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Is this normal? Teen boy not affectionate

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whensitover posted 1/3/2014 13:34 PM

My daughter is 17. She has dated the same boy for over four years. He is 18. They have never had sex with each other or anyone. I love this young man to pieces but I am concerned about something. In the four years I have known him as my daughter's boyfriend, I have seen him hold her hand one time and I have seen him kiss her one time (a peck) She does have a picture of them kissing. He is by far not a feminine guy, very outdoors and rugged, very handsome (grown women turn and look at him-very built-he is an avid cyclist) but I am just concerned about WHY he is NEVER affectionate to her. It is starting to take a toll on their relationship. My husband asked her if they ever 'just kiss' and she said "Only when I walk him outside to leave" Something just doesn't seem right to me here. He recently gave her a promise ring for her birthday in December. They are both graduating High School this year and talk about getting married but I am just not sure. I can tell her self esteem is taking a hit over all of this. I'm just wondering what could be the underlying factor here? My daughter is a beautiful girl, very self conscious of her looks and appearance but lately she doesn't seem to care much either, she seems depressed, after four years I thought I would have to worry about prying them apart but that's not it at all. She has asked him why he is like that but he just blows her off. My worry is that perhaps he has been molested as a child, or that he is gay. I truly don't see him as gay, but he could be, I'm not a good judge on that. I am so worried that my child is wasting all of her good years with someone who has major issues that could really hurt her in the long run. She could date anyone she wanted too, but she loves this boy very much. In the past four years, our families have bonded with each other and have become good friends. I thought about my husband talking to him but I don't want him to feel uncomfortable with us because he practically lives at our house and you just don't want to accuse someone of something your not 100% sure of. But it's very noticeable, I FOUR years, I've only seen them hold hands once??? Kiss once??

Undefinabl3 posted 1/3/2014 13:37 PM

when i was that young, showing any kind of affection to a boy I liked in front of my parents was beyond embarrassing....was never done.

I still dont get very PDA'y in front of my parents.

MovingUpward posted 1/3/2014 13:39 PM

She could date anyone she wanted too, but she loves this boy very much

Maybe understanding your DD's reasoning will paint a clearer picture of the situation. I don't think that something is automatically wrong in this. I suspect that physical touch is not his love language.

purplejacket4 posted 1/3/2014 13:40 PM

He is most likely either gay (about 10% of population) or asexual ( 1%). Either way it doesn't sound compatible with your daughter. At their age he may not realize these things himself. And she's pretty young and has lots of time ahead for her to date. She's going to need to gently confront him. BTW I'm boarded in adolescent medicine and a young man with NO apparent sex drive is not the norm.

[This message edited by purplejacket4 at 1:43 PM, January 3rd (Friday)]

Kalleigh posted 1/3/2014 13:42 PM

my husbands family are not affectionate at ALL, it was hard for my husband get used to hugging and kissing. Could this young mans family be the same way.

Williesmom posted 1/3/2014 13:46 PM

Talk to your daughter about it.

This topic is triggering me. My wxh was not demonstrative, while my family is very much so. He would rarely say "I love you". It was a huge point of contention in our relationship.

It has caused me to doubt myself in each relationship since the divorce.

Talk to her- he isn't going to magically get better.

whensitover posted 1/3/2014 14:27 PM

Thank you to ALL of you!! Every response is good and helpful!! As for his homelife-his daddy is pretty much the same way. His parents have been separated several times because his dad is like this. He was also brought up in a very protective household-he and his siblings were home schooled and his parents are somewhat......well I guess weird is the word. They have always been overly religious to the point of thinking everything is either satanic or spiritual. He wasn't allowed to watch certain TV shows because his parents thought they were "Of the devil" and such, so his upbringing is very different. They (my daughter and this boy) have actually broke up for about 3 hours and he was devastated. The only time he has ever shown any signs of affection...or caring...was at a wedding once when he had a couple of beers (his parents weren't there) and he almost seemed normal. That part worries me. I don't want him to have to rely on alcohol to function normally. Everyone's response was so helpful!!

