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How to deal with a jealous, hostile 14 year old?
January 26, 2010 5:50 PM   Subscribe

How to deal with a jealous, hostile 14 year old?

My boyfriend Brian and I are both 25, and have been together about a year.

One of his mother's best friends has a nearly 15 year old daughter named Kyla. Brian has known Kyla since she was 5.

Everyone says Kyla has had a "crush" on Brian for her whole life. Before I met Kyla, I thought this would be innocent and cute. I expected to find her charming.

Not really. Kyla is extremely forward with Brian. She's always trying to sit on his lap, hold his hand, and get him to put his arm around her. She is well endowed and wears extremely low cut shirts, and makes a show out of sexy-dancing in front of him.

Kyla is extremely hostile to me, in that subtle "Mean Girls" way. She will not make eye contact with me. If I address her directly, she either makes a show of ignoring me (if we're alone), or, if adults are watching, she quietly mutters something unintelligible.

If Brian and I are standing next to each other, Kyla finds a way to stand between us, sometimes physically wedging herself in. If I'm sitting next to him, if I get up, Kyla will be sitting there when I get back. Or she'll just sit down in his lap. Anytime I speak, no matter who I am speaking with but especially if it is Brian, Kyla will cut me off to turn the conversation back to herself. She also makes very subtle insulting comments about me.

Brian, his mother, and all of their family friends are pretty close. Brian visits this family maybe every month, or every other month.

Brian wouldn't mind if I skipped it, but it's extremely important to me to share this sort of thing with him. And I do like the rest of the family very much, and would like to know them better. Her behavior just wears on me after a while.

Brian either does not notice her behavior, because he's known her so long, or finds it flattering in some way. I've mentioned it to him before, once, and he said that he had no idea what I was talking about, and I was reading too much into it. By contrast, one of my own friends came with us once to visit this family, and, without a word from me, pulled me aside halfway through the visit and said "what on earth is wrong with that girl?"

Is there an effective way to deal with her? In addition to the part of me that is just annoyed, there is another part that wants her to learn this behavior is wrong genuinely for her own good. If I had acted like this as a 14 year old, my older sister and mother would have both set me straight. And I would have learned how to act like an adult, how certain behaviors make you appear to others, and the problems that they can cause.

Kyla's parents are extremely permissive and have always spoiled her. Given how much they hate to criticize their own children, I do not think they'd react well to anyone outside their family doing it. Also, I think they find her behavior around Brian cute.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (72 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think this is on Brian. He has to enforce some limits with her--he doesn't have to be rude about it, but any "interference" that comes from you, The Girlfriend, is going to be read as overreaction and jealousy on your part. He needs to be polite but firm in maintaining some distance with her. Him, not you.
posted by Neofelis at 5:56 PM on January 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


Why are you hanging out with his mother's friend's children?

If it were me, I would show this post to your boyfriend. He needs to be the one to put the girl in her place.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:57 PM on January 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


you can't make the 14 year old learn anything from this. any attempts at trying to go down that road are fraught with danger. put that idea out of your head right now.

your only recourse is to bring it up with your boyfriend again - mention specifics - mention only the most egregious stuff. say that you are very uncomfortable with a 14 year old sitting on his lap, no matter how long they've known each other - maybe ask him what he'd think about happening upon that scene with 2 people he didn't know - what would he assume about the guy who lets a just barely teenage girl sit on his lap. then, depending on how he reacts, you get to make the decision if he's someone you want to be with.

you can't change her behavior - you can only hope to influence his reaction to it, and even then, this is all out of your hands.
posted by nadawi at 5:57 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Brian is a 25 year old man who is very unwise to let this child touch and/or interact with him in a remotely sexual way. I'm not sure whether you are asking whether you should adapt to/adjust to/accept her behavior, try to change her behavior, or try to change his behavior. I would ignore her, and let him know that his acceptance/appreciation (even if just tacit) is inappropriate and dangerous. Perhaps I am being a little over dramatic in anticipating how easily a "misunderstanding" could occur, but I think being concerned about the natural progression of this behavior is wise. I realize he's not instigating the behavior, but as an adult he has a responsibility to firmly refuse to allow it.
posted by bunnycup at 6:02 PM on January 26, 2010 [31 favorites]


Brian needs to tell her to get off his lap already.

(Mr. F ran into the overly-flirty teenage niece-of-friend issue once and it was just sort of amusing to watch her keep trying, as he's really just not into that kind of thing.)
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 6:03 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, even without the highly inappropriate sexual tension you've mentioned, Brian should not be letting a teenage girl sit on his lap, full stop.
posted by dhammond at 6:06 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is entirely on your boyfriend to address.
posted by Nattie at 6:06 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Brian needs to be the one to stop her from acting like that. You need to have a serious talk with him about how this makes you really uncomfortable, and that he should actively discourage this kind of behavior. I don't think him speaking to her would help the situation, since Kyla doesn't seem to have a sense of perspective about the whole thing. He needs to adjust how he acts so that she isn't able to sit on his lap anymore or wedge her way between the two of you.
posted by pecknpah at 6:10 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


If Brian and I are standing next to each other, Kyla finds a way to stand between us, sometimes physically wedging herself in. If I'm sitting next to him, if I get up, Kyla will be sitting there when I get back. Or she'll just sit down in his lap. Anytime I speak, no matter who I am speaking with but especially if it is Brian, Kyla will cut me off to turn the conversation back to herself. She also makes very subtle insulting comments about me.

All of this? All of this right up here? That's not ok. For Brian to be participating in, I mean. Whether or not he's known her since she was a little kid, Brian can't be letting a 14-year-old who "has a crush" sit in his lap, monopolize his attention, and act hostile toward his girlfriend.

