Dating as a teen is a hectic time. As teens experience their first relationships, they undergo many ups and downs. From feeling in love to deeply devastated. Young love is passionate and charming, occasionally bringing new sides to people.
If your son is currently dating, he may be experiencing a wave of emotions, making it easy to feel head-over-heels in love. And although it’s natural to be happy and in love, being obsessed is another situation altogether. What happens when your son is obsessed with his girlfriend? Where do you start? How do you help him? Let’s dig deeper.
How To Deal With A Son Obsessed With His Girlfriend
Establish Fair But Firm Boundaries
The first thing to do here is to set up some ground rules. That’s because too much freedom could have led to his current situation.
Start by limiting unsupervised contact between your son and his girlfriend. Try as much as possible to be a part of their time together. Stick somewhere close but not invasively so. This way, you can observe and contextualize your son’s behavior.
The best way to do so is to invite them to spend time in your home when your or your partner is present. Or letting them spend time at the girlfriend’s home, provided the parents are present.
Alternatively, you can set a rule but grant them a concession tied to it. For instance, your son wants to bring his girlfriend on a dinner date. You can set a term insisting on going with, but give a concession by offering to pay for their meal, making it a give-and-take dynamic situation.
Whatever you do, ensure you make them feel loved and that you’re open to the idea.
Watch For Extreme Behavior Changes
Some new changes in light of their love life are okay. However, some behavioral changes may be a sign of deeper underlying issues. Watch out for signs like:
- Your son acting out of character in any significant way. Check if your son is altering his personality to suit his girlfriend’s preference.
- Your son showing co-dependent characteristics. Excessive calls and check-ins can display this.
- Your son disregards his needs and/or responsibilities. Note if their academic, chores, and extracurricular activities are affected in any significant way.
Once you note the behavior changes, it’s good to point them out. When doing so, try and be objective. Although you’re worried about your son’s emotional well-being, avoid confirmation bias. And remember, you’re doing this to showcase an urgent problem, not sabotage their relationship.
Don’t be quick to point out observations until you establish a few emerging patterns. Bringing a few behavior changes to your son’s attention may make him not take them seriously.
Remember, you’re trying to convince your child, not chastise him. So, focus on building a case highlighting specific issues that need to be addressed. Be objective and focus on irrefutable facts to back your arguments instead of personal judgments or warnings.
Don’t Be Too Critical
The rule for boundaries also extends to your opinions. Avoid coming out as too negatively biased. Or, your son won’t take you seriously.
Open dislike can make your son feel trying to win your support is a waste of time, locking you out of the loop. And even if your son’s obsessive behavior is terrible, there have to be some positive impacts brought by the relationship.
So, show support for good behaviors worth supporting. For instance, your child calling to check on their girlfriend’s well-being is an act worth praising, provided it’s not to an unhealthy extent.
Acknowledge the positive changes the relationship brought to make your inputs more credible in their eyes. You want your son to value your input, and too many negative vibes will sour it. This can make your words come out as prejudiced and unwanted.
Establish Your Son’s Relationship Expectations
The best way to understand your son’s obsession maybe by asking him. Where does he draw his reference points for pacing in the relationship? Most of this probably is from your marriage. Your son saw you and your partner settled into this typical dynamic. He doesn’t know all the buildup and courting that led to it.
Ask your son about their reference frame. Where does he learn how to navigate through his relationship?
Note that it’s a big red flag if your son says his girlfriend provides the most direction in the relationship. That case may need other family members and friends to handle.
Let your son share their whole story with you. Establish a rapport with him and share your experiences with romance. Don’t advise him on anything unless when asked for. Instead, tell him your relationship dynamics or other healthy relationships you both know.
Introduce the concept and urge your son to consider the possibility of improving his relationship. Don’t tell him bluntly where his doing things wrong. He may act defensively. Instead, give him examples of relationships with failings, then let him evaluate his relationship at his own pace.
Remind Him He Needs To Love Himself
Relationships are about two people sharing their lives. It involves two futures being shared, not one. So, personal ambitions should not be disregarded.
Your son’s obsession with the girlfriend might cause him to feel like his life revolves around her. Remind him that he needs to have something worth celebrating and sharing.
Including his girlfriend in his future plans is okay. But don’t let him think she’s his future. It’s easy for people to lose focus on their goals, even in stable relationships. So, just push him a little to help him get back on track.
Your son’s obsession with his girlfriend is not something to take lightly. And although you may see it as an obsession, that’s not what your son sees it. So, avoid bringing the subject head-on when addressing it.
Try your best to modify behavior that could enable this problem. Point out bad precedents, establish fair but firm boundaries, get to know your son’s relationship expectations and don’t be too critical. Lastly, remind him to value his future to ensure he has something worth sharing.