Teen Daughter Is Obsessed with Boyfriend Even After He Broke up with Her

Updated on October 25, 2019
J.M. asks from Knoxville, TN
14 answers

My daughter is 18, has always been a loving terrific kid and student with great talent and beauty. With that description, why isn’t the x boyfriend obsessed with her? Is this a self esteem issue? Or deeper? She caters to him, buys him things, caters to his family, uses her car to go and come, etc. In our opinion, it has never really been mutual. He never quite reciprocated as much as her. Now for the worst part.... he broke up with her and under our noses she allows herself to get used by him. He goes off to college, she visits him, he starts drinking, she starts drinking with him, he starts smoking pot, she does it with him, and when the cop pulls them over, SHE TAKES FULL RESPONSIBILITY, and now SHE’s the one going to court. She tried to keep this from us, and when I found out I almost died. All she could say is, I love him and wanted to protect him. Wow, I still can’t believe it. Like I said, she’s always been a great kid, I’m at a loss. I don’t know why she’s doing this and not thinking about her own future and why she can’t realize this boy is using her. What do you think is going on here? What do you think is going on with her thinking? Help?

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C.T.

answers from Santa Fe on

She needs therapy....she needs to learn to not be a doormat and let him walk all over her. Also she deserves someone who thinks she is great too. It's hard but she really has to cut this guy out of her life!! Wisdom really does take time...she will most likely look back on this episode in her life and be embarrassed at how she acted.

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S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

i assume you're not actually asking strangers to explain the psychology of a typically selfish and self-absorbed boy. why does it matter anyway that he's not 'obsessed with her' (gods forbid)?

your very next statements explain it largely anyway. your daughter has made herself his doormat. he's walking on her, just as he's been invited to do.

what you should be trying to figure out is why your adult daughter has made it this far with such low self-esteem and ability to judge character. it doesn't mean you've raised her badly. many young woman suffer with these challenges. but you looking to find the answers in the boy of her misguided dreams instead of looking for ways to empower her paint a picture of parents who consistently find outside reasons to attach blame.

you can't make her stop obsessing over him. you can't make her think about her future or anything else to which you've attached importance without consulting her first.

i'd suggest you stop your own obsession with the boy and focus on your daughter. not fixing her or making her agree with you, but with deepening your own understanding of her motives, and how she got here.

that means giving her time and space, asking her questions and actually listening to her answers, and not imposing your opinions, values and judgments on her.

good luck.

khairete
S.

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R.L.

answers from Chicago on

It’s hard to know why she is engaging in a relationship that doesn’t sound very healthy without knowing more about her and your family. I’m confused about your sentence, “With that description, why isn’t the x boyfriend obsessed with her?” Are you wanting a boyfriend to be obsessed with her? That doesn’t really sound like what you want, but it is a puzzling sentence.

You said she’s a terrific kid with great talent and beauty, but it is not unusual for how someone feels inside to not match what you see on the outside. I think it’s fair to ask her questions about how she feels inside, and about the relationship, as long as you’re gentle and not accusatory. Let her tell you about their time together, what they do, did she have a good time. What was his reaction to her taking the fall for him? What sort of relationships do her friends have? What does she think about them? Sometimes teens can be more insightful about other people than themselves, but that can lead to self-reflection. Make sure you keep a good connection with her and good communication. You want her to come to her own conclusions about whether he is a good guy and what kind of guy she feels she deserves.

Put your foot down on the drinking/pot and driving though, maybe no car until she gets some counseling and can show you she understands how important that is.

Some things to think about would include what she is doing with her life, what kind of relationship she has with her father, what kind of relationship you have with your husband,. Is she still in high school? College? Working? If she is not doing anything other than boyfriend, that is a bigger worry obviously, but rather than focusing on him, I would try to focus on her. Emphasize that relationships are always better when both partners have a life outside of the relationship. He is in college pursuing his goals, what does she want to do?

