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Thursday, January 17 , 2019, 6:54 pm | Fog/Mist 59º


Louise Palanker: Boundaries with Boyfriend, Afraid of Dying, Sneaking Around at 14

Question from Sally

I am unsure whether this is a red flag. My boyfriend and I have been together for about four months. We were at my house studying when I got a cramp, so I asked for a massage.

He started massaging my back, and then he said jokingly “I’m going to make this massage more intimate” and started to massage my butt. I said “That’s not a real thing!” but he continued and started wrestling and tickling.

I was kind of laughing at first, but in retrospect I am upset, not so much that he did it, but that he kept doing it. The thing is, I don’t really think it was sexual. It kinda reminded me of when someone pinches or tickles a little kid, more than an unwanted advance.

Obviously he still needs to work on his boundaries, but I’m willing to chalk it up to being inexperienced and misinterpretation of the situation. Is this the right way to deal with this, or is it a red flag?


I think you both need to work on your boundaries. It’s important for you to understand just how much your boyfriend probably longs to touch you more intimately.

When you ask him to massage you that is sending him a sexually charged message. It’s like completely scrambling the playing field. I would be shocked if a teenaged boy could massage his girlfriend’s back without going a little bit gropey.

Readers, please tell him if you disagree but I advise that if you are not yet ready for a sexual relationship then you should not be requesting a message. Doing so just ratchets up desire.

Be honest and kind regarding what you are comfortable doing with him. Continue the conversation. He is going to try to touch you through hugging or wrestling or tickling or whatever. He’s a guy who is very attracted to you. So, be clear with him about the boundaries within which you feel safe and comfortable.

Yes, of course, no means no. But to be fair, “Can you massage me?” means maybe.

Setting healthy boundaries is important in EVERY relationship:

(Kati Morton video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Natalie

So, Weezy, basically, I’m afraid of dying. I’m 14. I have depression and I used to wish I could kill myself, but now I’m terrified of dying.

I have a younger brother, and I’m afraid I’ll die before him because I’m older. He is the best younger brother you could have, and so I kinda wish there was an afterlife.

Could you try to comfort me? What really happens when you die? I’m a little bit religious, but please don’t give me the same ‘you’ll go to heaven and be with God’ I get when I ask my parents.

What physically happens when you die? Is it painful or peaceful? I hate thinking about it so much! :'(


The good news is that being afraid of dying is teaching you how much you value life. The difficult truth is that none of us knows what happens when we die. If we had this knowledge, there would be only one religion and it would be reported on the news as scientific fact.

We don’t know and yet we all hunger to know and so there are many, many religions and there are atheists and there are those who believe in life after death and those who don’t. Many people believe in reincarnation. We are all mostly guessing, based on some anecdotal evidence, some hope and a lot of faith.

Many adolescents start to really freak out over these issues because they are suddenly aware that death is real and that we don’t live forever. The more you adjust to the starkness of the unknown, the less it will freak you out. You’ll come to a place of peace where you will pull comfort from the parts of life that matter most to you.

I believe that we are not meant to know the answers because if we did, we would stop trying so hard. And we’re here on earth to really try to learn from each other and to share knowledge, wisdom, beauty, art, music, laughter and — especially — love.

When we die, we may be met with a truth that feels abundantly evident and peaceful. That truth is not rooted in space or time or any of the earthly constructs that guide us. It just is. We will come to it and say, “OH! It’s all so simple.”

But we can’t know it now in our earthy form. We can’t and we don’t, and so stop trying so hard to make sense of what we are not supposed to know. Rather, make peace with what we do know. Take action. Be purposeful. How will you share your life? How will you find meaning in what you do with your life? What sort of person will you be?

You made it here. That means you are meant to be here and that your life is IMPORTANT. You will be alive for a long, long, long time. If you die at the age of 107, will the woman you become have to look back and say, “Why the heck was I so distracted and stressed out at 14???? I could have enjoyed some Netflix and ice cream with my beautiful brother?”

You are about to live a LIFETIME with your brother. He is and will be your bestie forever. Don’t waste another moment worrying about who will die first. IT DOES NOT MATTER. Love is what matters. Go show him some of that love and, for gosh sake, show yourself some of that good stuff, too.

I highly recommend this book, The Forgetting Time, by Sharon Guskin. It will fill you with wonder and comfort.

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Erica

Hey, Weezy!! So I’m just this ordinary 14-year-old girl with REALLY strict parents. Lately I’ve been feeling this thrill in doing things that are wrong, sneaky and dangerous.

I used to hang out with girls my age and, like, I wasn’t very exposed to guys, etc. so I was like really innocent. However, I’ve recently made friends a few years older than me — and with guys, too — and I’ve started sneaking into parties, drinking, wearing inappropriate clothes, speaking bad language (I’m trying to control this), and even walking to places with my friends. (I’m not allowed to walk to friends’ houses, etc.) I’m loving the thrill and adventure, yet I’m regretting it and I know I’m lying to my parents. Please tell me what’ wrong with me.


There is nothing wrong with you. This is normal teenaged behavior. You are trying to explore and be social and figure out who you are supposed to be in the world.

I do not have a problem with your search for adventure and freedom. I am, however, concerned for your safety. To be blunt. You are on your way to, at the very least, becoming a teenaged mother. At the worst, you could be in a horrible accident or the victim of a crime.

The world is not always safe. People are not always trustworthy. A young, inebriated girl is VERY vulnerable. Older kids can encourage you to do things that are dangerous. This is so scary. BE CAREFUL.

You have this rebellious spirit. OK, wonderful. What can you do with that part of your  personality that would help the world? Drinking and partying are really of no service to anyone. They accomplish nothing. They provide a few moments of perceived freedom and then there is a big mess to clean up.

What if you take your adventurous nature and channel it into making a real and important difference? What are the issues and causes that matter to you? Where can you channel all of this beautiful energy?

I know that right now you just want to run from all of the restrictions placed on you. But don’t run away from one thing without running toward something worthy. Know that you can be yourself AND make a positive change in the world. Doing both is what will bring you true freedom.

Here is AwesomenessTV with more about earning your parents’ trust:

(AwesomenessTV video)

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Got a question for Weezy? Email her at [email protected] and it may be answered in a subsequent column.

Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (click here to view her documentary, Family Band: The Cowsills Story), a teacher and a mentor. She has a teen social network/IOS app and weekly video podcast called Journals, built around a philosophy of cyber kindness. She also teaches a free stand-up comedy class for teens at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara​. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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