Intimacy should come after friendship


May 22, 1994|By SUSAN DIETZ | SUSAN DIETZ,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: I read with interest a letter from a 15-year-old young lady referring to your advice not to become intimate with someone without insisting on all phases of love. It made her wonder how well she knew her boyfriend and caused her to decide to wait before becoming intimately involved with him.

I'm sorry I missed that column and wonder if you would again share that advice. I have a 19-year-old daughter who has had three serious boyfriends, each lasting about eight months. I'm wondering about the young men who are attracted to her and what causes things to clash so badly after they have spent months of dating. What always seems to happen is that they become too "in love" with her and self-doubting, fearing they will lose her, becoming (I think) too emotionally dependent on her. Or, they become way too possessive, smothering her with their attentions/wishes for her attention, jealous of the time she spends with all of her other interests.

She tries to work this out because she cares about them, but ends breaking up because she can't stand the pressure from them.

At this point, she says she won't have any more boyfriends because "they're too much work," even though she enjoys sharing closeness and having someone in her life.

I feel she's too young to be involved to the point of making future plans with anyone in particular, but I hope there are better choices to be made in the future.

A: My recent column focused on developing a mutual liking that permeates every action and thought relating to the love relationship. When genuine liking is the basis of love, sexual sharing becomes the metaphor for spiritual union. My sense of your daughter is that she seems to know this instinctively and is reaching out for a healthy relationship rather than a distortion founded on dependency and need.

Guide her, look in on her life often, but let her come to her own insights. She is fortunate to have such interested and balanced parents.

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