Sex and the city: My daughter’s relationships have ended badly as she is not psychologically mature

My daughter is a slow learner and has had academic challenges. She is also slow to mature in the way she relates to her peers. She has been quick to trust and does a lot of self-disclosure which has been to her detriment. She also seeks peer acceptance as she was always anxious as a child due to her isolation as she was the different one in class. This has made her dive head first into boy-girl relationships because of her biological maturity. This has obviously ended badly with many boys as she is not psychologically mature. How do I help her as she is repeatedly heartbroken and can’t see that she is not mature for relationships as yet?

To be a slow learner and to be emotionally mature are two very different things. There is no doubt that you probably know your daughter better than most people but you must open up to the idea that just because someone is ‘quick to trust’ other people, it doesn’t signify that she will always need to be protected or managed in some manner.

While she may have made decisions that have led to heartbreak, all that information can be seen as a part of her informational repertoire so that she can be helped with great empathy and sensitivity to learn from her mistakes and perhaps even accept her follies that may be played a contributing role in the relationships not working out.

To seek peer acceptance is part of the process of growing up. It means that a person is seeking to carve out his or her identity that need not necessarily be an extension of the ‘family name’ or ‘cultural ideas’ that they were subjected to. Boy-girl relationships are usually at the outset a result of biological maturity but are also catalysed by a need for friendship, companionship, sexual release, peer approval and a need to seek out one’s unique destiny with a like-minded other.

It is important to further investigate the ‘reasons’ for her respective breakups since no two relationships ever feel or look the same despite the fact that many people tend to bring their baggage and individual weaknesses to newer relationships based on what they feel ‘worked’ or ‘didn’t quite work’ in their previous relationships. Relationships and dating are a largely iterative mingling process where people seek to single out (through the process of elimination) who is, in fact, best suited to meet their personal needs and agendas. Romance is as much a process of auditioning as it is a process of auditing.

Heartbreak is viewed poorly as it brings with it pain, humiliation and a sense of futility that may sometimes be exacerbated by a loss in confidence. Yet, it’s important to understand that this is not the complete picture. Heartbreak is also a great provoker of self-introspection even though the insights that are unravelled in the process may make for a bitter pill to swallow. There can be no growth without decay and no change without the pain of at least some resistance.

Life’s many nooks house the evils of avarice, power hungriness, sadism and lies. The solution to be ultimately pain free may seem like the sum total of infinite possible dice rolls and yet despite this element of ‘chance’ in what we as people ‘chance upon’, best practices and strategies can be devised and expectations can be managed so that one is not a victim of predatory individuals due to one’s own gullibility and need for approval. This is where she will need some help. We seek from people what we feel should be ‘duly given’ to us. What do you think your daughter yearns for from these men? Does she feel neglected at home? Did she feel socially neglected due to her academic challenges?

Your daughter’s search for a sense of ‘completion’ through her relationships is natural but she also needs to be made aware of the many tricks that people could play with her feelings to get her to concede her emotions and time.

Possibly, you may not be the best person to impart all this information to your daughter at this stage. There is an over familiarity that families usually, share – due to which family members commonly take each other’s presence and counsel for granted. Third party intervention may help add heft to your case.

Your daughter would be benefited greatly from a visit to a relationship counsellor so that she is educated about the values that she injects into her relationships and whether her expectations from men, love, family, society and the world, in general, are realistic or whether she has been harbouring an irrational few of the world as a ‘nice’ or ‘fair’ place.

We live in the age of the internet where the access to information is as endless as the efforts put in by the person seeking out said information. It is not your decision to curate romances in your daughter’s life. That is something she is going to have to learn to do for herself as an adjusted and responsible adult. As a mother, you certainly wish for her to make ‘optimal choices’ but I feel like as an adult she should be given the freedom and the accurate information that supports her choices.