Boyfriend's daughter is jealous


Boyfriend's daughter is jealous


your avatar   Saz, 46-year-old woman


My boyfriend and I met around 9 months ago. He had been apart from his wife of 25 years for about a year, and he and his ex are currently going through a divorce. My boyfriend lives with one of his daughters, who is nearly 19 years old. When I first met his daughter, she appeared very mentally immature to me (although tall, well developed etc.) but talking "baby talk" to her Daddy and generally interrupting the new relationship that we were in the process of creating. For example, at Christmas she was trying to make the "plans" for us rather than us making plans for the festive period ourselves.

I have witnessed her throwing herself bodily around him which made me feel uncomfortable...arms around his neck, legs round his waist (very sexual looking to me), sitting in the back seat of the car as we are driving along saying things like "Daddy?" (pause) "I love you" (giggle giggle)…like a little game between them (although I can see my boyfriend becoming uncomfortable with it). Now I know he did have a rather traumatic separation from his ex but that was in the past. What worries me is that his daughter appears to be acting more like his girlfriend/lover than his daughter and trying to assert her authority over him. I have spoken to him about his daughter's "sexualization", as he really is quite naive in that respect, but I could really do with another perspective on this.

I had reason to speak with his daughter tonight (we share the same hobby and work vocation) and I just tentatively but kindly dropped into the conversation that I loved her Dad and I was there for him. Her reply was that before I came along, and during the early days of the split, she "looked after" her Dad and then all of a sudden, I appeared and he didn't look to her for support anymore. What I want to know is how to deal with this situation. I don't want to appear uncaring or inconsiderate to her or (for want of a better word) abandon my new partner and let his daughter take over. I am really at a bit of a loss as to how to deal with the situation - help please if you can!

How do I deal with (what appears to be) jealousy with my boyfriend's daughter?


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear Saz,

You are right to be concerned. The girl's behavior, as you describe it, indicates a very unhealthy sexualized attachment to her father. In the normal course of things, she should be interested in men who are unrelated to her, but her focus is on her father, and whether he responds in the same way or not, there is a danger that she will never be able to form a satisfying relationship with anyone else.

You have no power to directly change the situation. The only person who can do so is the girl's father.

I find it somewhat difficult to believe that a man would not be aware of the sexual intent of the kinds of actions you've described, but people are complex beasties. He may be in complete denial about it, because it must feel nice, and he probably interprets these actions as just daughterly love. Interactions between them that were completely appropriate before puberty continued after, and he may not have had the insight to realize their implications.

At the same time, he chose to have a lady friend. He chose you. This implies to me that the sexual attachment is one way: if they had anything approaching an incestuous relationship, he would not have been interested in other women.

It is in the girl's interest that her father should take action to help her to focus her sexuality into a more appropriate direction. She may find it hurtful and rejecting if he sets up a lot of new rules, and will probably blame you for the change. However, unless this happens, she is likely to have far more hurt in her future. Both she and he need to realize this. I suggest you again have a talk with him, and encourage him to work with her, using the services of a psychologist.

Good luck,


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:


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