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Help me help my daughter with this conversation:

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
My daughter is 14, turns 15 in just over a month. We decided to let her date about a year ago, and so far it's been okay.

The boy she is dating now is LOVED by our family. He cherishes his time here, and enjoys the chaos. She's been dating him since around October (IIRC).

Anyway, my daughter, A, is uncomfortable with heavy emotions from a boyfriend. This one tells me (he talks to me a lot and we are very careful not to gossip...but he does need to talk) in confidence, that he has told her he loves her quite a few times and she always seems to "shut down."

My daughter herself has mentioned him saying this, and she said it gave her hives (in a joking way). She's really, honestly not comfortable with that level of emotional statement (the attachment may be there, but the statement of it, to her, seems permanent). It's perfectly okay for her family to love her to pieces (and we do), but not her boyfriends.

Sometimes she gets tongue-tied because she used to be a chatterbox and was teased about that, so she's leery of talking TOO much, especially on a subject that's painful or may be painful.

How can I help her learn how to gently express her feelings honestly?

She likes this boy. He says he loves her. The fact that they can't express themselves well yet, and tend to avoid the conversation, is causing this poor boy real heartache and making my daughter run from the whole thing.

I need some vocabulary for two incredibly gifted thinkers...who aren't so great at interpersonal communication at times. Thanks for any help.

love, p
post #2 of 10
You may not be into this, but the 5 Love Languages frame of reference may help these budding adults. There's a book but really, you can just read the website. The theory is that people show their love in many ways, but out of 5 major ways, people will show their love one way more than others.

For example, my DH shows love primarily through "Acts of Service" while I mostly show love through "Quality Time." This means DH likes to do nice things for me to show he cares, while I would rather just sit on the couch and talk and cuddle. So, without the understanding that he is showing he loves me when he does the dishes, I used to feel like he would, say, rather do dishes than hang out and talk to me. When really, he's not avoiding me, he's showing affection. Similarly, my parents are "Gift" people. Receiving gifts means a lot to them, so giving gifts is how they show their love to me and DS. This contradicts a lot of my values for raising our son without a lot of worthless plastic junk. So... you work with it.

My suggestion is that, it sounds like this boy is showing his affection in one "love language" and your DD is speaking a different language. Perhaps they can explore different ways of sharing affection, since this track is not working well for either of them. For example, perhaps instead of saying "I love you" the boy can hold her hand during the movie... craft a keepsake box... take her on a hike... you get the picture. The same would go for your daughter. If she knows her boy well, she can respond to his "love language" in appropriate ways that she is comfortable with, like saying "I like when you wear your hair like that" or "that was a sweet jump on your bike" (since he seems really verbal, you know...)
post #3 of 10
She's only 14 and frankly, if this sort of talk is making her uncomfortable, he needs to take a step back. There isn't anything wrong with her. If she's not ready to say she loves him then she shouldn't say it. Mom really needs to be on her side in this situation. If she feels like you are siding with him she'll run even faster and wall you out completely from the next relationship.

It's pretty frightening to be in a relationship that is racing faster than you are. I wasn't really ready for a boy to profess his love until 16 and I did run from those that tried to do it earlier. Plus, the boys that were pushing the "I love you" stuff were also faster to push sex and I wasn't ready for that either. I didn't meet the love of my life until I was 21 and it's likely, your DD won't find that perfect mate until she's mature and comfortable saying "I love you" too.
post #4 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post
She's only 14 and frankly, if this sort of talk is making her uncomfortable, he needs to take a step back. There isn't anything wrong with her. If she's not ready to say she loves him then she shouldn't say it. Mom really needs to be on her side in this situation. If she feels like you are siding with him she'll run even faster and wall you out completely from the next relationship.

