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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5838
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I am concerned about a situation my 19 year old daughter is

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I am concerned about a situation my 19 year old daughter is having. For the past six months she dated a 17 year old boy. They had a long distance relationship (100 mi), but often saw each other on the weekends. They had a very good relationship and a lot of fun together. I know he never abused her in any way. They were talking about getting married once they both got through college.
Now she is in college, living in the same town as he does. However, he has decided they should take a break with their relationship. She is heart broke and depressed now. They both have decided not to date during this break. He tells her not to stay at home or be depressed because maybe someday they will be back together. He tells her not to talk to any guys if she does go out and he won't talk to any girls during their break. A few days ago she started on anti-depressant meds because she was crying a lot and unable to eat, etc. From things shes told me he also sounds depressed.
What I can't understand is how sweet and nice he was to her and now he sends her mean text messages at times and checks up on her. Which only makes her more confused. She wants him back and says she loves him, but she's having trouble understanding this. I've told her to cut off all contact and ignore him, but she's afraid that will make him mad and then she will never have a chance to get back together with him. Can you offer some feedback?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

It sounds like your daughter's boyfriend is at the least emotionally abusive. I know you mentioned that you did not feel he was abusive to her, but from your description, his behavior indicates that he is manipulative and controlling.

Abusive relationships can happen to anyone. Most abusers are very charming and easily disarm most people. Unless you are looking for it, you usually don't see it, even the person in the relationship. And it sounds like that is what happened to your daughter.

Your daughter's boyfriend is playing a game with her. He is trying to see if he can control her. No one "takes a break" from a relationship then proceeds to tell their partner what they can and cannot do. His mean texts and checking up on her is also an indication that he is trying to control her. If he truly needed a break, he would give her space and if he contacted her, he would be nice to her. He would also be concerned with how she is reacting to the "break". If she is upset enough to be on medication, then he should be worried about that. Not about who she is with and where she is.

The best thing your daughter can do is end the relationship. It is very painful, but it also gives her some control over her own feelings. She can mourn the relationship and move on. You can help her by learning more about abusive relationships and ways she can identify what is happening and how to get out. Here are some resources to help:

The Emotionally Destructive Relationship: Seeing It, Stopping It, Surviving It by Leslie Vernick

The Emotionally Abused Woman : Overcoming Destructive Patterns and Reclaiming Yourself by Beverly Engel

You can find these books on or your local library may have them for you.

I hope this has helped you and your daughter,

Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

I haven't heard from you. Did you have more questions or want clarification?


TherapistMarryAnn and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I just want to discuss it with her this weekend and get back to you if I need to. I will accept on Monday
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

You can accept and still ask questions after the accept. Many customers choose to do it that way. And I want to be sure you feel your question has been answered.

I am not reimbursed for my work unless you accept.

Thank you,