Emotionally Needy Teen Dating

I have a daughter, young teen years. She’s a good kid. She’s suffered some sexual abuse in her life, that caused us some “trouble” with setting good choices when she first started dating. But I went through all the proper channels with the abuse (and prosecuting legally as needed) and getting her in therapy. Her therapist has suggested that she is ready for some independence… and an ability to socialize outside of my direct supervision.

My problem is. My daughter is VERY needy for male attention and approval. She puts up lots of walls with guys and I don’t THINK she’d allow any boys to manipulate or use her… I am fairly sure. Though I sware to NOTHING! I do think we are on a good path. Problem is, lately she has had trouble finding a boy to like her as a boyfriend. I’d think… this is great. But it devestates her. She was in her room crying about it last night… cause it’s been 2 months with no boyfriend. Very teen drama… “my life is over!” :slight_smile: It worries me a great deal that she feels such a serious NEED for a boyfriend to define herself and prove her worth as a person. I did the whole “mom speech” full of how she shouldn’t define herself based on others, and she should love and accept hersself as is. Plus she is a beautiful, smart and funny girl. All she responded with is “Of course you think that, your my Mom… you don’t understand!” I guess I don’t.

I worry that her NEED for boys is a clear sign she’s to young to date, but that would depress her SEVERELY and make her feel even less in the loop of mainstream school kids. I don’t want to make her feel like more of an outcast than she already fears she is in her own mind, she is so stressed about this already. I want to help, and not cause her more problems. I feel it’s a self esteem problems… which is crazy cause she really is a quite attractive girl, that has a good shape and cute face. No reason to feel ugly, yet she picks herself apart (like is her forehead to big or boobs to small).

So any suggestion? Any suggestions on helping teen girls with self worth? Any good ways to get them to put less value on men’s (or anyone elses) opinions?

Mom advice isn’t to change how they act today, it’s there to ring in their head as an “I told you so” after they’ve fucked up. Kids make their own mistakes, and you aren’t gonna change it. Take the necessary precautions (curfew, etc) that ensure she doesn’t end up killed, but other than that there’s not much you should do.

Just IMO.

I really don’t think you want to invite a debate over your daughter’s mental health or your parenting skills, so I am going to move this to MPSIMS where personal questions are more often discussed.

[ /Modding ]

You know, I grew up in an upper-middle-class household with my biological parents in a loving, stable marriage (to each other!). There was no sexual abuse at all, and I was smart and had enough friends to get me by.

The crummy mistakes I made in pursuit of male attention make me sick, when I look back at them. The creeps, the weirdos, the rape attempts, the emotional abuse, the manipulation, and the enormous waste of my time and energy are gobsmacking.

My conclusion is that if a woman doesn’t have natural spunk, she’s just going to have some hard knocks. Do what you can to make sure they aren’t physical.

Also, one thing I wish looking back on… is that my parents had acknowledged that the need to love someone, and be loved, is natural and primal. I might have told them about some of the crap that was going on.

Exactly how old is she?

I think this is par for the course. My own mother handled it with her four daughters by arranging for us to be involved in something that got us out of our own heads – sport, volunteer work, community theater, photography, mentoring younger children, and being a tour guide all come to mind and I am sure there were more.

It is hard to get a teen out of her own head but it is a useful exercise.

How old is she?

My own opinion is that kids are too young for dating before about 15 or so. She should be hanging out with friends of both sexes in groups. Girls that age do want to be loved, but they’re too young to handle all the stuff that comes with dating relationships (and so are boys).

But you say that would devastate her. So I don’t know what to do; the environment that young girls live in now is so toxic–sexually objectifying, demanding physical perfection and the erasing of a self, etc.–that I don’t know how to deal with it except to deal with it as little as possible. You might like to pick up books like The triple bind and see if that helps you at all. (I think it’s true for boys too, but in different ways.)

Ditto this! I highly recommend a therapist. I am going through the same thing with my own teen. We found a young, attractive, female therapist (relateable to her) who helps her to see the error of her thinking. They work on strategies, which haven’t solved the problem, but at least she’s thinking about it.

I totally agree with Marienee about keeping her active in activities. Keep her as busy in activities as you possibly can. 1)She won’t have as much time to obsess, and 2)she’ll be developing her strengths, which will counteract her low self-esteem. It’s been challenging to find activities that my daughter will agree to, but they’re out there.