Is her father kind and supportive to her, to you? Children learn what they live, so if she has had good models and she is choosing differently, then the question to her is, “why?” If she has had poor models, then help her think about how she feels about all of her relationships and help her recognize that it will take work on her part to see that she can do better.

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

Sounds like me at that age.

Being dumped can wreak havoc with someone's ego at that age, if it was fragile to begin with - even if it seems like you have it all.

I became obsessed with my ex - I cringe to say it now, and we got back together/on-off for years. He enjoyed the control. So toxic.

What you can do - counseling for her (just encourage it) and be supportive. Remind her she deserves more, and that she has you - always. Remind her she's wonderful.

Listen.

She likely feels he's her ALL and she's nothing or has nothing without him. She feels he is giving her her worth. So awful. That's the toxic nature of their relationship. It's not him - it's her - she feels low. Don't focus on the guy, focus on her. He may be emotionally manipulative, but you can't change him, she's allowing it - and that you can change - or rather she can.

Good luck :)

ETA - as for needing therapy - I did. I dropped my studies, because hyper focussed on my boyfriend/ex and had underlying issues. I had gone through a lot and buried it deep, and never talked about it. I found it easier to focus on someone else (who was willing to enjoy it - kind of a narcissistic guy) rather than my problems that needed addressing. I wasn't deeply screwed up, but I had gone through stuff a kid doesn't typically (death, tragedy, etc.) and hadn't gotten help.

I don't know about your daughter's situation - but I needed a counselor. So .. that's just my own experience. I was straight A, had friends, had other guys interested in me, etc. but was sad underneath it all .. and you don't always feel you can talk to your mom. So that's why talking to someone else is helpful.

A counselor or therapy doesn't have to be super deep or mean you've got major issues. It can be a session or two. A lot of campuses have walk in services. It can just be enough to turn a person's life around. Seriously.

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S.M.

answers from Boston on

I’m sorry. I dread this happening to one of my daughters. I got obsessed with boyfriends too at that age. People say she’s an adult but IMO only legally. They call it young love bc chemicals in their brains are different. I often liked “bad boys” I see now bc I never learned to be friends with boys first. Not really comfortably friends. So I needed drama. Luckily there seemed to be plenty of boys around at that age so I never fixated on one so long. But I honestly would get her to a counselor. She needs perspective and honestly she may need an antidepressant. She could literally think this is the only guy who will ever care about her to the degree he does. Medication can get people out of a loop of negative thinking. The court thing is pretty concerning otherwise I’d say if she goes to college, I bet she meets plenty of new boys to get her mind off him.

Elmnt5 - if she wasn’t taking blame in court for this guy, I’d agree with you. But undergoing some kind of legal ramifications for something she didn’t do is cause for alarm. It’s not clear something won’t go on her permanent record and/or she’ll lose her license etc. That’s serious.

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S.S.

answers from Atlanta on

J.,

Please understand this: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. YOU may feel your daughter is beautiful and talented, but HE may not.

She is a door mat for him. Why does she feel he is the only fish in the sea? Why does she feel the need to be his door mat?

You're focused on her beauty and talent. You're not focused on the real problem!! Her lack of self-esteem and her uni-vision for this one boy.

I'd ask her why this one boy is so special that she would risk her livelihood for him. Did he protest at all and tell her NOT to do it? Or did he willingly let her take the fall? Ask her these questions. Ask her WHY she chose to take the fall for him and tell her "because I love him" isn't good enough. Would he do the same for her? If the answer is no. then she needs to understand the love isn't reciprocated.

She needs a good lawyer. Does she know how much those cost? WHO is going to get her the lawyer? Is the boyfriend or his family going to chip in because she took the fall for him?

What can you do to show her she is being used? Introduce her to other young men who are more respectable. If they treat her well and she runs? She needs help. Serious help. She lack confidence in who she is. And it's NOT based on beauty. It's her INNER SELF.

Good luck!

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*.*.

answers from New London on

Parenting a teen is so hard. This sounds incredibly emotional for you.

I remember doing so much for a teen boyfriend and he left me, too. I never drank or smoked like he did. But, I, too had a low self esteem back then.

