He was looking for someone to love and validate his feelings. She was looking for someone to just love her. That first conversation did them in. Everything that was said and not said between them made sense. They couldn’t live without each other. It was as if it were fate that brought them together. Or was it?
You hear it on the news, another couple of teenage lover runaways. All they wanted was to live their life and make themselves complete. They talked of marriage, family, careers, their strict parents, their friends that didn’t understand, and a society against them…. all because they loved each other.
As a parent, it can seem overwhelmingly disconcerting when your teenager confesses to a love so strong that they can’t see themselves happy without the other person or make decisions without them. Their rationalization to continue living for each other outweighs the seriousness of their relationship when it is tied up with addictive behavior that any normal person can see.
The constant texting, the long phone conversations and the neediness of each other without boundaries is something every parent should be concerned about. We are not talking about puppy love anymore. This is a Romeo and Juliet love that will lead to disaster.
Their dependence on each other can be a strong force for very different reasons. This isn’t so much of a sexual love that they are looking to fulfill but more of an emotional love that they think they need. Usually one of them is a risk taker and can be involved in criminal or dangerous activity or have mental disorder issues that can trigger depression and suicidal tendencies.
The other person feels their own needs being achieved because they are helping satisfy the emotional need of the one they love. One or both could have come from very dysfunctional backgrounds that caused their more obsessive behavior or they could have experienced a great hurt in their life.
There is also a lot of manipulation of the heart going on as well. With constant threats of ripping apart this couple, they are left to do the unthinkable which is to be extreme in getting what they want. Here are a few examples of what I am saying.
In Michigan, Jayden Thomas, 13, and Braxton Wood, 14, had a six-month relationship considered “too serious” because they could not live without each other. Jayden’s mother told her daughter the day she ran away that she didn’t support their relationship. So they ran off with little money and living in a car. After being returned to their home, a judge ordered them to have no contact and to wear GPS devices to keep them apart.
Jackson Powell, 18, and Nicole Dones, 17, went missing from Miami when their parents felt that their studies were being affected and Jackson got in trouble with the law after the loss of his brother. They couldn’t handle being apart and would spend every moment with each other, even at the cost of their education.
The most infamous couple of addictive behavior is that of Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber. Even though at this moment they are not together, they are still very emotionally connected and are manipulating each other through their choices and attention getting behavior. They both have issues that need to be dealt with individually and if those areas are not resolved, this pattern of addictive love will continue throughout their adulthood no matter who they will end up with.
Justin Bieber has proven my point with his risky and impulsive decisions along with outlandish and extreme lengths he has gone to get Selena back. And obviously it has worked over and over again. If you think that our teens (even from a good upbringing and having moral values) are not affected or exposed to this, think again.
I have seen with my own eyes how teens who had several normal relationships, jump overboard in love to the point of addiction, going against all parental and pastoral advice to get what they want.
What it comes down to is that they have no idea what real love is and are riding on the roller-coaster of emotional, physical and mental upheaval that dictates how the end will be.
So, what must a parent do to prevent this from happening in the first place? Like all teenagers, they want to date, have fun and of course, want to experience that first boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.
You MUST set boundaries from the very beginning of what is acceptable and what is not. That goes for the texting, phone use, time together. Group outings are great and less stressful as well as least likely to develop any kind of strong tie to each other. But when they hit that 16-17 age, the rules can change according to what the parties all agree on.
You also know your teen better than anyone else and what would be okay and not okay. But if you are not sure, seek out some parents who have raised their teens already and what they have learned from their positive experiences and their mistakes.
Sit down and have a frank discussion with your teen about what real love is. With this age group, much of their emotional make-up is brought on by hormonal changes and feelings. They think first with their body and then their brain. Keep doors of communication open at all times and don’t be afraid to talk about the different kinds of love – marital, physical, spiritual, family, etc… They need to know the difference and what to look out for that is not good for them.
Most importantly, pray for your teens. During this pivotal age, they need our support but also our spiritual and Godly guidance.