Brian should discuss this with Kyla's mom and come up with a plan for setting and maintaining healthy, normal boundaries. Grown men do not have flirtatious contact with 14-year-old girls--even if it's the girl who is being aggressive and flirtatious. It's not right to let a 14-year-old think this behavior is normal, healthy, or acceptable. Not only are you being mistreated here (and indeed, I do think you're being mistreated), no one is doing Kyla any favors by letting this go on.
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:12 PM on January 26, 2010 [23 favorites]


Even if he doesn't see anything wrong with it, he should respect your feelings enough to change his behavior. Don't interact with the girl at all, leave it to Brian to set the boundaries. Talk to him about it in advance of the next time you see Kyla, and be very specific about what you find inappropriate (the lap stuff for sure.)

If he doesn't care enough about your feelings in this matter to stop getting his kicks from a 15 year old flirting with him, let Kyla have him and go find yourself a grown-up.
posted by egeanin at 6:12 PM on January 26, 2010 [36 favorites]


If he doesn't care enough about your feelings in this matter to stop getting his kicks from a 15 year old flirting with him, let Kyla have him and go find yourself a grown-up.

This.
posted by headnsouth at 6:14 PM on January 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


Also, the fact that she's a minor makes the situation really, really inappropriate. You don't want him to be susceptible to a false allegation of sexual assault or something.
posted by pecknpah at 6:15 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


The girl is acting completely inappropriately but, and this is the part you don't seem to have come to grips with, so is your boyfriend. And he's the nominal adult so his misbehavior is tons worse than this girls. It's absolutely inappropriate for him to allow the 14 year old daughter of his mother's friend to be sitting on his lap or otherwise touching him in a pseudo-sexual manner.

So the much more important question is not "how do I deal with a jealous, hostile 14 year old?" it's "how do I deal with my 25 year old boyfriend who is behaving completely inappropriately around a 14 year old girl". He needs to get this in line POST HASTE or he's going to be lucky not to get into some deep shit over it. It is not unknown for people of that age (13-14) to make spurious claims in these sorts of situations because they don't fully understand the ramifications of their actions.

So: The way you deal with it is to tell your boyfriend that he will not touch this girl in any way from this point forward unless he's preventing her from stepping in front of a bus or something.
posted by Justinian at 6:24 PM on January 26, 2010 [40 favorites]


I see no indication that Brian is engaging in anything untoward:

She's always trying to sit on his lap, hold his hand, and get him to put his arm around her.

I read that as her boyfriend swatting her away. In fact I see nothing suggesting that her boyfriend is encouraging or engaging in anything untoward. It did read like, "Yeah the behavior is super creepy but I've known her and the family for so long and I'm going to pretend she's not in full blown Lolita mode and not doing that cute thing where she's 5 and says she wants to marry me."

Furthermore I'm saying there's a 90% chance that Kayla's been told her whole life that her and Brian are going to end up together. I'm sure her mom tells her how cute they are together. I'm sure she hears all sorts of messages except, "You're acting crazy." I'm sure the two parents talk about how great it would be if they could be a family.

Does Brian at least acknowledge she's mean and disrespectful to you? Addressing this when it happens (and it must come from Brian, not from you) is really the best course. If everyone wants to pretend she's still a little girl without a sexuality, fine so be it, don't get into that. I'm guessing that once she acknowledges that you're a person and begins to treat you as one and not just some competition, a lot of this behavior will fade. Not to mention she'll grow out of it. You say it is once a month or every other month? That's nothing in teen years, by July 4 she could be reading the Fountainhead and wanting to become an architect.
posted by geoff. at 6:30 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


(Just to encourage you a little, I really do think all fourteen year olds should be locked up till they turn fifteen. That age is really a pill.)

Meanwhile, I think you need to have a serious talk with your boyfriend. You are not overreacting. You need to take him by the hand, lead him over here to the computer, close enough for me to slap him upside the head and ask him what the heck he's thinking letting this girl behave like this with him?

IT'S INAPPROPRIATE.

(and I am shocked, frankly, that he doesn't get that without having to be told, implication being he LIKES the behavior for all the wrong reasons. I hope you let him read what I just wrote and that he lets it sink in just a bit.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:33 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


geoff:

Kyla will be sitting there when I get back. Or she'll just sit down in his lap.

It seems pretty clear that Brian does behave inappropriately, if mostly by inaction.
posted by Justinian at 6:34 PM on January 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I am so sorry that you are in this situation. This gross, inappropriate, gross, dangerous, gross situation.

*shudder*

Your boyfriend needs to understand that this is totally inappropriate. Does he want to have sex with Kyla? She thinks he does. As another female, you see the signs. As a male who probably sees her as that cute 5 year old, he doesn't. You need to get him to see it. Either he will realize it for what it is and put a stop to it, or he will continue to turn a blind eye and risk losing you.

I have known girls just like this Kyla. They are not above anything. She sees him as her right, and will try anything to take him. These girls have been known to claim things that are pure figments of imagination, but get the guy into a lot of trouble. When I was 14 I knew a girl who claimed to be pregnant by a friend of her family. The man was arrested and imprisoned for three days before a doctor confirmed that the girl was in fact a virgin. I wish it had made the news so that I had a link to give you to show your boyfriend.

Your boyfriend has got to make it perfectly clear to Kyla that he is not, and will not be interested in her. He is the only one who will be able to get through to her. He needs to tell her in no uncertain terms that even though he sees her as a little sister she is way too old to be sitting on his lap, and that she needs to cover up around him. He cannot tolerate any of this attitude of coming between the two of you, physically or emotionally. He can't be soft about it, he must be firm. Kind but firm.

If you can't get him to see reason and take action then you might want to rethink your relationship with this guy.
posted by TooFewShoes at 6:44 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have to admit that I was a 12 - 14 year old who did things like this (although I wouldn't have gotten on anyone's lap!).

The only thing that would have made me stop and perhaps even think about what I was doing would have been a clear message from the crush object. Not an ambiguous one, not a flirtatious one, and not an angry or mean one, but a real, serious "I think you're a nice girl but the way you act around me is not ok. I'm not someone you can behave like that around, please stop it" type thing. And it would probably have worked best and been least traumatic if the adult involved had make me feel like he actually valued and respected me, because probably on some level that's what I wanted and didn't know how to get.

