More Teenage Boyfriend Concerns

Updated on January 15, 2019
C.S. asks from Phoenix, AZ
8 answers

Hi -

My 17 yo daughter is currently dating a guy from school. At the beginning of the school year, she broke up with a complete a**hole who continued to bother her for months - that has stopped and is no longer an issue (for those of you that go back and read old questions).

After breaking up with the jerk, she was having a great time with her friends and talking to a bunch of different guys. She told me she didn't want to date anyone and just wanted to have a good time (knowing she is going off to college in the fall). Literally 2 days after she told me this, she went out with a guy that swept her off her feet. He was super aggressive in pursuing her and within a week they were dating. He seems like a nice guy and she says he is a good person. I haven't seen any signs that he is treating her badly. They are spending a lot of time together and I can tell she is 100% in this relationship.

I started to suspect that he might be smoking weed and asked her about it. She said that he was and that he was trying to quit. My daughter does not smoke but it's a fairly big issue at her school and she says she has trouble finding a guy that she likes that doesn't. She knows our rules and I haven't seen anything concerning from her (in fact, she got straight A's last semester). Aside from the weed, he doesn't have a job (his parents just give him money), he misses school frequently and while he says he wants to go to college, he hasn't even applied yet. So, not ideal from a parent's perspective - but at least not an a**hole.

Last week she told me that he quit but that he was having a hard time with it. Last night she told me that he reached out to his parents for help and that they are sending him to rehab. She is upset because she has no idea how long he will be there (she said it could be 3 days or a month or more). I am happy that he is going to be getting the help that he needs but it is also bringing up a lot of different emotions as a parent. She is supposed to be having the time of her life and now she is waiting for an addict! She has her life together (good grades, good job, plans for college,etc) so why does she choose a guy with no ambition that doesn't have his act together?

She plans to go to college next year 3 hours away from home and seems really excited about it. The school he claims he wants to go to is many states away. So, maybe I shouldn't worry about this and let it just play out? I am trying to be understanding (which is what she wants from me) but keeping my parental concerns inside are tough. I told her that this is a serious situation that will affect him for the rest of his life. Any other advice I can give her or that can help me deal with this situation? Thanks!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all of the helpful advice. He was only gone for 3 days. It seemed like more of some additional help with anxiety than rehab. Things appear to be good since his return. However, he has mostly ditched all of his friends and spends all of his free time with my daughter. I am encouraging her to make sure she keeps her relationships with girlfriends and of course, she still has her job. I feel better about things and am just going to relax and see how things go!

More Answers


answers from Boston on

I think there may be more at play here. He's probably not going to rehab for just weed. There may be other substances, and they may be things he uses to mask or assuage other mental health issues. If he's an addict, he's not going for 3 days. Unless he is free to walk out on his own or his parents bail him out because he complains that he hates it, he's in for 30 days probably. I think it's important that we support people who seek help, and not paint a bad or dire picture ("affect him the rest of his life") until we know more.

I would encourage her to stop trying to fix people and to let the professionals take over. I would make sure she doesn't feel so much grade pressure that she doubts herself - is that why she is attracted to guys with problems? Sometimes dating people who are "less than" in some way (irresponsible, adventurous in a bad way, directionless...) is easy - we feel competent and superior in comparison. Some people, especially girls/women, see themselves as rescuers - like it's our job to fix broken people.

The fact that she's dated 2 people with problems is what should concern you. But you can't help her by continuing to tell her that this is serious, a problem, a bad choice. That can just reinforce her feelings of insecurity. She needs to be confident going off to college so she isn't taken advantage of by other guys with forceful personalities.

I would consider getting her a life coach to help prep her for life on her own, develop the skills she will need to work with her professors and advisor, and be comfortable in her own skin. She needs to be able to be comfortable as a single woman, not relying on a boyfriend to make her feel worthy. This is beyond your ability to help her - you need to back away because you've been doing this for 17 years and some of it's not working, and also because she needs to separate from you when she goes to school. She needs a professional - but I'd get a life coach vs. a counselor. The boyfriend needs professional intervention if he's going to come back from this, and she needs to let his team work on his many issues. It's not disloyal - it's sensible.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Despite what others may say, I personally would NOT take weed addiction lightly. Is it a drug that you have worry about a deadly overdose like opioids or alcohol? No. BUT, it can lead to a complete lack of motivation and caring about school or any kind of aspirations. Weed can take priority over healthy relationships and pursuits, which often disappear when use starts to become a regular habit. Grades can tank, A's to F's. Brain development can be significantly damaged. I've seen that happen. Like alcohol, I'm sure some people, even teens, are able to use weed once in a while recreationally, and not turn into addicts. Some who are wired differently, ARE addicts, and like alcoholics, CANNOT handle smoking just a little here and there, it just snowballs.

