Dear Dr. Wallace:

I am 18 and have been friends with a guy for three years. We are both high school graduates, and he has gone on to college. When he calls me from college, he talks as if we have a romantic relationship. However, when we are together, the romance is gone, and he treats me just as a friend. I am very confused about the mixed signals he’s sending my way.

The truth is, I really like this guy! He’s a great friend, we have a lot in common, and we get along great when we are alone together. We started to spend time together as youngsters (I was 15; he was 16), and so things stayed platonic for a long time, starting with those early days. What do you suggest I do at this point?

— Unsure of This Relationship, via email

Dear Unsure: Three years is a very long time to be involved with the guy and not know what his feelings toward you are. It’s time to straighten things out once and for all. The next time you are alone together, tell him you don’t feel comfortable in your relationship with him as things are, since you two speak romantically to each other but there’s no follow-up in person. Then discuss the future relationship you plan to share with him, if the two of you decide you are indeed an exclusive couple.

If it is agreed that it will only be a friendship, then accept that and start dating other guys. If, however, you both decide to share a steady relationship together, then it might be necessary for you to be a bit more assertive in the area of romance. Quite a few guys do well romantically over the phone but need a little encouragement when they have to face reality in person. It could very well be that your longtime male friend falls squarely into this category.

Either way, gently but directly confronting this issue head-on will get you out of the limbo you presently find yourself in: That’s going to be a good thing for you either way from here. Good luck!

Dear Dr. Wallace: I’m 15 and have never been on a date with a girl. The reason is that the girls I’d like to go out with always have an excuse to say no when I ask them out, and I’m not interested in the girls who want me to go out with them.

Yesterday, a girl who likes me invited me to a birthday party her older sister is having at their house. I’m really not interested in this girl, so I’m sure I wouldn’t have a good time.

My mother thinks that I should go because it would be rude to turn her down. What do you say?

— No Luck Yet,

Phoenix

Dear No Luck Yet: A date can be fun for someone your age and should be enjoyable, with no pressure attached in any way. Time spent together allows a couple to hold longer conversations than usual, while enjoying a common event. It also permits teens your age to become better acquainted with each other.

Don’t prejudge this particular young lady. Accept the invitation to the party and plan on having a great time. Who knows? Once you spend time with her, you might want to see her again. Even if you don’t wish to attend another date together, you should be polite, friendly and earnest. Remember that as a young man of 15, you have a long “dating life” ahead of you. Always be kind to all the girls you meet, and remember that they all have friends, many of which will be other girls! You definitely want to develop a reputation of being friendly, interested in girls and treating them well, with respect and sincerity.

Write to Dr. Wallace at rwallace@galesburg.net.