I have been with my boyfriend for 4 years. He has been around my daughter since she was 12. He never touches her much but she has always greeted him with a hug. At 16 she is now growing into a woman. She is curvy and has breasts..much different from 4 years ago. Recently she said to me that she feels uncomfortable with how my boyfriend has touched her on two occasions. The first incident was a hug that he gave to her from behind with his hands placed on her hips and the second incident was him putting his finger around the waist of her pants. She says that these are the only two incidents since we have known him but she feels he is weird. I called my boyfriend immediately and had a conversation consisting of why did he touch her pants and why would he give her a hug from behind her. He says he was pulling her pants up because they were ripped around the waist (which they were) and he just didn’t think much about the hug. The immediate request was for him to not touch her at all, I also canceled our family outings for the rest of the week because my priority is making my daughter feel safe and that she has an advocate in her mother.
He was surprisingly understanding about the situation (he can get really upset if I accuse him of things sometimes) he said if she feels that way it is her truth and he knows now that she’s growing into a woman and he will not touch her. He also asked if we all could talk over the phone together so he could apologize. He said it’s a good thing that she told me. I have talked with my daughter and she is ok with having a phone conversation with all of us.
Still, it has made me lose sleep. I’m not ok with both of these incidents happening when no one is around. While I do love my boyfriend, does getting this information from my daughter means the relationship should dissolve immediately. How will my daughter view me if I continue with this relationship? I have never dealt with a situation like this before so I am really stuck here. (from the USA)
There are several elements of this situation that highlight a positive response by you and your boyfriend to your daughter’s concern. First, your daughter felt it important and safe enough to speak up to you about it. Secondly, you immediately responded to her request making her feel heard and believed. Third, the changes in her body are normal and her sensitivity to what may have been okay years ago and continued (hugging) is no longer okay. She is learning that it is okay and important to know what feels right and that this can change over time.
Next, your boyfriend responded with an openness and understanding and commitment to hearing your daughter out. In addition, he also requested that there be open communication and request to openly apologize. These are healthy responses from you and he and would seem to be serving your daughter’s sense of empowerment, ability to communicate, and boundary setting. These are life skills she will need. This type of responsiveness by you and your boyfriend sound like they are ideal in creating an environment where they can be safely experimented with.
On the other side of the coin, you’ll have to assess if not ending this with your boyfriend is interpreted by your daughter as you not supporting her. If that is the case, then making the choice to end your relationship makes sense. However, you ending the relationship when all your daughter wanted to do was voice her discomfort in a safe environment might be an overreaction and exactly the opposite of what she’d hoped for. There’s not enough information in your question to know how that might be interpreted, but these are the considerations I’d encourage you to make.
Wishing you patience and peace,