How to Know if You`re Really in Love/confused. what is this feeling?

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Question
Don't know if I put this in the right section but hopefully you can help me thanks.
Hello, first of thanks for taking the time to read and answering my question.

Well, I'm a 21 year old male. I'm a quiet guy but once I once you get to know me I become a very good friend. Well at least that's what some people say about me. When I was little till the age of 18 I was a really fat boy. I really had no friends due to the lack of my personality. I act and paid more attention then actually talking. Well enough about my past as a child. My real problem started when I was 18, that is when I had lost a lot of weight and I felt extremely good. Girls actually started paying attention and started talking to me. I didn't  talk much, but I was there. A lot of girls got away from me because they say I was too boring and not fun. Time was going and my moms friend asked me to babysit her 7. I was 18. Well I agreed, I like to play a lot, well I still do. Lol. It was just a regular babysitting and she started talking to so I started to talk . I soon as I realize we were talking for 3 hours straight without noticing. Well that day passed and my mom started to hang out more with that friend. So I started to see this little girl a lot more. She started getting really attached to me. That is the first time in life I actually felt my self with someone. I could say anything and act the way I was with out getting judge. People starting noticing she was really attached to me. So a lot of people asked if she was my daughter. Lol. Well days passed till now and she is like my best friend. She is pretty much the only one I can trust. I felt good been with her, I felt like actually some cared about me other than my parents. I noticed that I actually started hanging out with her too much and people started to call me weird. Her mom was ok. She knew, I will never do anything to her. Along time ago I typed the same story to another site. The person told me I could become a pedophile and be careful if we were alone together because anything could happen since I was a guy. Well to tell you the truth this has never went through my mind I prefer killing myself after any thoughts of this kind went through my mind. I have even been with her overnight and she has slept in my bed and I know myself that something like  that will never go through me . I'm not like that.  It will never happen. I just recently started feeling something that I have never felt before everytime I'm with her. I tried hanging out with girls my age but I just doesn't fell the same, I have to act someone that I'm not just so they can like me. 4 months ago I tried to get away from her but she still came to my house because her mom said she missed me. One of my cousins  that said it was a like a parent love. That i just need children. That I felt the need to take care of her. The problem is that I just can't stop thinking of this girl. I'm 21 and she is 10. Her mom even jokingly said if I wanted to adopted  her. I said yes. Lol. I just don't know what I'm feeling. I need your help. What is this thing im feeling that I just can't stop, I want to be next to her and just talk. As I'm writing this she is right next to me sleeping in my lap. Like I said I just feel happy cause I'm not getting judge and laugh at like my whole life was. I just don't know this feeling. Its a sensation that I want to protect her and I really "love" her, ( in a good way) . Why can't I stop this? Is this wrong because she like to hang out with me instead of girls her age. And the other way round but with Me? Please don't say I need a psychiatrist. Lol I don't money. Please help. Thanks you for your time

Answer
Dear Jaso (Jason?),

As long as you are honestly pursuing a friendship/guardian role, I see no problem with your friendship to this girl, and as long you are not romantically attracted to her--I see no problem with it (the relationship itself).

However, you need relationships with peers; people your age and mental maturity level to grow as a human being.

This girl will treat you differently, when she becomes sexually mature, and the protection you are getting by isolating yourself in a relationship with a child, will be gone. Challenge youself, make friends, and don't be afraid of judgement or even cruelty from people your age or older. Those behaviors are more a reflection of themselves than of you. You are better for your little friend if you are a whole, mature adult.

She should not be made to depend so much on you emotionally. She needs space to breathe, and depth of emotional connection with different age-groups and different people, not to mention, interaction with people in her family balanced by relationships with friends who are not guardians--for her growth as a person socially, the same way you do.

I recommend you see a therapist, regularly. Another human being who is in the flesh; able to interact with as an observer, coach, and guide, to establish healing and growth in you.

Let me know how you feel, and what you think.  

How to Know if You`re Really in Love

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Mando (Carl Atteniese Jr.)

Expertise

I've read, thought, written, and taught about love for over eleven years. I've had thoughtful love-oriented relationships only--for about twenty-eight years. I struggle endlessly to be a supremely thoughtful, compassionate, fair, and empirical thinker. This is crucial. I believe in the feeling and process of love. This is also crucial. As an artist, a poet, and an essayist--as a teacher of ESL in other cultures--I have had ample opportunity for the analysis of love... personally and inter-culturally, and this has made my introspection and analysis of relationships--with original ideas and those of my favorite psychotherapists--very fruitful. I will tell you three things, which will help you now--before you even write to me: To have true love in yourself and with another, you must: 1. Be Free. 2. Be Adult. 3. Be Honest. 4. Be Disciplined. 5. Find numbers 3~5 easy, because you are overcome with love. 6. Be willing to do virtually anything reasonable (and many things unreasonable from the point of view of others).7. Never settle (in other words, be with someone you do not love), thinking that you will grow into love. 8. Never take a match made by another; your heart and mind must choose your love--period. 9. Never allow yourself to be put into temptation--ever (this is also natural--if you are in love). 10. Be able to listen like you never listened before--to yourself and to your beloved. 11. Love humanity--both the conditions & qualities, and all people.

Experience

I've been fortunate to have helped many people around the world and I love to do it. I will be happy to help you, too--no matter whom you are. If I am busy or unable to help you right away, consider these books to help you help yourself--until I can respond: "Being Happy", by Andrew Mathews; any books by Dr. Wayne Dyer; "The Art of Loving", by Dr. Erich Fromm; "Love", by Leo Buscaglia, "True Love", and "Anger", both by Thich Nhat Hanh. Also Read "The Beloved" and "The Prophet", both by Khalil Gibran. Read "The Road Less Traveled" and "People of The Lie", both by Dr. M. Scott Peck.... Learn more about me at http://carlatteniese.org

Organizations
Amnesty International Partner of Conscience (http://amnesty.org), Union of Concerned Scientists (http://ucsusa.org) and Avaaz.org (htp://avaaz.org)

Publications
Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com/national/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20110601000943), New York Newsday, The Planetary Review, The Long Island Catholic, Wake Up And Laugh (http://wakeupandlaugh.wordpress.com), The Ocean And The Stars (http://bitnacarlo.blogspot.com/), Cradle of The Universe (http://cradleoftheuniverse.wordpress.com/)

Education/Credentials
Certificates in recognizing violence in the home and child abuse, in preventing violence in school. Raised with an emphasis on loving all people and to be politically active. Studied Zen at Hwa Gye Sa Temple, Han Maum Zen & Culture Center, and The Buddhist English Library of Seoul, in South Korea. Taught seventeen years in the US and South Korea. Teacher Training in the U.S. at Berlitz and the Center for English Studies, NYC, and at Inlingua, Princeton. Studied Drawing, Photography, and Painting at the School of Visual Arts, NYC, and basic Psychology at Nassau Community College, Long Island. Fifteen years of experience teaching English as a Second language--many of those years abroad--has helped as well, as people from other cultures help us see ourselves and other human beings in a different light.

Awards and Honors
My reward is knowing I have helped people.

Past/Present Clients
I have taught and counseled people of all ages, experience-levels, professions and religions, and consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity and thankful to those who have shared with me. Every such interaction is a learning experience, and an opportunity for growth and improvement.

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