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My teenage daughter suddenly won't say "I love you."


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Old 21st May 2018, 9:33 PM   #1
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My teenage daughter suddenly won't say "I love you."

She's 17 and awkwardly informed me tonight (after I said, "love you!") that she just doesn't feel comfortable saying "I love you." To anyone. She said, "I mean, I'll SHOW you I love you....but don't be offended if I don't say it. I don't say it to my friends either when they say it." I was like, "Um, ok....that's fine....but this is new....you used to have no problem saying that...." She's a very affectionate girl and loves hugs.

What gives?

She has her first serious boyfriend. I've asked her a few times (not recently) if they've said "I love you" and she said no, she's scared. She said he "wants to" but she hasn't felt comfortable. Also, he's a senior going off to college and she's a junior and she's very stressed about that.

Any ideas? I feel like maybe she's making this universal "declaration" that she doesn't say "I love you" to be able to justify to him why she won't say it maybe? I'm at a loss here because we've always been very verbal with our affection and this seems to have come out of the blue.
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Old 21st May 2018, 10:16 PM   #2
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Hi CO

Is this the daughter that is on the spectrum? I'm sorry if I'm way off, I just seem to recall you posting that before?

If so, this is totally normal and I can very much relate (if not, feel free to ignore the following 'explanation'!):

The only 2 people I feel I can say those words to unreservedly and unconditionally without it causing a meltdown or a freakout are my children. I struggle to say that to anyone else, partly because I find it extremely cringe-inducing, and party because I prefer to show it in action, partly because I don't want to cheapen it (all very convoluted, but this is how aspies do it!).

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Old 21st May 2018, 10:29 PM   #3
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I think it’s just a phase she’s going through. I went through lots of phases during my teens. I wouldn’t worry too much about this.
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Old 22nd May 2018, 5:38 AM   #4
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can you ask her what the word means to her, what does it entail??

otherwise, not to be a downer, but around here since our friend, a beautiful young mother, was killed instantly in a car crash, we are very mindful of letting others know how we feel, esp. when we part company. it could be the last thing we say to a loved one.
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Old 22nd May 2018, 7:10 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by littleblackheart View Post
Hi CO

Is this the daughter that is on the spectrum? I'm sorry if I'm way off, I just seem to recall you posting that before?

If so, this is totally normal and I can very much relate (if not, feel free to ignore the following 'explanation'!):

The only 2 people I feel I can say those words to unreservedly and unconditionally without it causing a meltdown or a freakout are my children. I struggle to say that to anyone else, partly because I find it extremely cringe-inducing, and party because I prefer to show it in action, partly because I don't want to cheapen it (all very convoluted, but this is how aspies do it!).
No, she isn't on the spectrum (that we know of), but she has an anxiety disorder, sensory issues, math disability and mild ADD. Maybe that's what you're thinking of. Thanks for your thoughts!
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Old 22nd May 2018, 10:15 AM   #6
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I wouldn't worry too much about it, as long as she's doing okay in other aspects of her life.
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Old 22nd May 2018, 12:15 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by CautiouslyOptimistic View Post
No, she isn't on the spectrum (that we know of), but she has an anxiety disorder, sensory issues, math disability and mild ADD. Maybe that's what you're thinking of. Thanks for your thoughts!
Yes, that's what I was thinking of! Whether a phase or not (it may well last, we are all wired differently, sometimes people feel compelled to 'grow out of it' to conform, which does more harm than good long term imo) the main thing is not to take it to heart too much.
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Old 22nd May 2018, 12:34 PM   #8
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this is normal behavior for a teenager
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Old 22nd May 2018, 3:42 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by CautiouslyOptimistic View Post
She's 17 and awkwardly informed me tonight (after I said, "love you!") that she just doesn't feel comfortable saying "I love you." To anyone. She said, "I mean, I'll SHOW you I love you....but don't be offended if I don't say it. I don't say it to my friends either when they say it." I was like, "Um, ok....that's fine....but this is new....you used to have no problem saying that...." She's a very affectionate girl and loves hugs.

What gives?

She has her first serious boyfriend. I've asked her a few times (not recently) if they've said "I love you" and she said no, she's scared. She said he "wants to" but she hasn't felt comfortable. Also, he's a senior going off to college and she's a junior and she's very stressed about that.