[This message edited by whensitover at 2:28 PM, January 3rd (Friday)]

Newlease posted 1/3/2014 14:29 PM

Do not approach him. Just have a heart-to-heart with your daughter. Is this important to her? She is still very young and even though they have dated for 4 years, it doesn't mean the best years are behind her. Is she going to college? Maybe a break from each other is in order for her to explore what else is out there in the way of not only other boys, but her own development. At that age I had NO idea who I was or what I wanted.

Good luck.


whensitover posted 1/3/2014 14:32 PM

She and I have talked about it at length but not very deeply-I sense that she feels 'unwanted' and nobody likes to talk about something that makes them feel 'unwanted' or undesirable. She has told me that she doesn't desire to have sex with him, not at all, he has even confided to his friends that neither of them have been sexually intimate with each other, or no one for that matter (They were 14 and 13 when they started dating) and my daughter has expressed her desire to wait until marriage. She just wants to feel close to him in a girlfriend kind of way. My daughter is a pretty shy person also and has never been a pda person herself, but I believe this is working on her self esteem bigtime!

whensitover posted 1/3/2014 14:40 PM

Bless her heart, she is a hopeless romantic and the idea of marrying her highschool sweetheart has always been her goal. She has always felt so good about this relationship, and to be honest, when he was younger, he was a little more open with her, he was just a young kid and they had so much fun together-I almost wonder if the truth is that he doesn't want her but doesn't want anyone else to have her either. I think almost everything in the world has run through my mind at this point! Just so worried for her, and him too, but mostly for her! Yes she is going to college but not leaving our city, plans to go locally.

Dreamboat posted 1/3/2014 16:15 PM

Perhaps he was taught by his parents that sex is evil and so he does everything possible to avoid sexual thoughts. Which must be not only difficult but downright frustrating for a teenager with raging hormones.

Holly-Isis posted 1/3/2014 16:49 PM

My first thoughts were of a guy I know who didn't kiss his wife anywhere but her forehead until they got M. It was his religious beliefs. I know people who have taught their kids you don't even hold hands until you find your spouse.

This is a great time to work with your DD on how to communicate. If his religion is an issue when it comes to how his actions make her feel about herself, it will only get worse if they M. It needs to be dealt with before commitment. If they communicate, she might learn that he's trying to respect her. Or, worst case, that sex in all forms is giving in to fleshly desires. It will let her know what she's looking at living when she accepts a promise ring. He can learn how it makes her feel and what she expects and hopes for if they get M.

Working on honest, intimate communication skills now will prepare them for the future. Whether or not it includes each other.

[This message edited by Holly-Isis at 4:50 PM, January 3rd (Friday)]

hurtbs posted 1/3/2014 18:33 PM

There are a myriad of reasons:

Abuse survivor (common reaction, avoid physical connection)
Not publicly affectionate

The reality is, it's his issue to resolve and there isn't much to do about it. I suspect that like most teenage relationships, this one will end. Your daughter will learn what she does/doesn't need and move forward as a young woman. A lot of girls harbor(ed) fantasies of marrying their HS Sweetheart. The reality of those stats are not very good - small percentage do and that those do, rarely survive 10 years of marriage.

Adolescence is about growing and finding yourself - including who you are and what you need in romantic relationships. Heck, that continues well into your 20's... for me looks like my 30's.

[This message edited by hurtbs at 6:36 PM, January 3rd (Friday)]

jrc1963 posted 1/3/2014 21:37 PM

My first H didn't know how to be affectionate... Hugging him was like hugging a tree.

He was my HS sweetheart.

He came out after we'd been together 10 years.

persevere posted 1/4/2014 00:00 AM

What are her plans with regard to education after high school? College can change your view on your young life incredibly.

My DD was with her high school sweetheart until her junior year of college when he left her, which he later regretted, but she, fortunately, did not. She was hurt at first, but realized what a blessing it was. A lot of change can come in the upcoming years - they are so young.

Cally60 posted 1/4/2014 04:13 AM

She just wants to feel close to him in a girlfriend kind of way. My daughter is a pretty shy person also and has never been a pda person herself, but I believe this is working on her self esteem bigtime!

The promise ring and the "saving" of oneself until marriage are fairly normal in those with fundamentalist Christian beliefs, I think. And I suppose it is possible that his parents' rather more extreme religious views have convinced your daughter's boyfriend that any overt display of affection is inappropriate. But one's beliefs don't usually suppress desire. And I think that those who are suppressing their natural urges because of their beliefs often spend quite a lot of time talking about it. :-) In a way, the discussion of the suppression of desire becomes almost a substitute for its fulfillment.

