My university-age son met his girlfriend while studying in a European country. He had chosen to study abroad, and soon met this young woman.
They became very close, and he brought her home to meet us all several times over two years. They both seemed committed and always in contact; they Face-Timed regularly when they were apart.
School’s over for the year, and they’ve each gone to their respective homes to work before meeting up this summer. He just flew to see her, as planned, affording the travel from his hours of working as a labourer the past month.
Shortly after he arrived, she confessed that she was no longer interested in the relationship and dumped him.
Our whole family is devastated on his behalf. We all liked her, and enjoyed her visits when we entertained her at our home.
We wonder why she didn’t break up with him before he made that expensive trip instead of delivering the crushing news upon his arrival?
Without having insider information on his ex-girlfriend’s motive, it’s easy for everyone in your family to just be angry and hurt on your son’s behalf.
Yet this young woman may have done your son a favour. Perhaps she’s met someone else and became unsure of her feelings for him.
Or, she’s already sure that, while the university relationship was fun, he’s not the person she wants for the long-term.
Perhaps their backgrounds and upbringing differed more than she’d previously realized. Or their current values clashed. Also, her own parents would have had an opinion about this still-young relationship between two undergraduates living far apart.
Though he won’t see things that way right now, your son may be lucky that his ex-girlfriend dropped him.
The excitement of an early relationship at his young-adult age often clouds all other differences which can become problematic.
Right now, he needs support from his closest friends and deeply-caring family. He also needs to not openly badmouth her outside his protective circle.
He needs to work through his hurt feelings, and he may want to talk to a counsellor.
Give him time to recover his self-worth, so he can assess how best to move on from the hurt he’s still feeling.
I recently returned from taking my 15-year-old son and his friend on a ski trip out west. The skiing was fantastic and we all got along. But one aspect of the friend’s behaviour was concerning.
On several occasions, I found him eating food out of the garbage bins in the hotel restaurant.
We were eating three meals a day together and we had plenty of food in the room if he was still hungry, but it seemed like he preferred to eat from the trash.
I tried to explain that he’d make himself sick but I don’t think he took my warnings seriously. I don’t know if this behaviour was unique to our trip or something he does regularly.
Should I tell his parents about this matter? I don’t want to betray his confidence but I think, as a parent, I’d want to know.
Guest Eating Garbage
Yes, certainly tell his parents, and soon. There may be a private reason he didn’t want to reveal, such as filling himself up so that he didn’t impose too many costs on you to pay for his meals. (He may even have been warned by parents to be thoughtful about costs).
Be open but non-judgmental with his parents, as there may be other reasons for this odd behaviour, such as attention-getting or a weight-related eating disorder.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding 20-something men hit on by older women (April 28):
“I’m female, age 62. I was a child in the ‘60s, a teen in the ‘70s and a young woman in the ‘80s. It was an age of terrible sexism, sexual harassment and assaults, racism, misogyny and homophobia.
“However, I disagree with a reader's suggestion that since we were subjected to all of that horrible stuff, it somehow makes it OK for older women now to hit on young men, as if they caused our distress.
“It's not OK. I don't think that reader is OK, and hope she gets help.
“No one should be sexually harassing anyone of any age or gender. Unwanted sexual advances, touching, comments, etc. are just wrong.
“Our having been objectified doesn’t mean retribution against others is OK.
“Being a sexual harasser isn’t limited to one's age or gender. Rise above and be a decent human, regardless of your past experience.”
Tip of the day:
Be prepared to help your young adult through the possible heartbreak of a first relationship.