My Mom did not get involved too much except to say that I needed to get on with my studies.
Luckily, I did.

I would have her talk to a counselor because of her over involvement with him.
Is your daughter in college? Hopefully, she will be in school far away from him to start over.

Hugs to you as this is not easy.

The boy I chased after like that for yrs married the girl he left me for. I bumped into him a few yrs ago and he told me that I was too nice back then. That sounds like what this boy would say. I found that to be an interesting comment.
I stand my ground in any relationship with friends, etc....now.

She is a TEEN and really cannot see what she is doing. If she does have a low self esteem on top of it all....She will need some intervention.

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

This relationship almost sounds abusive, he is using breaking up and leaving her as a way to manipulate her into giving him what he wants. But she may not see it for years until he has taken too much from her. Talk to her about why he is so important to her, because you can love someone and still admit they are not good for you.

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R.B.

answers from San Francisco on

I too am a little troubled by your first two sentences. Plenty of people are talented and beautiful at that age, and they still get dumped. I don't know why you would want boyfriend to be "obsessed" with her. Having a number of short-term relationships at that age is normal. That is what we are supposed to do, as we learn about ourselves and what we want in a future partner.

I think I would tell my daughter that he is using her, that they will probably break up, because that is what happens at her age, as it should. At 18, she should not end with her first boyfriend for the rest of her life. That sometimes works out, but rarely.

So if she knows this is going to end eventually, maybe she'll be less willing to let this guy use her. Keep your advice short and sweet. She will have to learn some or most things through experience, as we all do.

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L.U.

answers from Seattle on

I grew up in a two parent home. Traditional. My mom stayed at home with the kids and my dad worked. I played soccer on a premier team, I was in the orchestra, I went to church weekly. I look back at my pictures and think I was a pretty young lady. I did well enough in school.
My first boyfriend had sex with me after 9 months and dumped me the next day.
My second boyfriend was extremely controlling and abusive. Hit me, raped me at gun point, used me for my money, and was a horrible human. I stayed with him for almost a year.
I have dated a few losers in my life. And I catered to their every whim and need.
Why? (after a lot of therapy, I can tell you now what I wish I knew then)
I based my worth on their treatment of me. My parents did not raise me and tell me I was beautiful and smart and worthy of a king. I did not have a close relationship with my mother or my father. I was their babysitter to their 4 sons (my brothers). My mom didn't come to my soccer games. Nor did she come to my music concerts. They sent me to abstinence classes and told me not to have sex until marriage and basically said only whores did that. They kicked me out when I got pregnant.
They did not show me real love. And I went looking for it in all the wrong places.
I have no idea what kind of relationship you have with your daughter. But I can tell you that what you are describing is someone who doesn't value themselves...for whatever reason. Someone who doesn't feel worthy of a healthy love.
Take a good look at yourself and her father. Then get her into counseling. The last thing she needs is to keep looking for an unhealthy love.

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E.M.

answers from Louisville on

Get her in to therapy to see why she thinks she needs to be with someone that uses her

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R.M.

answers from Albany on

Oh dear...that is VERY worrisome. I suspect that her relationship with her Dad is not a good one. If he is in the picture, I would get him very involved with her. A girl who is so needy and seeks attention and love from a boy, is most often because she missed that close bond as a younger girl. Counselling is in order.

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R.P.

answers from Tampa on

J. .. come on we were all 18. We made mistakes on dating those that treated us not so nice, our parents also cringed.

That’s why it’s so hard being a parent, we learned from our mistakes and now watching our sons and daughters make similar, we try telling them but unfortunately they don’t always listen.

As far as why he is not returning the same, cause either he is not that much into her or she is so up his “arse” he doesn’t need to. He already knows he has her.

Not sure what she took upon herself as far as them driving, if she was driving she is at fault. If he was he’s at fault ( of corse depending what the “crime” was). I would just get a lawyer and make sure nothing goes on her record. Cause when this relationship is over .. you do not want her having a record of any sort. Again not sure what the insistent was.

