Have you noticed when you hold on too tightly to someone they tend to distance or pull away? This is a concept that many teen girls haven’t quite learned yet. This behavior is driven by fear. Fear of losing someone you don’t want to lose. Fear of being alone. Fear of not belonging. Fear of not feeling wanted.
I recently had a teen life coaching client, Mandy*, talk with me about how she noticed that she was holding on too tightly to her boyfriend. She came up with a brilliant analogy. She described it as if she were holding a string (their relationship) and he was holding the other end of the string and she kept pulling it toward her, making it very taut, so taut that it could break at any moment, breaking the connection between them. But if she loosened her grip on the string then the connection wouldn’t be broken, and they could both relax a bit but still be connected. She was working on trusting. Trusting that she didn’t have to hold on so hard to get someone she cared about to stay. Mandy has a history of friendships not working out – being disappointed that people weren’t who she thought they were, friends ending their friendship with her without clarity about why. Her reaction to on hold tightly was in response to old fear, old beliefs that everyone leaves.
So, this realization, that letting go a bit and trusting that she is enough, that people stay because they want to, that not everyone leaves, that she is enough and desirable as a friend and a girlfriend, feels good and is an important step in her relating to others.
Does your daughter tend to hold on too tightly to friendships/relationships? Share “the string” story with her and she was she says. Ask her if she is willing to loosen her grip, to let go of her fear a bit and enjoy the relationship for what it is in this moment.
There is no shortage of people who want to be friends with us, even when it looks like there is a big shortage. Our girls’ job is to go through their days feeling good about what they can feel good about and then allow and receive those moments of connection (a smile, an invitation being offered, etc.) with gratitude.
Remind her that she is strong. People will come and go in her life and she is capable of grieving and then picking herself back up. Remind her that you believe in her while she is learning to believe in herself.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy
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