If my mom had said something to me I would have dismissed it because it was my mom. If the girlfriend had said something I would probably have been proud that she saw me as a threat. It would have had to have been the dude involved saying "hey, that's not cool". If the girlfriend had been genuinely nice to me though, it probably would have shown me another way of getting some adult attention and approval, and I might have wanted her to like me and backed off her boyfriend.

I do think that both you and your boyfriend have to consciously "shift the generational line" here. I get the sense that you and he still feel like you're in the kids group with her, and that's understandable because there's only 10 years difference, and your lives probably don't look so much like your parent's lives yet. I'm 29 and sometimes I still feel more like I should be at the kids table. It's not really true though, you are adults and she is not, legally or emotionally. How teenagers relate to the world is very different from how young adults do - please don't forget that even when her Mean Girls act seems grown up enough to push some buttons for you. And your boyfriend really, really need to wake up to the difference between him and her. Maybe it's cute to some family members who still think of him as a kid, but he's not. Really.

Last thing - I'm sorry, I hate to say this and I'm not suggesting anything "happened", but if I were you I would wonder some about how your boyfriend dealt with this and how he acted around her before you were in the picture.
posted by crabintheocean at 6:44 PM on January 26, 2010 [13 favorites]


If Brian doesn't see a problem with this behaviour, that's a huge warning sign. It should be obvious to any remotely mature person that this behaviour is inappropriate and embarrassing. I'm surprised her family hasn't said anything to her about it. You need to be completely clear with Brian: this behaviour is inappropriate, it's aimed at making you feel uncomfortable, and you're not willing to put up with it.

There are a few ways Brian could approach this. Next time Kyla tries to sit on his lap, he could say, "Sorry, kiddo, you're not seven anymore, there's a chair open over there." Every time she tries to stand between you, he needs to say, "Kyla, please don't cut in like that." He could also try talking to her mother, and say that the harmless childhood crush is becoming unhealthy and resulting in abnormal behaviour, and that he's concerned both for her and for his ability to interact socially with the family. While he loves spending time with the family, he's simply not willing to put you in an awkward position, on the receiving end of hostility, every time you get together.

If the behaviour doesn't change soon, then he has to stop visiting the family socially while Kyla is around. If he's not willing to get serious about this, then you should think twice about getting serious about him.
posted by Dasein at 6:49 PM on January 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Is there an effective way to deal with her?", you ask. Maybe...and I mean this nicely, you might inquire about what did and didn't work with Kyla in the past. She was in his life before any recent ex-girlfriends, and she's in his life after them. She's probably not directing this at you personally, just your position in his life. Maybe she's been a dealbreaker or causative factor in the past?

Do you want to be the one to help fix this for him (or help him to fix this); to fix this for her, hopefully for good; and whether you fail or succeed, take whatever fallout? One of you is in a more temporary, slightly outside position in his life than the other, by your description, which is quite a disadvantage. It's a lot to add to your job description as girlfriend of one year. I'd only attempt it if you're pretty sure that you and Brian are going to outlast Kyla, with the support of the other, less inappropriately-behaved constants in his life, like his Mom.

Yes, of course he needs to understand what's good and right and appropriate and moral in all of this to improve his character, as does she - I agree with all of those who stated that above - but remember puberty? Hopefully, very soon she'll find someone who's interested in her charms and who is better matched in maturity and hormones, and then she will be writing that name and TLA on her notebooks (do kids these days still do that?) and will no longer need to practice her burgeoning sexuality on your boyfriend.
posted by peagood at 6:56 PM on January 26, 2010


follow-up from the OP
I'm really a bit hesitant to bring this up with Brian again. That's because the only time I did bring it up, he was so abruptly dismissive. Not only did he say he had no idea what I was talking about, he really acted like I was being irrational and nutty. He said I was reading things into something that was completely innocent. He acted like I was extremely paranoid. The stereotypical jealous girlfriend overreacting to all innocent gestures from other females. In a disappointed tone, he said something to the effect of "you're not jealous of a FOURTEEN YEAR OLD, are you? Because that's how this is coming off."

I was really embarrassed by that, so... I was hoping there was something I could do about it myself. If not, I'll buck up and try to say something again.

In case anyone is worried, 99% of me is pretty sure that he does genuinely see it as innocent, and her as a 5 year old as other have said.
posted by jessamyn at 7:03 PM on January 26, 2010


I get the sense that you and he still feel like you're in the kids group with her, and that's understandable because there's only 10 years difference

I got this too, especially when you wrote "she either makes a show of ignoring me (if we're alone), or, if adults are watching, she quietly mutters something unintelligible."

I could be reading too much into this (if so, sorry!) but you are an adult. You say the girl is not disciplied well, but would she treat another adult like she treats you? If not maybe you can try to believe and act like you're an adult around her. It's not clear what situations you're mostly hanging out with her in - but if it's unnecessary (just her watching tv or movies with you two? activities you're doing as "the young people" together?) maybe that could be changed. How is she getting the opportunity to sexy-dance in front of your BF?

Just an idea in addition to the excellent suggestions above.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:10 PM on January 26, 2010


Excellent advice above, and peagood makes a really good point. Is this really the first time this has happened?

I doubt it.

Also, uhhh, maybe this is subtly encouraged by the parents on both sides. Like, maybe in some way they hope these two will end up together down the road?? I only say this because it seems so weird. So weird and ICK.

------

You are 2wenty Freakin' 5. You've got it all!! This is not the hill you want to die on. Trust me.

If you speak to your boyfriend about this once more, in a truly calm and mature way, and he brushes off the obvious (notice I didn't write "your concerns" - the situation here is beyond that) then I encourage you to see this as a deal breaker.

Go out and find yourself someone who has more self-esteem than to watch a 14 year old "mean girl" his significant other.