There is nothing going on.. she thinks she loves him. Again remember yourself at that age. I would just try to get her away from seeing him ( make it natural) either plan a day out with her, or have her gf come over, heck even a vacation or a little get away. My mother always had friends with cute sons so she always tried to introduce me to a new guy. But honestly not much you can do. In time she will understand. Just be there for her.. I am sure by now she knows you are not crazy about him.. maybe read a story about a guy doing something romantic and point it out to her-but don’t rub it in, she will get defensive.

My mother always told me never to run after a guy. They like a challenge and when something is too easy they will use or lose interest quickly. I lived by this and honestly it worked for me. I hope she will realize that she needs a nice guy and will continue with her future plans without him.

Ps... it always surprises me that people will suggest “ therapy” lol seriously for this? Throwing “therapy” with every wind blow undermines actually those that really need it! Basic problems mentally sound people should be able to resolve it by themselves.

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N.K.

answers from Miami on

Well, I had written this long, detailed response, and when I hit "post" it disappeared, so I will try my best to retype it from memory: Sounds to me like inexperience, immaturity and naivete are to blame -- maybe also some low self-esteem. She is still in love with him and is probably hoping he will see the light and go back with her if he notices how much she is willing to do for him. I know I was guilty of the same behavior, around that age. I wanted to impress this guy and became a pushover, someone he could walk all over. I was hoping my actions would eventually get him to want to be with me, because I was just so smitten with him! I tolerated being stood up on dates a few times, him taking me somewhere where his ex-girlfriend would be and holding my hand, just to make her jealous (he even admitted it and I didn't see any problem with that back then), stayed up late burning music CDs for him -- all in an effort to get him to stop being aloof and noticing that I was so dedicated to him, that no one else would do all the things I did for him.

Sure, he could be charming, one time he offered to get in the face of my college roommates who were tormenting me (which meant driving almost 2 hours, just for me, oh, how chivalrous!), but, most of the time it seemed like he just enjoyed the flattering he received from my company, the fact his friends admired how an awkward, short, geeky guy could get an attractive woman to like him, the compliments I gave him, and the fact I bent over backwards for him -- all while he had the luxury of sometimes jerking me around. I had an on-off friendship with this guy for a couple of years, hoping he would someday be my boyfriend, despite my mother's advice that he was using me and that I was too good for him, because I just loved a self-assured, highly intelligent guy. I didn't know about things like manipulation, I was naive and inexperienced when it came to relationships and I thought she just didn't like him because that's what moms do. One day, it just clicked, and I was done with him for good, never sought him out again.

Young men and women can get very attached to someone (yes, I now admit I was guilty of that, being a clingy person). They can become obsessive, especially when that one person was their first true love or serious relationship, I would say. I don't think she realizes that most people simply do not change, and a guy letting her take the fall for something he did to the point she can get in a lot of legal trouble is a user. To me it shows he doesn't give a hoot for her. She probably has been watching too many romantic movies where the guy suddenly realized the girl doing everything for him was his true love, he wakes up, apologizes for being so stupid and blind, asks her to marry him, and they live happily ever after. In real life, people like that take advantage of the vulnerable person and drain their blood as much as they can, it's not like in the movies!

I think part of the reason I put up with this was because I suffered from low self-esteem as my parents were always on my case about my weight, and I guess I enjoyed the attention from this man, however bad it was. I was also very socially awkward when it came to relationships and very inexperienced, so I never thought this guy was full of red flags, though I certainly can see it now. At one point, when younger, I thought a guy controlling me meant he wanted me in his life, and was romantic, now, the minute I feel anyone trying to control me, I am out. This may be what is going on with your daughter, as well as a fear of being alone, and not knowing how to stand on her own two feet, without a boyfriend. For many college kids, their relationships and love life define them. Maturity and life experiences change things. Maybe this punishment she faces and his shrugging and unwillingness to come clean and man up may be the slap in the face that she needs to wake up and realize this guy is not good news, he is a manipulator, and that this isn't a healthy relationship.

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