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Today's letter is about first like.
Q: Dear Meredith,
First off, your column is awesome! You and your readers give great advice, which is why I'm writing in. Here's the story:
I'm 19 years old and have never had a boyfriend. I swear, I'm not hideous or have a weird laugh or something, in fact, I think and have been told that I'm pretty smart and decent looking. A few boys have expressed interest in the past, but they've never been people that I am interested in.
Well, that is, until 'Toby.' Toby is a pretty sweet guy. He's extremely nice and thoughtful, and wicked smart to boot. He recently told me that he likes me, but I'm not sure if I like him the same way. My friends said that since I'm not sure, then that's the answer -- since I don't feel super crazy about Toby, I don't like him. But my mom says that it took awhile for her to warm up to my dad, and now they've been married almost 25 years and still love each other a lot. So here's my question: how do you know if you like someone as more than a friend? Is it like in the movies at all? Or can you grow to like someone in a physical way? Is there a 'spark'? Any insight would be appreciated.
– Emotionless, Boston
A: First of all, don't feel weird about your pace. You’re young. Everybody’s different. Nineteen can mean many things. You haven’t met anyone who gets you all emotional just yet, but I swear, it will happen. Enjoy this time while it lasts.
On the subject of Toby, I will say this -- sometimes feelings don’t kick in until you give romance a test run. Sometimes it takes an actual human kiss to figure out if a friend can be more than a friend. Sometimes it takes three or four kisses and suddenly, you want a fifth. Your brain is used to categorizing nice people as buddies. Maybe you need to do some hand-holding with Toby just to see how it feels. It might make you want to run in the other direction … or maybe you’ll want a little more of what Toby has to offer.
You can be honest with him and tell him you're not sure how you feel. If Toby knows you (and it sounds like he does), your hesitation won’t surprise him. All he wants is a chance.
It’s not like the movies. Sometimes it’s all physical sparks with no real emotion. Sometimes it’s all emotion and the physical stuff comes later. Sometimes it’s just wrong from start to finish.
I'm rooting for Toby, to be honest. He sounds nice and your letter suggests that you want to like him. But don’t fret – if the hand-holding doesn’t feel right, see paragraph one. No rush.
Readers? Are the friends right or should the letter writer give Toby a chance? Is love like the movies? Can sparks come later? Share.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.