Your teen daughter comes home and says she has a crush on the most popular boy in eighth grade. She texts him and anxiously wonders if he will text her back. She is already contemplating what to buy him for his birthday, too.
Andy McGarrahan, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at Children’s, says these crushes can come and go quickly, like the latest fashion craze. “When they do not pass and your teen becomes overly focused on the crush, this might be a problem,” says Dr. McGarrahan.
Signs your teen’s romance has gone from crush to obsession
- She cannot think about much else to the detriment of other things (school, family life,friendships, sports).
- She spends an inordinate amount of time devoted to her crush.
- She can’t separate reality from fantasy.
If you notice these signs, approach your teen with your specific concerns while paying attention to facilitating a conversation instead of coming across as judgmental. Do not let it be just another situation that your teen can say, ‘You do not understand,’” advises Dr. McGarrahan.
It’s important you do this because dating abuse — either physical or emotional — can set in with an obsession. Cuts and bruises suggest physical abuse but emotional abuse is not so easily recognized.
If you suspect emotional abuse, ask yourself these questions
- Is my daughter herself?
- Does she defer to the boyfriend most of the time?
- Does she seem overly focused on pleasing the boyfriend at the expense of her own needs?
- Does she seem happy when with the boyfriend?
- Does she have a life outside of the boyfriend?
Crushes don’t just happen to teenage girls
Your five-year-old just whispered to you that he has a crush on a girl in class. It’s puppy love! But be careful how you handle his confession. Creating trust now can make a big difference during adolescence and beyond. If he tells you about his feelings, he’s probably ready to talk about them.
- Be a good listener and stay open-minded.
- Help him identify the qualities he admires in the other person.
- Always ask permission before you share his special news with other members of the family, and don’t tease him about his crush. Show him he can trust you with his secrets.
Has your child experienced a crush? Leave us a comment to tell us about how you talked to him or her about it.