Dear Miss Emily:

My girlfriend and I have been dating for months now, some would say a healthy relationship. We are both in our teens, 17 years old. Our relationship started when her best friend told me that she had liked me for a long time. Afterward, I had realized that I had the feelings for her too, so then I asked her to become my girlfriend, and since then, we have had a fruitful relationship with no arguments, no doubts, and no regrets... but in the back of my head, there seemed to be something bothering me and eating away at my thoughts. For a long time, I would always feel it inside me whenever I think of her, reason unknown to me, but caused me to feel nauseous and extremely confused. After a few sessions of deep thinking, I think I have realized what has been bothering me this entire time. I have always tried to be the best boyfriend I could be. I've attended her concerts (she plays guitar) just to be there for her, always have been polite and mature, kept my grades up high, passionate and understanding of her problems, showered her with compliments about how pretty she is both appearance and personality wise, and organized dates and trips to places where she always wanted to go. But I've discovered that I always have to initiate everything in our relationship. It was me who always has to start the kiss, me who compliments her on her looks and personality, me who's put aside other things to be with her, me who cares for her well being. She never seems to actually do these things on her own without me starting it. She has kissed me on her own accord once, but only on the cheek. She has complimented me before, but mostly through text. I practically broke my leg once by falling off the bleachers at school, and the only thing she could say to me was "Aww, I'm sorry", and then walked away from me right after. I feel like sometimes she doesn't appreciate me as much as I would expect her to. I have asked her best friend about this, and she says that she constantly talks about me to her and her other friends. Her best friend says that she is still a bit afraid of opening up, and is afraid of my impression of her if she ever does. She says all of these heart-felt things to her friends about me, but she never says it to me directly. Her best friend says she does care and is in love, but for some reason, I feel like her assurance is not enough. I have tried to make her open up several times after that, telling her that she can tell me anything in the back of her head that she has been too scared to tell me, even to the point where I told her that I loved her to try to get her to open up to me. She didn't say it back. I think in the very bottom of my stomach, I would like for her to just show me that she cares about me. Not more words of how hot I look, not occasional kisses on the cheeks, but actually demonstrate that she appreciates me/loves me as much as I appreciate her. Now, I've tried to talk to her about these matters several times, though most of the times, I have never managed to get the full point across to her, and it usually ends up with us complimenting each other through text, leaving me unsatisfied. I feel like I can't actually tell her head on "I want you to appreciate me or open up more", because then it might feel like I'm too demanding of a boyfriend, and she might pull away, but at the same time, if she never opens up to me or shows actual appreciation, I might pull away myself. Advice please!

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

You've tried, in your way, to get her to be the girlfriend you want her to be -- but she either doesn't get your veiled attempts, or she's incapable, at this time in her life, of being that person. Or maybe that's who she will always be -- let's everyone else take the lead. You never really got your full point across, and she's no mind-reader -- but I suspect if you told her what you wanted, it would put a damper on the relationship. What you really want her to be is more like you! You and she are seventeen and I think it's hard, at this age, to be completely open -- be truly intimate with another person. There's a lot of self-consciousness that goes on, and she may have some insecurity/shyness that dictates her behavior. In my opinion, I think she cares a great deal for you. She seems quite happy to have found a guy who is willing to do all he does for her, despite her being unwilling, or unable to reciprocate in the ways you desire. She might have difficulty expressing herself, but I don't think she'd be with you if she didn't have feelings for you. Either accept you are the doer in this relationship, or look for someone who measures up to your expectations. But if I were you, I'd relax a little, don't try so hard, and enjoy the relationship for what it is and the things you enjoy together. I suspect college beckons, and you have plans for that, right? She may also realize if you and she are college bound, that the relationship may not hold over if one of you, or  both of you leave town. That's purely speculation on my part, but it's food for thought.