That is all.
posted by jbenben at 7:11 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


On seeing the reply, that's pretty dismissive of your boyfriend. How about you have a mutual girl friend come with you next time - maybe the one who noticed the kid is messed up - and have her "jokingly" say something like, "whooa brian that little girl was all over you! that was so awkward! aren't you worried about how that looks?" if it happens.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:12 PM on January 26, 2010 [12 favorites]


(Um are we absolutely completely sure that Brian is not sleeping with this girl, either now or in the past?)
posted by bluedaisy at 7:14 PM on January 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


In case anyone is worried, 99% of me is pretty sure that he does genuinely see it as innocent, and her as a 5 year old as other have said.

Well, then, frankly, he's a complete fucking idiot.

This, in and of itself, would be enough for me to dump the guy.
posted by Netzapper at 7:20 PM on January 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


the only time I did bring it up, he was so abruptly dismissive.

This, paired with a 14-year-old who sits in his lap, is a big red flag.

You should not feel embarrassed for expecting your adult boyfriend to behave appropriately toward a 14-year-old girl, and behaving appropriately in that context means not only his choices and actions but also his reactions to her. He should not react to her sitting in his lap and flirting with him by laughing it off. And he should absolutely not react to you bringing this up by being dismissive and saying he's "disappointed."

His reaction to your concern was bizarre. I know you say you're embarrassed by the experience, but please understand that your concern here is reasonable and healthy.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:22 PM on January 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


In case anyone is worried, 99% of me is pretty sure that he does genuinely see it as innocent, and her as a 5 year old as other have said.

99% of me is pretty sure that 25 year old dudes do not see an "extremely well-endowed female wearing low-cut shirts and dancing sexy" as a 5 year old. And if he's telling you that, 99% of me is pretty sure he's lying. If he isn't, I'm 99% sure you're fooling yourself.

I'm not saying he's doing anything more appropriate than what you've already mentioned, but there's just no way that he sees this girl as a 5 year old. Responsible, adult males don't act inappropriately towards well-endowed, low-cut-shirt wearing, sexy dancing 14-15 year old girls but we damn sure don't "see" them the same way we see a small child.
posted by Justinian at 7:34 PM on January 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


The whole dynamic you've described--among Brian, Kyla, Brian's mom, Kyla's parents--is really creepy and strange. No one thinks this behavior is inappropriate? Brian gets defensive when you mention what Kyla's doing? Sounds to me like he enjoys the attention, honestly. You can find someone better.
posted by orrnyereg at 7:36 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I agree with Meg_Murry and having read the follow-up, think you should be kind to yourself and dump this jerk. Why would you want to remain in a relationship with a man who invalidates your legitimate concerns and says you are the problem?
posted by mlis at 7:37 PM on January 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


the only reason i can see for his reaction (besides the red flag that is immediately obvious) is that you approached it with him in much the same way you approached it here - you made it about the 14 year old and her actions instead of about your boyfriend and his reactions. he views you as being jealous of this girl, and honestly, i think he's a little right about that. you need to separate your feelings about her (is she pressing buttons that girls you use to go to school with pressed?) and how you want your boyfriend to react in any situation that involves another female, especially one that is underage. if he says "you're not jealous of a FOURTEEN YEAR OLD, are you? Because that's how this is coming off." then you say "no - of course not. what does concern me is that my boyfriend has no problem receiving over the line attention from a child who is just learning about her sexuality. i'm trying to figure out if you're clueless or dangerous." but to have that conversation you need to internally change this from "you vs kyla" and make this "helping brian to see how things appear from the outside".

i really think you might want to show him this thread, to see how it appears to a whole bunch of people who don't care one way or another if you guys are together (not to say that we want you to break up or that we don't care about your problem - but that we don't have a vested interest in you or him or the politics surrounding his/their family).
posted by nadawi at 7:37 PM on January 26, 2010 [23 favorites]


I think nadawi and some others have this exactly right. You're viewing this as you-vs-kyla as though you're all in the same sort of peer group. I realize that, at 25, you're probably not feeling comfortable quite yet lumping yourself in with your parents and Kyla's parents. But that's where you belong, not with Kyla.

You guys aren't children anymore. Kyla is. This isn't about you being jealous of Kyla. It's not about you and Kyla "competing". It's about drawing a boundary between adult interactions and interactions with children. Perhaps this is the first time in your life you've had to deliberately and with forethought put yourself on the ADULT side of that line compared to someone of an age you're used to seeing as peers.

But you're 25 and you gotta do it. Kyla's a kid. Stop thinking about her as a peer.
posted by Justinian at 7:43 PM on January 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


Honestly, he probably thinks of her as a sister or cousin figure, and is so grossed out by the idea that he is ignoring otherwise obvious signals. That would explain his earlier dismissal. Because, yeah, as a fifteen year old it would be really nice to have a little five-year-old pseudo-cousin who looked up to you and always wanted to see you. He is still hanging on to that.

And while he has always seen her as a cute little girl, to the point of never even allowing the thought of sex to cross his mind... she is just now entering puberty, and he's always been the cool older man in her life. His relationship to her is NOT like her relationship to him. He doesn't seem to get that.

I think you need to sit down with him and talk about this again. Make it clear that you're seriously concerned and upset- if you just 'mentioned' it before, that may not have come across.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:43 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


If a 15 year old girl acted like that around me when I was 25, I probably would have quickly worked out a way to sleep with her and get away with it.

I never actually did such a thing, but it's not such a stretch for a 25 year old guy. (judge away, mefites, but I doubt I'd have been the only 25 year old guy to think such a thing)

At the very least, I would have been counting the days till she was a bit more legal in order to take her up on the offer.

