Dating advice for my teenage son

My son has his first girlfriend and anytime I try to offer advice, he tells me I don’t understand how relationships work now.

I am experienced in love and life… but maybe my son is right.

The teen dating world today is not the same teen dating world I grew up in. The “terms” of relationships are foreign to me. Is texting someone all day enough to qualify as being in a relationship? Does hanging out together a lot mean you’re “together”?

What’s a teen relationship?

Last summer, my son and his girlfriend were inseparable. He told me she wasn’t his “official” girlfriend.

“But you guys are together all the time,” I said. “Doesn’t that make her your girlfriend?”

“No it does not,” he said as if I was crazy for asking.

One day, my son told me he finally was going to make their relationship official. “Okay,” I answered, completely unsure of what that actually entailed.

My son explained to me that a teen relationship becomes official when you both agree you are boyfriend/girlfriend and post pictures of yourselves as a couple on social media. Ok, I admit I had no idea about that rule.

Before he went back to college, my son dropped his friends to spend all his time with his new girlfriend. When I tried to impart my wisdom on why this was a bad idea, he told me he still texts his friends so I shouldn’t worry.

In Facebook groups, I see mothers like me trying to figure out if their teens are in healthy relationships. They ask questions like “how much time together is too much?”

I have completely forgotten what puppy love looks like—but I am now watching it firsthand. Today puppy love is plastering “couple photos” all over Instagram.

Moms know nothing, or do we?

Mothers like me want to save our sons and daughters from the heartbreak of a relationship gone bad and the social media fallout that follows. We want to tell our teens they will be okay in or out of a relationship before it’s too late and they get hurt. But teens, especially boys, think mom doesn’t get it.

As a mother, it’s tricky to give advice. In some ways, I am underqualified because I didn’t grow up with the pressure of social media or with texting as the preferred way of communication.

Still, human nature remains human nature and while I may not be attuned to new relationship rules, I feel qualified to give practical advice.

Is it okay to spend all your time with your boyfriend or girlfriend and ignore your friends? Is it okay to consider yourself in a relationship if you only text each other? Is it okay to post dozens of pictures together on social media and set yourself up for heartbreak if or when you are no longer a couple?

Mom would say no, but if my son asks a friend for advice, he or she might give a different answer.

So, I tell my son I am here to be a soundboard if he needs someone to offer the female perspective. And while he dismisses my offer, I watch from the sidelines. My advice is not wanted. Not now, but maybe one day.


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