I give that young man a lot of credit for trying to stop smoking weed, and his parents for getting him into treatment. It is NOT easy or even possible once addiction takes hold for anyone to "just stop" on their own.

As for your daughter, she should really be supportive of however long he needs to be away or away from contact while he is in treatment. The longer he is in any kind of reatment, the better chance it has of working. The time apart itself has a good chance of cooling their relationship naturally. Plus if he takes it seriously, he will be focusing on taking care of himself for a good while. If your daughter doesn't smoke, she can be a safe sober friend for him.

It's a lot though. And I will caution that the vast majority of teens in treatment do not enter by their own choice, and will go through the motions with no intentions of maintaining sobriety for life, especially if their drug of choice is widely used or more socially acceptable, such as alcohol or weed. Often kids meet other troubled kids in treatment, and wind up with more drug connections, and spiral into bigger problems. Sometimes it can get worse before it gets better. You don't have any way of knowing what this young man's journey will be.

I'd advise your daughter to watch to see if he's taking treatment seriously, and if he's not, give some thought if they are truly compatible. Also, even if he IS trying right now, once he's back in his same environment, it's very very likely he will go right back to using. Is he willing to cut ties with all his smoking friends? Pretty tall order for teens today. Will he go back to the same school? Maybe his parents will track him into a fresh start in a new environment. I'd just caution her to be wise, and be emotionally prepared. Be supportive, optimistic, but realistic too.

And also that it is OK if it's too much for her be involved with someone in early recovery. She hasn't been seeing him for very long, she may want to slow things down when he comes around again. She does deserve to be going out and having fun whether or not the boy she is dating is struggling. She can take this opportunity he is away to spend time with her girlfriends and other good people and activities.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

If he is in high school, then he totally could be going to rehab for pot. It's stupid, but there are "weed rehabs" out there for high school students. My mom worked at one :) Yes, you can even get insurance/county funding IF they are in high school and have some other related issue (his is likely truancy?).

I'd just let it all play out - so many things change once she is off to college. I think I'd focus a bit on why she is choosing guys that are not really healthy choices, but I'd wait until she is done with this guy otherwise it looks like a play to get her away from him.

Good luck - it's hard to watch our kids flounder as they move towards adulthood. Just make sure that you are stepping in only when necessary :)

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

So other people have already covered the fact that rehab for weed is kind of suspect, unless his parents are paying out of pocket and in that case, I guess anyone will take your money.

That said...I totally dug loser guys when I was younger. I was a straight-as-an-arrow "good girl" teen and young adult who was wired really tightly and never wanted to do anything wrong. That wasn't anything my parents imposed or inspired, I was just very focused on achievement and loved the validation and praise that I got from being a good student, good employee, good daughter, etc. And I was a plain-jane in the looks department. So rather than take risks myself, I dated guys who did. Frankly, loser guys are kind of exciting. They're a little dangerous, they bring tons of drama, and they're usually kind of hot, they do dumb things that you don't have the nerve to try yourself, they aren't afraid to have fun. You never get bored, but you do get tired of it after a while. Loser guys entice good girls with the promise of change. They are the kings of "if only..." If only [whatever] my problems would go away and I'd be a great guy. They let the good girl think she can fix him, and that's really empowering for the girl (until she figures out it's BS).

Both of my older kids, who are now 21 and 20, went through phases were they were attracted to people with serious issues and thought they could rescue them. My daughter did this twice, once with a roid-raging boy who was all into anger and self-loathing and had body issues (constantly cutting fat to bulk up his 14-year-old overly-muscled physique) and once with a guy when she was a little older who is a hot mess and a misogynist. My son dated a girl who had a dysfunctional family, was a cutter, and spent 10 days inpatient for attempts or threats to self-harm. I was seriously afraid that she'd get pregnant and I'd be tied to her forever. Thankfully that flame that burned hot, burned out after a few months. When they broke up, she stalked him for a while through his friends and finally went away after a year. I've heard that she has two kids now (she's maybe 21).