It's pretty frightening to be in a relationship that is racing faster than you are. I wasn't really ready for a boy to profess his love until 16 and I did run from those that tried to do it earlier. Plus, the boys that were pushing the "I love you" stuff were also faster to push sex and I wasn't ready for that either. I didn't meet the love of my life until I was 21 and it's likely, your DD won't find that perfect mate until she's mature and comfortable saying "I love you" too.
I agree with this. It really sounds to me from the OP that she isn't actually in love with this boy and doesn't want to get "serious" and is afraid that him saying "I love you" makes the relationship more serious than she wants to get....which it does. It is very possible to like someone a lot, want to spend a lot of time with them, and still not be in love with that person and not want to be in a serious/committed/exclusive/long term/ etc relationship. I think it's entirely possible that she is "shutting down" because she doesn't want to hurt his feelings by letting him know that she doesn't feel as strongly towards him as he feels towards hers. And if that's the case, there is no way to say that that it won't hurt him-learning that the person you are in love with doesn't feel the same about you is very painful.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestions. MovnMa, that sounds just like something she'd love browsing through.

I *am* completely on her side, but my question was more about how to help them talk this through in a healthy way, for the moms who seem to think I'm pushing her to stay with him and ignore her feelings.

I'd like to see them salvage their very good friendship from this, or at least talk honestly so nobody has to go away all hurt and damaged.

Thank you. P
post #6 of 10
I don't think it's realistic to think there is an approach that will let anyone go home without being hurt. Salvaging a friendship isn't particularly realistic at this point either. If he's in love with her, they're going to need a lot of space and time before they can "just be friends."
post #7 of 10
When she says it gives her hives (I get exactly what she means here) does she elaborate that she doesn't feel that way about him? I to would shut down when a fun, friendly boyfriend would want MORE from me than I felt for him. If that's how she feels, her convo could be something along the lines of "when you say you love me it makes me uncomfortable because it's not a match to how I feel. I have fun with you and enjoy your company and your friendship, and that is so great for me. I do not want a bigger, overwhelming feeling in my life, I want your friendship, to have fun and be close friends." If he wants more then it's a bust, but maybe he's a boy who, in his youngness, attaches strongly and can or cannot step back a bit when she gives him a way to.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WCM View Post
When she says it gives her hives (I get exactly what she means here) does she elaborate that she doesn't feel that way about him? I to would shut down when a fun, friendly boyfriend would want MORE from me than I felt for him. If that's how she feels, her convo could be something along the lines of "when you say you love me it makes me uncomfortable because it's not a match to how I feel. I have fun with you and enjoy your company and your friendship, and that is so great for me. I do not want a bigger, overwhelming feeling in my life, I want your friendship, to have fun and be close friends." If he wants more then it's a bust, but maybe he's a boy who, in his youngness, attaches strongly and can or cannot step back a bit when she gives him a way to.
Thank you, WCM. This is exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for help with.

I think that, through talking about this a lot in the last few days, she knows she wants to "just be friends" but doesn't want to break up over the phone. The young man is having a very hard time with all this, as his father is newly dx with a heart problem (and works a lot so is not home), and his mother (his parents are divorced) is unapproachable for him.

She and I have been trying to figure out if a friendship is going to be salvageable for them. it's important to her, but he is obviously in a lot of pain as he is being very hard for her to talk to on the phone, saying hurtful things and not really wanting to "talk," just to vent.

I feel bad for both of them. Relationships are hard enough, without throwing in teenage stuff and an emotionally upsetting home life for him.

Thanks again for the ideas.

love, p
post #9 of 10
IMO, the best way to salvage a friendship from a relationship that ends is to cut off all contact with each other for a short time. Let both parties put some space and perspective between themselves and the relationship so that they can approach their new relationship with a fresh perspective.

However, having said that, I think 14 going on 15 is a little young for any of that really. I don't know that he would have the maturity to be able to move beyond his feelings in any sort of "reasonable" time period. One of the problems with trying to be "just friends" after you have been boyfriend and girlfriend is that often, at least one party is harboring a hope in the back of their mind that the other party will change their mind.
post #10 of 10
I wish someone had helped me understand that it was okay to just say how I felt. At that age, and even older, I had a lot of trouble with just saying "I like you" or even "I want to spend more time with you". For me it was was fear of being humiliated, made fun of, being vulnerable, looking like one of those "silly boy-crazy" girls.

I didn't learn healthy, adult communication until several dificult years into marriage. It caused me to lose several valuable friendships and some really good guys. I applaud your efforts to help them learn communication skills.
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