You have no way of knowing what's inside his head - the fact that he is not actively discouraging the behaviour means that he doesn't want to actively discourage the behaviour. Think there might be a reason for that?
posted by anonymous account at 7:47 PM on January 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


Guys, come on, he didn't just meet this girl. He's known her for most of her life as adorable little KID!
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:52 PM on January 26, 2010


... the only time I did bring it up, he was so abruptly dismissive. Not only did he say he had no idea what I was talking about, he really acted like I was being irrational and nutty. He said I was reading things into something that was completely innocent. He acted like I was extremely paranoid.

Nothing screams "manipulator" more to me than someone who pretends civilly-presented, rational objections are insane. And that phrase - that he has ' no idea what you were talking about' is the most concerning. Not that he sees the behavior and assures you is innocent because of reasons X, Y and Z, but that he completely denies its reality followed by pretending you are the unreasonable one. I'm absolutely not going to suggest I know your boyfriend better than you do, since obviously I don't know him at all. But this question being the only thing I know about him, it sends up huge red flags to me - textbook red flags. Is this something you can share with someone - like a sibling, relative or close friend - who also knows Brian, to get their opinion? Again, please let me reiterate - I don't know Brian remotely enough to make an accusation, here, and that is not what I am doing. But you have shared enough to make me pretty concerned, so I am suggesting that you really give it some serious thought and get advice from people who can judge Brian better than we strangers who don't know him can.
posted by bunnycup at 7:52 PM on January 26, 2010 [23 favorites]


Oh my. Well, pity this poor girl, first of all, playing her games and shooting daggers at you.

How close are you with Brian's mom? Because you're right, when older sisters/aunts/female family friends see this sort of thing, they're supposed to set the girl straight and have the chat with the girl's mother.

Of course, the typical behavior from the one in Brian's shoes is to be embarrassed for the girl and tell his mom or the girl's mom that perhaps she needs a little woman-to-woman talk about how to act around adult men, family friends or no.
posted by desuetude at 7:56 PM on January 26, 2010


Guys, come on, he didn't just meet this girl. He's known her for most of her life as adorable little KID!

Do you really think he hasn't noticed the cleavage, the touching, the lap sitting? Can he possibly be that clueless? And if he is, shouldn't that rule him out as boyfriend material? I say let Kyla have him.
posted by orrnyereg at 7:57 PM on January 26, 2010


You: "Brian we have to talk about this situation with Kyla. I've figured out what it is that upsets me so much."

Brian: "Oh come on! We had this discussion, she's just a little kid. You aren't seriously jealous of a little kid are you?"

You: "I don't care what she does. The thing that bothers me is your reaction. She is a teenager who has some serious issues with boundaries, and you are totally confusing her. It really has to stop. I know I am an outsider in the relationship that you two have, but maybe that lets me see things without the rose colored glasses. There is nothing appropriate about this 'puppy love' thing she has going on with you. If you don't see that I think we need to have a serious discussion."

Brian: "I don't have any idea what you're talking about, she's just a little kid who wants attention."

You: "I understand you think that, but she is going about it the wrong way and you are giving her the wrong kind of attention. If she were a grown woman I could just brush it off as being pathetic, but the thing is that she is just a teenager. Teenagers have really skewed outlooks on the world, and you are sending her signals that tell her that she has a chance at a romantic relationship with you. I know you see her as a cute kid, but the truth is that she is not a kid any more. If she was acting like this with some other random 25 year old guy you would probably want to kick that guy's ass."

"This whole thing with you letting her sit on your lap is gross. She can't do that anymore. You could get into trouble. Try to think about what it would look like to someone who doesn't know about your relationship. A fourteen year old girl with a woman's body is sitting on the lap of a 25 year old man that she isn't related to. It's creepy and you need to do something to stop it."

I have to say I'm with bunnycup on this one. Brian sounds like he is manipulating you. I really hate to say this, but if he turns this around on you again you will need to look long and hard at your relationship. Do you really want to spend your relationship worried that he is enjoying the attention of this pubescent girl? I know I wouldn't want my daughter around him.
posted by TooFewShoes at 8:05 PM on January 26, 2010 [16 favorites]


"Of course I'm not jealous of her. I just refuse to play Charlotte Haze to your Humbert Humbert. It's creepy to watch you and friends have talked to me about it. I need to you respect this, tell Kyla to knock it off. Otherwise, I'm out of here."
posted by klangklangston at 8:15 PM on January 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


When I was in high school, this really nice girl I knew in my grade finally confessed to me that she was having a sexual affair with a distant male cousin who was engaged. Big family get-togethers, all that.

We graduated, and I never found out how that scenario turned out.

About the same time (I was 16, attractive, well-endowed, dressed well) I went to my neighbor's wedding (she was my fav babysitter when we were younger...) a month later, her younger brother (about 25) wrote me a letter (snail mail) asking me on a date! Again, he was about 25, and had been on sailing trips with my Dad! He no longer lived at home (across the street from me.)

How he thought this was appropriate - I never could fathom.

I kept his overture secret from my parents. Luckily, I had good friends who told me not to go for it.

OP - you have no idea wht is going on here. But it is weird if upon a mature re-visit of the issue your bf blows you off.

Sorry.
posted by jbenben at 8:18 PM on January 26, 2010


TooFewShoes has given you a really great script. Let me add just a little bit of advice to it: finish the script. Figure out how Brian might end up responding to your comments, and work out, on paper, how you will respond to those comments. Come up with as many possibilities as you can think of. That way, he won't be able to surprise you into silence. I know how hard it can be to be in a conversation like that, and preparation really is the key to communicating here.
posted by Ms. Saint at 8:18 PM on January 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Jesus Christ, leave this asshole. Let's ignore the Lolita thing entirely- you should leave him based entirely on how he treats you when you bring something important up to him.

"...that's because the only time I did bring it up, he was so abruptly dismissive ... he really acted like I was being irrational and nutty ... He acted like I was extremely paranoid. The stereotypical jealous girlfriend overreacting to all innocent gestures from other females. In a disappointed tone, he said something to the effect of "you're not jealous of a FOURTEEN YEAR OLD, are you? Because that's how this is coming off."

