connection. Furthermore, emotional intimacy may be even more connecting than sexual intimacy. This may be hard to believe but time and time again I have found this to be true for the hundreds of people that I have worked with in my practice over several years. Having said that, I do not believe that flirting and confiding are the same thing. Nonetheless, I understand your friend's concern. She is afraid that you and her boyfriend may develop feelings toward each other in the process of confiding.

Talk to your girlfriend. Explain to her that it is not your intention to try to get with her boyfriend but that instead you like to talk to him. She may continue to be uncomfortable with how much time you and he spend confiding. Think about how you would feel in a similar situation and how important her friendship is to you. Keep all of these factors in mind when deciding what to do. 

THANK YOU for asking this fabulously thought-provoking question. I will look forward to reading the responses of our readers. 

Good Luck,

Dr. G.

For more articles like this see my website:

http://drbarbaragreenberg.com/ 

Barbara Greenberg, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of adolescents and their well-intentioned but exhausted parents.

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