But this doesn't seem to be the case for your daughter's boyfriend. It sounds as though there is almost no desire for physical contact. I think that this should indeed be a cause for concern. Yes, perhaps he is gay, has low libido, or little experience of, or need for, physical contact.

What matters, I think, is that it is not the same for your daughter. And, in my opinion, unless he changes, he will not make her happy long-term. I know, because, to a lesser extent, I have been there....

My first serious boyfriend had little need for physical affection. (His parents were totally undemonstrative.) We got on well in most respects and I had spent a very long time yearning for a boyfriend, so was afraid of being alone again and we stayed together for years. But I was almost always the one who initiated any physical contact and he used to mock me gently for clinging to him and so on. As a result, and because he was my first boyfriend, I thought that I was the one with the problem. That I was overly demanding of hugs, cuddles and so on. I was embarrassed by it and tried to suppress my urge to touch him affectionately. It was only later, after we'd split up, and I had other relationships, that I realized that my need for physical touch is actually perfectly normal and that my ex-boyfriend was the one with the problem. I know that he wasn't gay, but I'm not sure exactly what was wrong. What I do know, however, is that if I'd married him (as he wished me to) I would eventually have been very unhappy because I'd have spent my life trying to suppress what is, for most of us, a very natural need - that of physical affection outside the walls of the bedroom.

You said that your daughter's self esteem is being affected. I think that's because she is in the same position that I was. ie This boy has a great character, is very fond of her and she really, really likes him. But he doesn't need, or even want, to touch her. And because he is her first boyfriend, she doesn't realize that he has a problem. She thinks that SHE is the one with the problem - that her desire for physical contact without sex is excessive; maybe even that she is over-sexed or abnormal in some way herself; that she is not sexually appealing, or for some reason she is incapable of arousing desire in a man. And so on. :-(

I think your concerns over her diminishing self-esteem are very valid. Even though you are fond of this young man and his family, I would advise you to sit down with your daughter and explain gently to her that his almost total lack of physical demonstrativeness is extremely unusual and that it would probably cause problems for him in any long-term relationship. That women have a natural need for physical contact. So her willingness to stay in a relationship with this boy despite his apparent failure to meet that very natural need, as well as her more cerebral needs, shows great strength of character and is testament to the young man's sterling qualities in every other respect.

But I'd suggest that you then ask her whether she has any idea why her boyfriend makes no effort to touch her in even the most socially acceptable of ways. And unless she says that his parents or his religion forbid it, I'd repeat that for a boy to show virtually no physical signs of affection towards someone he cares about and is very obviously attracted to (especially when there are others who clearly would love to replace him :-)) is really exceptionally uncommon and rather worrying for you and your husband. And I'd ask your daughter whether she thinks that she could be happy if she had to suppress her own very natural need for physical affection indefinitely, since from what you and Dad have observed, this might be necessary if she and her boyfriend were to stay together long-term.

[This message edited by Cally60 at 4:24 AM, January 4th (Saturday)]

whensitover posted 1/16/2014 13:17 PM

Cally60-You hit the nail on the head on all points!! Recently, I woke up and went to turn the TV off in the livingroom and realized he was still there, they had fallen asleep on the couch, all snuggled up together and he had her all wrapped up in his arms, but I just don't know, maybe that was a one time thing. I am going to talk with her and at least try to get her to understand that she is taking a chance at wasting her young adult life on someone that may not ever be what she wants!

Emotionalhell posted 1/16/2014 17:49 PM

My XH was not affectionate when dated. I was 15 & he was 18.
Fast forward 7 years . After we had our first child he started showing signs of cross dressing . Years later in the marriage he was asking for hormones to make him girlie.:(

I'm not saying this boy will have these tendencies.
But I would be concerned ..

Be cautious how you approach the subject with your daughter.
My mother tried to keep us from dating & it only made me more determined to stay with him..

Skye posted 1/17/2014 07:13 AM

You mention that he also doesn't show "caring." That is very different than affection. I would worry about the lack of affection, but I would be very concerned that he doesn't show caring--that doesn't take public affection.

[This message edited by Skye at 7:13 AM, January 17th (Friday)]

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