All of that there? Completely unacceptable. In my eyes, this is almost more of a e slam dunk "break it off now" than even if he were sleeping with the girl. A relationship can sometimes overcome cheating, it cannot overcome him treating you like a silly child that he owes zero respect.
posted by spaltavian at 8:22 PM on January 26, 2010 [11 favorites]


Look at what the men, in particular, are saying to you in this thread. A functioning male of 25 is going to get an erection around the kind of behaviour you are describing. If he is healthy, he wouldn't be able to help it. And evidently, he doesn't want to. He is lying about the reality of his interaction with this girl, and he is playing nasty games with you as well. Run.
posted by uans at 8:30 PM on January 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


Whilst Kyla's behaviour is worrying, as far as your relationship goes, I think I'd be looking for Brian's behaviour to be exemplary (i.e. not responding to her "overtures", not dismissing your concerns) rather than worrying about what she's going to do. You can't control her behaviour but you can decide whether you want to be around him.

It's up to Brian to reassure you (through both his behaviour and his words) that you have nothing to worry about.
posted by prettypretty at 8:32 PM on January 26, 2010


Guys, come on, he didn't just meet this girl. He's known her for most of her life as adorable little KID!

Yeaaaaah... no. They didn't grow up (at relatively close ages) on a Kibbitzum or something.

The age differential between myself and some of my sister's friends are similar to the ones in this quesiton. I knew them most of their lives as adorable little kids. I promise you I stopped viewing them as adorable little kids once they got, you know, all hot and stuff.

That he views a well-endowed female wearing a low cut shirt and doing sexy dances for him and sitting in his lap as a little kid doesn't pass the laugh test.
posted by Justinian at 8:48 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had a friend who knew my family before I was even born! He was always cool and chillin' with us. I used to hang out with him and my brothers. They kept me from boredom. I remember when he first picked me up when I was 4 years old. My parents told me to not allow him to pick me up, it wasn't appropriate. So, he never did. He saw me as a cute little girl. Always played around with me. When I blossomed into a teenager, he started seeing me differently. I was exploring my curiosity about men so I obliged into dating him. We never had sex. But he did kiss me, once and actually fell in love with me. I freaked out. And backed out. FAST. I never told my family though. It was only 6 years ago the truth came out and he has been ex-communicated. And mind you, I was 15... he was 28. He admitted to me many times how he was looking at me sexually. The situation turned out to be messy and he probably still has feelings for me. I don't know, and don't want to know.

It's a good thing she's doing this so openly because it's prime for someone to address it to her. I didn't do this openly but he was my only outlet to the world outside of myself. I thought it would be "safe." So, I never got any lessons on my behavior. I feel bad for her because she doesn't know what she's getting herself into and you have to be the level-headed adult. And yea, you need to give it to your man upside his head because what he's doing to you and your feelings is wrong. Any man will see a fully developed girl as a sexual being. I don't care who it is. It takes a real man to get out of his teenage years. If he really respects the family relationship he has with this little girl, (I'm sorry, she still is) then he will address how inappropriate her behavior is TO HER. Why should you be the one to do it? Why should you have to shut up about it? Make it clear to him that she's underage. Period. End of story.
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 9:52 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Honestly, it sounds like Brian probably knows that it is an issue but decided that it was a waste of his time to try to correct this behavior. If he visits this family once every month, or every other month what would be the reason for him to throw a drama bomb in the middle of the room that wont be resolved for a minimum of 3-6 months possibly a year?

Sure the girls actions might be inappropriate but it has a high chance of being resolved by her growing up more. By sitting on his hands, he hopes that the issue would be resolved without him being nagged by multiple people or straining his and his families friendship with this other family.
posted by metex at 9:54 PM on January 26, 2010


do you know any available, adorable young men in her age range? preferably a couple of years older? bring them along next time. they'll at least be a distraction.

otherwise...wow, what a mess! Brian needs to be the one to set her straight, in a "Don't Stand So Close to Me" kind of way. It's kind of itchy (yes, itchy) that he doesn't seem to see a problem with this. so inappropriate! so encouraging of even more weirdness! so rife with potential for disaster! it's a damned shame her elders don't see any issue with it, either. speaks of poor self-esteem across the family, to my sensibilities.

luck in whatever way you choose to approach/avoid this. i hope you choose approach: life is a participant's sport.
posted by batmonkey at 10:01 PM on January 26, 2010


Ms. Saint has a good point about finishing the script so that you are 'well armed' for the inevitable discussion. MeMail me if you want someone to help you work this out, sometimes a little role playing exercise can be beneficial.
posted by TooFewShoes at 10:04 PM on January 26, 2010


I'm almost 25. Two of my sisters are 14 and 16. When I'm home, they'll often have friends around for a swim. Many of these girls are, physically, quite grown up. In the sense that it's a woman's body, in a bikini in the sun, they're quite attractive. Of course, they're kids and I'm not, so I'm not at all desirous of them. I would be quite put out if a friend my age expressed interest in someone that young.

Many of these girls I've known for years. If any of them ever sat on my lap, or tried to dance sexily, or flirted with me, I'd stop them politely or leave because it's just not on. It's not their fault, as they're just testing the boundaries of flirtation and attraction and sexuality. It would be my fault, as I'm old enough to know what is appropriate and what is not.

Your boyfriend is old enough to know as well. If he can't see that, then I'd be worried about him. More than that, if he doesn't respect you enough to take you seriously when you talk about something that's troubling you, I'd be worried about the relationship.

You should not have to feel put out because of his behaviour, and it is his responsibility to fix it.
If he can't do that, then you need to find someone who can.
posted by twirlypen at 10:17 PM on January 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


The fact that you're frightened to talk to your boyfriend is an issue. He responded to you in a really gross, critical, and mean way. Yes, it's mean to be dismissive and accuse your girlfriend of being jealous.

