Daughter’s Boyfriend Needs Help

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My daughter has been dating a young man for about 18 months while away at college. He can be very nice but has a history of drug and alcohol abuse- which he says he is stopping. He was a victim of child abuse and has self esteem issues. He has broken up with my daughter 3 times in the last 3 months. Each time tearful and saying he needs to find himself. Each time begging her to take him back after a very short time- expressing that he can’t live without her, etc. She loves him and doesn’t want to desert him but she knows that she can be happy without him. However, she doesn’t know what to do. She is home for the summer and has suggested that he see a therapist (He is back at the university.). Should she continue communicating with him or is it better to stop?

A: Your daughter probably should not continue to communicate with him. However much he cares for her, he clearly has too many problems to be able to make a relationship with anyone. For now, he has some serious personal therapeutic work to do.

I’m sure there must be many sweet things about him if your daughter is drawn to him. But loving him may well mean taking the pressure of maintaining a relationship off of him. In my opinion, they haven’t invested enough time in this relationship for her to stick with it through so many breakups. Instead, I hope your daughter encourages him to get the treatment he needs.

Having told her this in the most loving way possible, you should probably then leave this alone. You can give your daughter our advice but she needs to come to her own conclusions. It’s hard to watch her hurt but sorting out what to do in such a situation is part of growing up. Have some faith that you raised a girl who has good sense.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Jun 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Daughter’s Boyfriend Needs Help. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/06/22/daughters-boyfriend-needs-help/