Any ideas? I feel like maybe she's making this universal "declaration" that she doesn't say "I love you" to be able to justify to him why she won't say it maybe? I'm at a loss here because we've always been very verbal with our affection and this seems to have come out of the blue.
My first thought is to give her time. Even in a parenting relationship, you can't force yourself into someone's life. If she is showing love, that's a good thing. At the risk of sounding cliche, this definitely sounds like a possible phase.
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Old 22nd May 2018, 4:46 PM   #10
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Your daughter is growing up and realizing that those words actually mean something and aren't just something you've been conditioned to parrot back to your mother. This isn't anything you should challenge. Most 17-year-olds wish their parents would just dissolve, leaving behind their debit card. Be glad she's putting on some brakes with the boyfriend. If I were you, I'd tell her, You don't have to say "I love you" to anyone just to be saying it. Save it for when it's special. And that she's right that it's more important to show than to say it.
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Old 22nd May 2018, 4:50 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by preraph View Post
Your daughter is growing up and realizing that those words actually mean something and aren't just something you've been conditioned to parrot back to your mother. This isn't anything you should challenge. Most 17-year-olds wish their parents would just dissolve, leaving behind their debit card. Be glad she's putting on some brakes with the boyfriend. If I were you, I'd tell her, You don't have to say "I love you" to anyone just to be saying it. Save it for when it's special. And that she's right that it's more important to show than to say it.
Great advice, thank you .
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Old 26th May 2018, 9:10 PM   #12
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Preraf nailed it ...

Could be a phase ... one of those teenage things ... when they decide they want to be authentic and the entire rest of the world of course is unauthentic ...

Allowing her room to have her view ... gives her a lot of freedom ... And she's allowing you to say "I love you" to her, right?

She also could genuinely be feeling pressure to be kind and nice to everyone ... and she is feeling tired of that pressure ... but just can't fully articulate this ...

Not some disaster at all ... especially since she doesn't reject your love. If you're worried about her feelings towards you, you can also tell her gently that if she is unhappy with something about your relationship with her, that you would like her to tell you.
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Old 27th May 2018, 12:20 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Lotsgoingon View Post
Preraf nailed it ...

Could be a phase ... one of those teenage things ... when they decide they want to be authentic and the entire rest of the world of course is unauthentic ...

Allowing her room to have her view ... gives her a lot of freedom ... And she's allowing you to say "I love you" to her, right?

She also could genuinely be feeling pressure to be kind and nice to everyone ... and she is feeling tired of that pressure ... but just can't fully articulate this ...

Not some disaster at all ... especially since she doesn't reject your love. If you're worried about her feelings towards you, you can also tell her gently that if she is unhappy with something about your relationship with her, that you would like her to tell you.
Thank you . Yes, she allows me to say I love you and I'm not worried at all about her feelings toward me. I'm only worried about this sudden shift in her mindset/resolve, but I will respect it and her for at least voicing it to me. I'm super glad that she's very open to hugs, and that she loves giving and receiving them .
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Old 28th May 2018, 6:12 PM   #14
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No, she isn't on the spectrum (that we know of), but she has an anxiety disorder, sensory issues, math disability and mild ADD. Maybe that's what you're thinking of. Thanks for your thoughts!
I have a son who has an Asperger's diagnosis. Asperger's used to be 'on the spectrum' but the doctors who make the roolz change things. It may still be. I don't keep track any more. Sensory issues? Check. Mild ADD? That was my son's previous diagnosis. Asperger's was a PitA to diagnose twenty years ago. Had to get a neuropsychological evaluation done by a PhD psychologist and then have a physician review the written report of the neuropsych and document the diagnosis. It may mean nothing or having an accurate diagnosis may be helpful getting the 'right' therapies and services. Just sayin'

Aside from that, I agree with others that any teen may go through phases where they are reluctant to say 'I love you'. Double on a young 'lady' dealing with her first serious romantic feelings.
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Old 28th May 2018, 6:53 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by nospam99 View Post
I have a son who has an Asperger's diagnosis. Asperger's used to be 'on the spectrum' but the doctors who make the roolz change things. It may still be. I don't keep track any more. Sensory issues? Check. Mild ADD? That was my son's previous diagnosis. Asperger's was a PitA to diagnose twenty years ago. Had to get a neuropsychological evaluation done by a PhD psychologist and then have a physician review the written report of the neuropsych and document the diagnosis. It may mean nothing or having an accurate diagnosis may be helpful getting the 'right' therapies and services. Just sayin'

Aside from that, I agree with others that any teen may go through phases where they are reluctant to say 'I love you'. Double on a young 'lady' dealing with her first serious romantic feelings.
She definitely checks some of the boxes. Not as much now as when she was little, though. One of my BFFs is a psychiatric social worker and we had lots of talks about that. She thought she probably was on the spectrum (and thought Asperger's, which, yes, I don't think is technically on the spectrum anymore). She's outgrown a lot of those quirky behaviors, though, and she's extremely empathetic and aware of other people's emotions, which is why I've always backed off on that dx. It also didn't come up in her psychiatric evaluation when she was diagnosed with ADD and anxiety. My cousin has Asperger's and she is absolutely nothing like him (he was a major behavior problem as a child and still can be very rude as an adult), so perhaps my measuring stick is a bit off.
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