Men who are able to listen to their long-term partners, and who are willing to change their behavior in response to a reasonable suggestion or request, have successful long-term relationships. Men who avoid listening to their partner, or dismiss their partner's ideas and feelings, tend to have unhappy, unstable long-term relationships.

Don't get me wrong, it's also creepy and suspicious as hell that he has a 14-year-old all up on him. Sounds like they're boning.
posted by kathrineg at 10:53 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


the only time I did bring it up, he was so abruptly dismissive.

That's because he likes it. Do you think she would persist in this behavior if he wasn't giving her subtle encouragement?
posted by Crotalus at 11:10 PM on January 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


At the very least, I would have been counting the days till she was a bit more legal in order to take her up on the offer.

At the very very least.
posted by Crotalus at 11:14 PM on January 26, 2010


"No way, I'm not coming with you to the Smiths. Isn't it against the law for me to watch you get a lap dance from a preteen? Oh wait, she's a teenager now. Anyway, have fun!" Or even avoid being snarky. "Nah, I didn't really feel all that welcome last time, like I mentioned to you in the car on the way home. There was a weird vibe I wasn't into. I'll see you when you get back. Tell your mom hello for me."

My opinion is that this is not the place to have the battle. She's practically family (which yes, makes this even more gross). If someone tried to change how I acted with my brother or my cousin, my reaction would be, "what do you know about us?" But of course, as I learn different skills in life, I bring them back to how I relate to my family. Think of times you've had a battle over how someone related to their family. Have any gone well? Have they heard what you were saying? For me, that never worked. The discussions over how they treated me over something small -- those usually worked. Over time, we built up the ability to tackle major issues like this.

At this point, outside life is upstream, and family life is downstream. His relationship with you is the leading indicator, and this is a lagging indicator. He's stupid here and defensive about it? Fine. That just proves he won't be able to hear what you have to say. But what goes on here just shows you where he's coming from. He'll either change or not. What's going on in the rest of his life shows the direction he'll change. Your chances of changing or improving things, as well as your chances of accurately gauging his trajectory (rather than where he's coming from) are better if you focus on more current, non-familial relationships. How is he with you alone and around friends? Is he dismissive or respectful? Does he hear you, respect what you say, take your side in conflicts?

If everything is otherwise awesome with you guys and he is on a path of gaining maturity, just ignore this, ignore her, and don't go to these things with him. It will fade away as you develop a real life together as adults. Yes, right now it's weird and it sucks for you. But you are so far above this. You are his real-life girlfriend. You do not need to have a battle over "show respect to me, don't take Mean Teen's side." Do you even want to have that conversation? And seriously, who cares? Rise above it.

I do think there's a chance that he'll continue to feel the pull of this childhood match while she grows up until he eventually decides to try to make it work with her (in a decade or so). But that's assuming that things with you guys don't work out.
posted by salvia at 1:10 AM on January 27, 2010


Deal with the 14 year old the same way the 14 year old deals with most of the adult world: endless eyerolling.

Deal with Brian using a swift application of the clue-by-four.
posted by flabdablet at 2:06 AM on January 27, 2010


If idiot boyfriend tries to pull the "jealous?!" card again, make it clear this isn't about you worrying that this kid is going to steal him away. Rather, this is an issue about friends of HIS being rude to YOU - he is responsible for making you feel comfortable if he brings you to his friends & family; that he lets this kid take your place, interrupt you, be just plain damn rude, is a huge lapse of common courtesy on his part. She's going out of her way to make you uncomfortable and unwelcome, and if he is interested in making you feel like a part of his extended family, then he should WANT to put the chill on someone who is trying to cut you out of it.
posted by Billegible at 2:32 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm really a bit hesitant to bring this up with Brian again. That's because the only time I did bring it up, he was so abruptly dismissive. Not only did he say he had no idea what I was talking about, he really acted like I was being irrational and nutty. He said I was reading things into something that was completely innocent. He acted like I was extremely paranoid. The stereotypical jealous girlfriend overreacting to all innocent gestures from other females. In a disappointed tone, he said something to the effect of "you're not jealous of a FOURTEEN YEAR OLD, are you? Because that's how this is coming off."

You got bigger problems than a fourteen year old.

If you can't set him down, show him this thread and tell him there's a problem, you have a problem.

If you do and he rolls his eyes, you have a BIG problem.

Put your big girl panties on and speak up. If he dismisses it again, you need to find a new boyfriend, because it is NOT cool for him to dis your concerns. Period.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:57 AM on January 27, 2010


Nothing screams "manipulator" more to me than someone who pretends civilly-presented, rational objections are insane. And that phrase - that he has ' no idea what you were talking about' is the most concerning. Not that he sees the behavior and assures you is innocent because of reasons X, Y and Z, but that he completely denies its reality followed by pretending you are the unreasonable one.

Yes, exactly. Your follow-up was more troubling to me than the original question. If you have brought it up with him and he's telling you that you are crazy - that's a big sign that there are communication problems in the relationship beyond this particular situation. I don't want to extrapolate as I don't know you or your relationship, but this could show up in bigger problems later on - something happens that's important to you and he dismisses it as you being "irrational" and you accept that to the point where you start changing your own behavior.

You should not have to apologize for your feelings in a relationship. A relationship should be a partnership, not an unbalanced pairing where one partner dismisses the other's concerns as "invalid." Whether or not he agrees with you, it's essential that he understands that this is very important to you and pays you the respect of at least having an adult conversation about it, even if in the end he decides not to change his behavior. No matter what else he does, he needs to be able to talk to you about his - and anything else - as an adult talking to an equal, not as a dismissive adult talking as if his adult partner were a whiny child.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:30 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Brian is your problem, not Kyla.

I'm really a bit hesitant to bring this up with Brian again. That's because the only time I did bring it up, he was so abruptly dismissive. Not only did he say he had no idea what I was talking about, he really acted like I was being irrational and nutty.

Yep, Brian is your problem.

He's attracted to her and he likes the attention. He might not be aware of this conciously, but his going on the offensive against you when you brought it up shows the truth.

