My 15-year-old daughter has a boyfriend now. He’s a good boy. My problem is that she has simply “dropped” her other friends after he came into the picture. Till last year she and her three friends were inseparable. Now she has no time for them. All the spare time, even study time, is spent with the boy. In what words do I explain to her that this is not healthy?
Mature, grown men and women too tend to let many special friendships and affections simply lapse and fall by the wayside once they have a partner. To some extent this is natural—your time with your friends is reduced as you choose to spend more time with your partner. You could try and get this point through to your daughter, making it clear that you are not objecting to the boyfriend, per se. That over-focusing on a relationship to the exclusion of all other relationships can be emotionally unhealthy for both people concerned. When a young girl cuts out the casual ease and special charm of spending time with her girlfriends and family, she tends to want far too much to come out of this one relationship that she concentrates on. Moreover, she expects him, and now only him, to understand her every mood, her anxieties and her hopes. She also expects him to be, at all times, the happy “recipient” of all her love and affection, and for him to “be there” for her in the same single-minded fashion. You could explain to her that this puts a great strain on the relationship.
Two much: Constant togetherness can be harmful.
Underline the fact that this is an unrealistic expectation and one that is bound not to be met fully. He may be busy at times, or may simply not want to be in this constant one-on-one mode with her. When that happens, she would wrongly identify it as “he doesn’t love me” or “he’s not giving enough”.
While constant togetherness may seem very cozy and loving at the beginning of a relationship, it is far healthier to have a broad band of relationships, which touch upon different aspects of your personality and your social and emotional needs—this is what you will need to demonstrate to her and the boy too, if you can talk to him. You may find that they will both, at some level, be quite grateful to you for putting some perspective into the situation without preventing them from meeting.
Gouri Dange is the author of The ABCs of Parenting.
Send your queries to Gouri at firstname.lastname@example.org