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Friday, May 9, 2014

Girls Who Love Boys They Can't Have

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm a mom of a teenage daughter.

I have had other teenage daughters, and sons, and all of the rest of them are grown and in college, on missions, or married.

My youngest daughter is my concern today, even though I have been to this rodeo many times before, and should be able to write my own column on teenagers and advice...I need some help with this one.

She is in love with a boy who does not like her.

The book "He's Just Not That Into You" may have been written for her.

She is cute, popular, a cheerleader, a Laurel class president, on the student council, the school newspaper, orchestra, Distinguished Young Women...the list goes on and on. She has a lot going for her!

We live in a small town with 3 stakes...lots of LDS kids, she has lots of friends, they go in various groups to school dances. She has liked this boy since they were in 8th grade, and in those early pre-dating years I know he liked her back.

He wrote embarrassingly mushy things in her yearbooks about how beautiful she was and how much he loved her. Silly stuff that 14 & 15 year olds write.

They would meet at Stake dances, and talk on the phone, and looked forward to the day they would both turn 16 so they could date.

That day came last May, and even as they both turned 16...he gradually stopped liking her.

She waited all summer for him to take her on their first official date, which kept getting postponed and rescheduled...trying to find another couple or two who could go with them, or some other excuse.

They talked about hiking to the top of a certain peak on an outing with friends and family. Nothing ever materialized.

It seemed like he just wasn't much into dating, but then she went to EFY for a week, and while she was gone he took another girl, a friend of my daughter's, on that hiking trip. Ouch.

We went on a family vacation, and she was told how he was cuddling on a beanbag chair at a movie party at one of their mutual friends houses. Ouch.

School started and he asked another of her friends to the Homecoming dance. Ouch.

He started hanging out with freshman girls who were too young to date, sitting with them at football games where my daughter was cheering. Ouch.

Their Jr. year is almost at end, and he has still not taken her on a date or asked her to a dance.

Recently she sat home without a date to her Junior prom, the only girl in their large group of friends to not have a date, and he decided to just not go either. He is saving money to fix up his car, he told her. (But back at Homecoming time, if there was a girl in their group who did not have a date he was able to part with some of his automobile restoration fund to take that girl.)

And I suspect that the reason she didn't asked to Prom is because all of their friends thought he would ask her, since they had been spending a little time together recently for the reason in the next paragraph.

For most of the past six months they weren't even Facebook friends, he "unfriended" her.

Then she decided to do the local Distinguished Young Women program (formerly Jr. Miss.) The theme for this year's program was "twist and shout" and each girl was required to find a boy for the opening number, which was a sock-hop type of swing dance thing.

Well this boy she's loved since 8th grade was her very good swing-dance partner from all of those Stake Dance instruction days, and they were actually pretty good. She is small so he can swing her around and lift her high, and wow, she said, it would be perfect if he could be her partner for Jr. Miss.

So she asked him, and he said, he would have to think about it.

He thought about it for several weeks, until the time came to finally do it, and he agreed, I think because she begged him.

So they had to spend a little time together again rehearsing, and she got to feeling like maybe he could like her again.

This is where she is now.

She will go and watch his rugby games, look for chances to see him...even though he pays her no attention other than as a friend, and I think he was being a good sport, and possibly enjoyed the attention, of getting asked to be her dance partner for the popular local Jr. Miss program.

There was a stake youth service project on Tuesday night, he was there, but didn't even talk to her.

She was fine with that, at least she got to see him. (!)

This email is too long I know, but I was just reading your post about creepy stalker boys, and you said that sometimes girls are the stalkers, and I am afraid that my daughter is starting to look like that, to me.

He has told her, recently, when she was hoping for him to ask her to Prom, that he thinks he is just not good for her. She meanwhile is still waiting for him to come around. I don't want her to spend her entire Senior year, as she has her Junior year, waiting for this boy to feel like he did when they were Freshman.

She needs to move on.

He has told her, her friends have told her, I have tried in every way to encourage her to move on.

She won't move on.

It's been months.

She doesn't mope around, she is involved in a lot of other activities at school, but she doesn't do much outside of school with friends.

Her two older married sisters found wonderful husbands when they were in college, and I believe that youngest daughter will too.

I know that after high school, and this kid hopefully leaves for a mission, she will eventually see this one-sided relationship for what it is, and move on to her young adult life.

But my fear is this. This kid knows how crazy she is about him, and knows that at the drop of a hat, he could get her to do most anything for him...bake him cookies, go to his games...other things come to mind. When one of his Freshman girlfriends dumps him, he knows that my daughter is there waiting and pining for him.

I worry that he could use this to his advantage...and take advantage of her.

And if she is in a state of mind of "he finally loves me again"...what values would she be willing to set aside for him if she seems to be more than willing to set aside all self-respect?

I don't have any reason to believe that he isn't a good kid, kind of immature maybe. Having had teenage sons and daughters, this one has set off my mom radar I guess, because it's been going on for so long, and she seems so blind. I have tried to counsel her on this, but that just kind of makes her not want to tell me things, and my husband is afraid if I tell her too firmly, (in other words but this might be what she hears): HE IS A JERK WHO DOESN'T LIKE YOU, QUIT GOING TO HIS RUGBY GAMES, YOU LOOK LIKE A STALKER, IT'S BEEN 3 YEARS, MOVE ON, that she won't confide anything in me anymore.

