Dear Miss Emily:

I'm 17 years old. For a while, now, I've had the biggest crush on a boy who is about 1 1/2 years younger than me, and I've approached him a lot and made it clear I liked him. He's never came out and said he loved me back, but I'm sure he doesn't dislike me. He's really shy, but that's one of the things I love about him. I've noticed, though, that he gets really embarrassed when I meet up with him during school. Since sophomores in my high school have a huge free period, and I usually head over to the freshman homerooms to hang out. I'm a physical  person, so I can't help but hug him when I see him. He always blushes up, but doesn't get angry or push me away. His friends jokingly say he's perverted and stuff and I defend him, but I think he takes the classmates' comments too seriously. I really like him, but  don't want to undermine his confidence or anything. His sister (who I just thought was being too protective) says that I should give him some space. I stopped visiting him for a week, and I could barely take not seeing him. Just when I was about to go back to visiting his homeroom, he called my cell and asked if I wasn't feeling well, cause I wasn't seeing him at school for a while. Now I've been convinced he likes my company, but his sister still says I'm messing up his self-esteem and popularity. I don't know about self-esteem, but I'm one of the more popular and pretty girls at school (not to sound conceited)and I doubt it's making him less popular. I just want a professional opinion; is this relationship a healthy one? And if not, how can I make it better.

----------------------------Miss Emily's advice------------------------

He might be uncomfortable with the age difference.  If he's had little experience, as much as he likes your attention, he doesn't know what to do with it and it's putting him on the spot. The sister's comment is apt in that your overt show of affection is too much for him to handle in front of others. I would guess if he were savvy, he would show his friends his interest in you rather than be embarrassed by your attention. I do think he is interested, but I would ask him to get together outside of school. That way, he can get to know you better and he can ease into something.  If he can't, at least, do that, it's up to you how long you want to wait for him to come out of his shell.  He simply may not be ready and, if that's the case, it's not rejection but rather his inability to bite the bullet (so to speak) that holds him back.