I agree with the advice to get her involved in activities. Activities that help her make female friends could be especially beneficial. Unless you feel she really needs more therapy, take the time and energy you might put into therapy and support her in taking on a new activity - a sport, dance classes, a volunteer thing where they raise money and go on trips, school plays, Junior Achievement. One good thing about the helicopter parents and all their overprogramming is that there are lots of options out there. Even modeling classes might be beneficial if you absolutely can’t get her out of teenage girl mode. Forcing her will be a losing battle, but take whatever she does have a passion for (other than guy of the month) and run with it.

My daughter is 14. As far as boyfriends, she doesn’t actually date yet. They call each other that “titles” like bf & gf but never go on actual dates. Closest thing is group meetings with friends at Mall with possible movie. A minimum of 6 kids usually. And the last one I sat one row behind them.

I am more worried about her preoccupation with needing another person to feel personally or socially worthwhile. I worry that I failed her as a mom. I want her to be strong, strong enough the world won’t break her. I will strongly take all advice into consideration. She is in activities & therapy.

Hm. This reminds me of my best friend in high school. She also had been sexually abused, and she also was desperate for male attention. She made a lot of bad choices about who she dated and regularly subordinated her own needs to guys’ wants. But she ended up a strong independent woman with a wonderful loving husband.

I’d say that you should be really pragmatic about the fact that she is very likely to be sexually active and make sure that she has access to contraceptives–preferably both condoms and a backup method. And just be there for her. She may weather some rough times, but she may come out of it stronger than she would have been otherwise.

Good luck to both of you.

Tell that this guy Mookie on straight dope is 22 years old and he knows no member of the opposite sex will ever care about him in any fashion. Maybe then she’ll feel better.

I think she’s acting perfectly normally for a teenaged girl.

I had a really normal life and I’ve always had great self worth. (Still do!)
But as a teenager? Oh the angst! The trauma! The unfairness of the universe!
NOTHING would EVER be ok…ever…in my whole life.

I think you might be overthinking this because of her past. My advice, since the therapist knows whats happening, is relax a little. Being a teenager sucks.

Dude…just don’t. :dubious:

OP: One thing to remember – fourteen year old girls are VERY hormonal and emotional. EVERYTHING is a huge crisis and THE END OF THE UNIVERSE!!! My hair is ugly, and I have a zit, and I hate my clothes!!!

I can’t advise you about the scars of sexual abuse, but so far as the rest, just keep in mind it’s going to be rough for awhile – fourteen is a really sucky age for a girl. Hang in there and I wish you luck.

Based on your other threads you really are coming across as a borderline troll playing a “dance puppets, dance!” game with this stuff.

No, it’s not. None of the girls I went to primary school with had it. When we moved over to High School, we got 8 classmates who had it, all of them from the same school (there were two years when that school produced nothing but girls like that). There is even a word for it in Spanish: “pantalonera.” If all girls defined herself by whether they could or could not claim to be “X’s girl”, there would be no need for a special word.

Those classmates got over it with time… most of them, sadly, did so with a baby as well. There isn’t much the parents can do.

After the screwups, do NOT go the “I told you so” route. Go the “ok, let’s see what we can do about it” route.

Huh. I thought it was a joke, which would mean he was getting better.

But on a serious note, this seems normal. My sister is very pretty and has been offered modeling opportunities multiple times. She went through the same thing, picking apart the smallest flaws and crying over boys who didn’t want her.

You can try and teach her whatever you want about the situation, but this seems like a lesson she’ll need to learn herself (hopefully not the hard way).

What sort of activities is she in? Seeing how I am now - as a 30 year old woman who does spend too much time thinking “nobody wants me!” because I’m no longer involved in activities - I could see myself as being totally like your daughter when I was her age. If I wasn’t in a lot of activities. Competitive activities.

But, when I was 14 I was in band and softball and science olympiad. I had lots of teammates and lots of chances to achieve something awesome. I was having so much fun and concentrating on team achievements that I didn’t hardly notice I was without a boyfriend until I was 19.

If most of my activities involved hanging out with other kids who had boyfriends/girlfriends, and all we had to talk about was boyfriend/girlfriend drama, I probably would have been pretty messed up. I’m actually glad that our Girl Scout troop disbanded by the time we were pre-teens. I didn’t have to go through all the “mushy stuff.”

I hope to God she isn’t reading the Twilight series. From what little I have read and heard about it, the behavior of the female protagonist is exactly the opposite of what most people would want their young teen girls to engage in.