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Ask a Professional: How help son who won't move on from crush

Ask a Professional: How help son who won't move on from crush

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Linda-ROPro

Ask a Professional: How help son who won't move on from crush

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My 16 yr old son met a girl 5 months ago. They talked for a few weeks...first girl he paid attention to. then she got mad at him for something stupid and they didn't talk for a while. His good friend then asked her out and are now dating. My son now says he liked her. So for months he has gone through every emotion - anger, crying, sitting in dark for hours, then seems ok...now he just asks 7 times a day...do you think they will make it? Depending on the answer depends on his mood thereafter. I've gone on walks, tried to be nice, empathetic, then told him to move on, all of it. I'm tired of the whole thing. How can I get him to let go of this girl who, again, has a boyfriend. I understand crushes but to be affected for months seems unhealthy. Advice is appreciated!
DadNeedsHelp

Hi @DadNeedsHelp 

No wonder you are feeling tired after providing support and trying to help your son move on for several months.

First crushes and first relationships can feel really intense, and experiencing anger, distress, crying, and seeking reassurance are all pretty common, but you’re right that it is unusual for this to continue to affect someone so strongly for so long, and it sounds like it’s really impacting your son’s life overall.

Often, when people experience a romantic disappointment (such as a break-up or unrequited crush), with a bit of time they can begin to feel better without any professional help. It sounds like you’ve also really tried to be there and be supportive during this time, which is often helpful when someone is going through a tough time.

Occasionally, someone can get a bit ‘stuck’ and instead of things getting better over time as they usually would, the person keeps feeling distressed and like they can’t move on or accept that the relationship has ended (or that the person they are interested in is with someone else). Sometimes an upsetting event like this can also act as a catalyst for other worries or concerns that your son may be dealing with.

You mention that your son repeatedly asks you about whether the relationship between his friend and the girl he has a crush on will last. It must be frustrating to be repeatedly asked the same question (especially one which you cannot have a definite answer to). Asking for reassurance like this is a common reaction when someone is dealing with an uncertain situation, and is finding this uncertainty difficult to deal with. In cases like this, providing too much reassurance can actually be unhelpful, because it encourages the person to keep asking (which keeps them in the loop of feeling worried, asking for reassurance and feeling better temporarily, then asking for reassurance again). Often, it’s more helpful to provide a brief, truthful response (that you don’t know), and re-direct the conversation.

Itt’s important that this is done in a caring way - for instance, letting your son know that this is how you’ll be answering from now on, because it seems that the repeated questions haven’t been helpful for him.

I’d also encourage you to explore the idea of professional support with your son. A counsellor or psychologist could help him sort through his thoughts and feelings, help him identify what is keeping him from being able to move forward, and work with him on strategies to deal with his emotions. Usually an issue like this would only require short term support. Your GP should be able to help you find someone local.

If he doesn’t want to see someone face to face, calling a helpline could also be a good option for your son - Kids Helpline can provide support via phone or chat, or he could even try ReachOut’s online forums, which would allow him to communicate with peers, some of whom will have gone through something similar (he might feel that people close to his age will understand him better).

Best wishes,
Linda

 

Linda is a psychologist experienced in working with people across the lifespan, including teenagers and their families, in a variety of settings, and is ReachOut's Clinical Lead.

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