Anyway...with both kids, we had frank talks about the fact that they can't help someone who has serious issues. I acknowledged that the people who are a hot mess of trouble are usually pretty attractive and charismatic and a lot of fun, and relationships with them can be very intense and exciting. And, it feels really good to be needed and to have someone tell you how great you are and that they're working on being worthy of you, etc. but that at the end of the day, you're not doing anyone any favors by staying in a relationship with someone who needs to work on him or herself. By staying in the relationship, you're distracting them from the real help that they need, which comes from adults who are qualified to give that help. That if it's meant to be, things will work out when that person is healthy and whole and truly ready to date. But in the meantime, walk a way and only date people who are really healthy and whole and available, and save the nutty people for distant friendships at most.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

You don't go to rehab for weed (or at least, I've never heard of that). I have a family member who needed help from drugs, and it was stronger than that. So... that doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I think there's some disconnect there.

Your daughter seems attracted to the wrong people. What kind of friendships does she have?

I wouldn't be concerned with the people she is into. I'd focus on your daughter. Sometimes we're missing the bigger picture in other words. What's up with your daughter's self esteem. I like the point Diane makes. Why does she need to be liked by these types of guys?

When I was in high school and college, I turned down dates from guys who my mom liked. I went out with the 'bad boys'. I was good pals with all the 'right' guys. It wasn't until I realized I deserved the 'right' guys that I met my husband. I wish I could go back and do it over again, but it was a learning experience. I don't know why my self confidence was low - but it was.

I would work at building up your daughter's confidence. Don't let her focus on these guys with issues. Get her involved in things that make her happy. She should be focusing more on her female friendships. I wish I had spent more time with my gal pals, than with boyfriends. That I think was where I screwed up. I was a bit boy crazed those years.

ETA: MilitaryMom - I stand corrected! I had no idea.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I ran so fast from nice, good boys until my early 20’s. I said they were “boring.”. Now I realize I wasn’t comfortable enough with boys to understand they really can be friends just like girls etc. So the “bad boy” aspect gave the relationship drama and in turn, something to talk about and all. I’m not sure that’s the same as being insecure or not thinking I was good enough but it could have become an issue if I hadn’t dated a really nice guy who changed my outlook. Long story why I dated him vs ran like usual but he was life altering even though I moved so it never become really long term. So I plan to explore that angle with my daughters if any of them seem to have the same appetite for bad boys. And some of the guys I dated were really good looking so having this really attractive guy “need” me was very flattering. The kind of “no one understands him like I do. He’s not a jerk and he needs me and picked me over all the other girls he could get.”. Thank goodness I didn’t marry one of them. So I would point out this possibility to your daughter and then let it evolve. She’s very young and I’m sure going to college will shift things. There will be so many new boys there.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i'd be worried too in your shoes. of course we want better for our kids- motivated, engaged, ambitious young people who want to make the world a better place as well as be good mates for our beloved kids.

the pot-smoking isn't a huge deal in my book, but it's not to be taken too lightly either. it speaks well for him that he went to his parents for help when he realized it was no longer under his control, for them that they are helping him.

so there's that.

but you can't do anything about him, can you?

all you can realistically do is continue to support your daughter, and hopefully help her figure out how to set her own boundaries so she starts picking better quality boys.

it IS encouraging that this one is better than the last, but she needs to value herself much more highly.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

It’s not that unusual for a 17 year old boy to be apathetic about school and unsure when it comes to the future. There are also many good and ultimately happy and successful people who have smoked pot and struggled with addiction issues. I would be careful about writing him off as an “addict” who “doesn’t have his act together.” There are people who seem to have it together in high school but really struggle later, and there are people for whom growing up is more of a process. High school is just four years in what hopefully is a long life.

If he is nice to her and treats her well, I wouldn’t worry too much about the relationship unless she starts to change her own college plans for him, or starts to feel responsible for his well being. Sounds like so far she has been a good influence on him, and he is kind to her, and as for your concerns that she should be having the “time of her life”, what exactly does that mean? She’s working hard, looking forward to college. Really, this is not the last time in her life that she will be able to have a good time. She sounds like a caring person who has been learning from her previous bad choice. Her last boyfriend was a a**hole, and this one is a nice guy, right?

You clearly have enjoyed a close relationship with her through her teen years, which is not always easy. Enjoy her final months at home, provide her the understanding she is asking for. If he continues to struggle, and it turns out to be more than pot, you and she can learn together about addiction so that she doesn’t see it as her problem. I’d maybe recommend the book “Beautiful Boy”, which chronicles from a parent’s perspective a teen/young man’s addiction. The young man (now a healthy and successful writer) wrote a book too, although I haven’t read that one yet.

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