I was in a similar situation, and was treated similarly by my boyfriend. They were sleeping together by the time she was 17.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:58 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ok, so let's leave the 14 year old bit for a mo - it's been widely addressed as WRONG etc. Would it be acceptable in any social situation when one is past toddler age? I mean, would you let your co-workers, a male friend, your dad/brother, your galpals sit on your lap and cuddle - no matter how long you have known them? Would you sit on any man's lap, force his attention onto you in a sexualised way? Wouldn't you kinda feel weird doing that? The family seems complicit in permitting these sexualised enactments but it doesn't mean it's right. The attachment there needs to be re calibrated to reflect Kyla's transition from child to adult woman, and Brian's corresponding movement from child to man.

Brian sounds very adolescent in his response to you. Not only is the sexualised behaviour an issue, but his adolescent belligerence when you tried to address it is telling. He shamed you into silence/self doubt. What is he feeling self doubt about?

I know you don't want to have another conversation, but I think you came here to find validation of your viewpoint so you can shake off the horrible feeling that being called jealous and insecure has caused. I hope that the responses here remind you that your feelings and observations are valid. He cares more about his comfort with her, than your comfort - that's reason to feel jealous, regardless of her age or position. It is interesting that he came to that word so quickly. Every time a guy has said that to me about my 'jealous' feelings, they have been deflecting attention from their actual, later revealed, guilt.
posted by honey-barbara at 7:16 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


FWIW, I think it's highly unlikely that they're boning or that there has been any inappropriate contact other than the kind you and her family have witnessed - my experience of being a 14 year old girl leads me to believe that the nanosecond any actual sexual contact were to take place, that public behavior would cease to exist.
posted by tristeza at 7:36 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


cell phone camera videos are your friend. One look at herself should do it.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:43 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


the only time I did bring it up, he was so abruptly dismissive.

That's because he likes it. Do you think she would persist in this behavior if he wasn't giving her subtle encouragement?


"nthing" this - sorry, but at 25 there isn't that much age difference and many many many guys are still controlled by their physical bodies. If he is decent he won't act on it - but I guarantee you that she has at least played a role in his fantasy life.
posted by jkaczor at 7:57 AM on January 27, 2010


I'm going to give your boyfriend the benefit of the doubt- let's say he does really view this girl as no more than a child, his lil' buddy. He definitely didn't handle you talking to him about it the right way, but if he really does see her as a "cousin", then it probably was bizarre for him to hear you say the things you did. I think you should refuse to attend any gatherings where she'll be present going forward, not making a big stink about it, but if he asks why you aren't coming, just tell him that it's because of what you had previously discussed, that you're just not comfortable with the whole situation, and that you'd just rather stay home. If he's really only seeing her once every month or two and that's the end of it, then I think ignoring it might be a good way to deal with things (that is, IF you believe him when he says your claims are baseless, and you still don't want to talk to him about it again).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:12 AM on January 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


my experience of being a 14 year old girl leads me to believe that the nanosecond any actual sexual contact were to take place, that public behavior would cease to exist.

I'm inclined to think this as well, but I also think that a 14-year-old who doesn't get any serious "stop it" responses from the adult man she's flirting with is on a bad trajectory. Either she'll push things too far with Brian and he'll have to say something (in circumstances that could look really, really bad for him and could get him in serious trouble) or she'll make similar advances toward other older men. Either way, if this is someone Brian cares about, he should be acting differently toward her.
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:13 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Brian has known this kid for so long, I don't think he understands objectively how the situation looks to outsiders, and he's not attempting to do this, given his dismissal of your concerns.

I think you should show him this thread, hopefully it will be a slap in the face wake-up call to see such overwhelming support for your concerns. At the very least, it should make him take a step back and reassess his dismissing tone with you. And if it doesn't, then you have more serious problems in your relationship than a flirty 14 yr old girl.
posted by Tooty McTootsalot at 8:25 AM on January 27, 2010


I'm really a bit hesitant to bring this up with Brian again. That's because the only time I did bring it up, he was so abruptly dismissive. Not only did he say he had no idea what I was talking about, he really acted like I was being irrational and nutty. He said I was reading things into something that was completely innocent. He acted like I was extremely paranoid. The stereotypical jealous girlfriend overreacting to all innocent gestures from other females. In a disappointed tone, he said something to the effect of "you're not jealous of a FOURTEEN YEAR OLD, are you? Because that's how this is coming off."

Holy cow, does that response send up red flags to me.
posted by sarcasticah at 8:54 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


In a disappointed tone, he said something to the effect of "you're not jealous of a FOURTEEN YEAR OLD, are you? Because that's how this is coming off."

I would say "The way you are acting, she can have you --- Oh wait SHE'S FOURTEEN!!"
posted by Gor-ella at 9:52 AM on January 27, 2010


"you're not jealous of a FOURTEEN YEAR OLD, are you? Because that's how this is coming off."


alternate script:

"Uh, no, I'm worried for you, you fool. You're not attracted to a FOURTEEN YEAR OLD, are you? because that's how this is coming off to me and our friends! seriously, ask (friend name here) what she thought when she came over last week. Plus, you're leading this girl on. That's cruel."
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:42 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah I didn't think much of this until I saw your response via Jessamyn.

Red Flags all over on that one.

When I was about Kyla's age I had sex with someone about Brian's age. It's possible. And his response makes me feel he is at least flattered by this, if nothing more.

He needs to grow the fuck up or you need to walk away.
posted by French Fry at 12:03 PM on January 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm really a bit hesitant to bring this up with Brian again. That's because the only time I did bring it up, he was so abruptly dismissive. Not only did he say he had no idea what I was talking about, he really acted like I was being irrational and nutty.

Wow. Brian went from being a possibly clueless dude in the original post to a total fucking asshole in the follow-up. If you can't communicate with him effectively, what's the relationship worth?
posted by coolguymichael at 3:23 PM on January 27, 2010


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