She talks online with her sisters from time to time, but they aren't here to see it in living color, they live a couple of time zones away.

Does she need counseling?

Should I talk to her YW leaders?

Her friends?

This boy's parents are in our stake, but kind of odd-ducks . . .

And he's not the problem, he just doesn't like her. I think when he broke off their friendship for a season, it may have been to get her to quit hoping they would get back together. 

But she just keeps hoping away.

Sorry to go on for so long, you are busy, and this might not be one you can answer. It made me feel better typing this out.

Maybe I can solve it myself.

Maybe time will solve it.

Maybe I can find a column of yours where you address some things that would be helpful to her.

Maybe it just takes some girls longer than her mom or her sisters to get over a boy who everyone else can see just doesn't like you like that.

Thanks,

- Worried Mom




Dear Mom,

It's tough to say why this boy isn't interested in your daughter . . . maybe he's stupid . . . maybe she's being too aggressive . . . maybe he's just interested in other stuff (or another girl) right now . . .heck, it's even possible that he does like her, but is smart enough to realize that he's reeling her in pretty good . . . or, perhaps, he's a Good enough Guy to recognize that the timing is wrong.

Ultimately, though, it doesn't matter much the reason.

The bottom line is that your daughter has "self-esteem issues".  (I hate psycho-babble phrases like that, but in this case it was the only way I could think of to say it.)

I think you know that.

She's looking to this boy for some kind of validation, and the rejection she's going through isn't helping.

The good news is, as far as I can tell, she hasn't yet crossed the line from Intensely Interested to Creepy Desperate Psycho Chick that will Drop Standards to "Get" Her Man.

I think being able to talk to her sisters is a huge help.

My advice to you, mom, is to land the helicopter.

Don't ignore what's going on, but be less obviously involved.

No, she doesn't need counseling; and no, you shouldn't be talking to anyone on her behalf.

Your husband is right, that will drive a wedge between you that may take years to repair.

If she begins to be depressed, to withdraw . . . if her grades suddenly drop, or she cuts off communication with all of her friends and family, those are Big Warning Signs that things have taken a turn for the worst.

I'm talking about more than just the standard teenage Bad Day or Mood Swings.

I'm talking about when her personality seems to change; when the light goes dark.

At that point, get her, and both you and your husband, into professional counseling; you may want to start by talking to your Bishop.

But, before we get there, look for opportunities for her to feel better about herself.

(And, NO, that does not mean that you become her cheerleader or compliment her all the time. Teens don't buy that . . . even if it's true.)

Have her host some boy-girl movie parties over at your home.  (I think it's best if this boy is not invited, but I doubt you'll get her to buy into that; just make sure lots of other guys are so when he doesn't show she'll have them to socialize with.)

Help your Stake's and Ward's Young Men Leadership learn that Casual Group Dating is great mission prep (that's one of the reasons it exists you know).

Get her to dances regardless of whether or not (and especially if not) he's there.

And look for service opportunities. Especially ones that you can do as a family.

Nothing helps us to feel better about ourselves than of being service to others.

Don't worry about being her friend, her pal, her confidant.

Be her mom.

And if that means saying "no, you may not go to the rugby game" then do it. Have some backbone!

(If you don't take a stand on her behalf, she won't either.)

She'll talk to you when she's ready.

Good Luck!

And God Bless, 

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you.

"Landing the helicopter" really made me think!

Is it possible that after 6 children and 32 years of marriage, that this last child left at home is occupying more of my time, and that I might be hovering more over her than the others?

I guess it's impossible that it's not that way, as I am so much older and wiser and have more free time to worry. :)

Perspective is great.

- RSP




Dear RSP,

It's not only possible, it's clearly true.

It's easier to have perspective when you have distance.

For what it's worth, not every teenager is lucky enough to have a parent like you who is smart enough to care as much as you do.

She may not always appreciate that now, but she will.

Hang in there!

(Just don't hover as much . . . or as close . . . or as obvious.)

- Bro Jo

2 comments:

Arthur Lee said...

Not to be antagonistic, but it's also possible her pride is hurt because this guy simply won't bend.

Azteroth said...

oh, this story brings back memories. I met and became friends with a boy in high school, we'll call him John (not this real name). John was popular with the girls from his Jr high, and there was this group of them who were desperately in love with him, as only love-sick 15 year old girls can be.
one in particular, we'll call her Mary (also not her real name), was his neighbor and they'd known each other for years and had been waiting until they turned 16 to date. Of course, as the time drew near and John became closer friends with me and my bff and discovered the relief of being with girls who didn't worship him, his interest in Mary waned.
I was friends with Mary, too, so I watched her turmoil throughout high school as she struggled with her completely unrequited feelings for John.
From my 3rd party perspective what I saw was that when John entered the wider world of high school he discovered that he had different tastes than what the limited options of Jr High had provided, and that Mary just wasn't his type. he wanted to play the feild so to speak, and never (that I recall) actually went steady with anyone during high school (except for a couple months with me one summer, but we'd been best friends for 2 years by then - he wanted most the girls he couldn't have, my best friend and me who never fawned over him).
Unfortunately, I never could come up with a way to convince his gaggle of followers to move on, especially Mary who I quite liked. It was sad to watch them and I genuinely wished that they'd learn to move on, fur their own happiness.
On the upside, eventually we all (John, Mary and I anyway) grew up and married other people far more suited to be our spouses.