Teen Talk: High schooler doesn't want to follow mom's dating footsteps

02/28/2012 12:00 AM

02/28/2012 10:16 AM

DEAR KELLY: Something recently happened that's really bothering me, and I don't know what to do.

My parents divorced when I was in seventh grade, and now I'm a junior. My mom started dating a few months after the divorce and always seems to have a boyfriend. One guy lived with us briefly because they went out for over a year, but most of the guys last a few months.

I've known most of my friends since middle school and some even from elementary. So they know my mom pretty well and are used to seeing her with a different guy all the time. People ask me all the time why my mom isn't remarried and why she struggles to hold down a relationship. I just say she doesn't want to get remarried because my dad burned her so bad when he left her for someone else.

But, honestly, I ask myself the same question.

In the past three years I have had two really serious boyfriends (both lasting over a year) and about three semi-boyfriends that last only a few weeks or months.

Recently, my really good friend said something that really upset me.

"You're just like your mom; you always have to have a boyfriend. You don't know how to be alone," she said.

I was pretty stunned. When I asked around my group of friends, everyone said they feel the same way.

I was upset at first, but now I'm more scared and bothered. I don't want to always need a man and go from guy to guy, never finding the right guy to make me happy. I see my mom so upset each time she breaks up, but then she moves on to another guy. I don't want to be like that.

How do I not become like my mom when I've been raised by her and live with her? Just because my mom always has to have a boyfriend, does that mean I will turn out the same?

– Desperate Daughter

DEAR DESPERATE: Awareness can be a huge part of change. If we become aware of something that is important, we can be conscious of how we are living our life and the choices we are making.

When we are aware of our habits, we can change them and free ourselves of the things in our lives we don't like.

Awareness of your choices can give you more self control.

Your friend's comment hit a nerve and forced you to look at the role boys play in your life. Perhaps, without knowing it, you were jumping from boy to boy and following a similar pattern to that of your mom.

Now that you are aware, perhaps you will slow down on the dating thing and spend some time being single. Maybe some self evaluation is needed and you can see this as an "aha moment" in your life.

It sounds like your mom was hurt by your dad. People often respond to being hurt by putting up defenses to protect themselves. Maybe your mom is doing this. Maybe she hasn't met the right person to settle down with or maybe she wants to get you through high school before she jumps into another serious relationship.

Whatever her reason, you should avoid judging her.

If she's been a good mom and taken good care of you, back off and stop being so critical of her. Learn from her.

Have you talked with your mom and shared your concerns about not wanting to be the girl who doesn't know how to be without a boyfriend?

Usually that girl is insecure and needs a boyfriend to make her feel important and special. Is that you? Do you move on quickly because the idea of being alone is too scary and you lack the confidence to be single? Are you needy or unhappy without a boyfriend?

Perhaps by talking with your mom, you can learn more about yourself (and her) and change future choices regarding relationships.

If you aren't in any relationship now, see this as your time for personal growth. Commit to being single for six months. Examine the relationship you have with your dad. Work on developing friendships with guys. Hang out with your girlfriends.

Become an independent woman who is confident and self-assured. Being single can give you time to discover who you are and give you a chance to become the person you want to be.

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