I have a step father who has been taking care of my family and I since I was 9 (I’m 19 now). At first I didn’t like him bc him not being my real dad and all, but I slowly got used to him and even started calling him my dad. But in these recent years I feel as if I’m distancing myself away from him. I don’t feel 100% comfortable when it was just me and him in a room or whatnot. I used to be able to give him hugs but now I don’t hug him at all bc I don’t feel comfortable anymore. However, I hug other guys. And I am able to hug my school’s counselor(male) who is older than my stepdad by age. My mom feels upset and disappointed bc I feel comfortable hugging my school’s counselor who is a male and mature in age but ‘m not comfortable hugging my dad. I feel guilty bc my stepdad has helped my family a lot, he really sees me as his own daughter and he does truly love me but I just can’t find the love in my heart to give him…I feel as if I’m a very ungrateful child. Please help asap.

A: At 19 this is a natural progression. Once you have the capacity for emotional and physical intimacy there is a natural distancing from the opposite-sex parent. I wouldn’t make too much of this — know that distancing is natural as you get ready to look for a relationship. You don’t have to feel bad or make excuses for becoming a young woman.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral