“My Daughter Is Leading on A Guy Who Would Be Perfect for My Other Daughter”

My daughter was recently dumped by her boyfriend out of the blue when he joined the military. She has started talking to a couple of guys, one of whom seems like a great guy; he is older than she is and seems genuinely concerned for her and I think would patiently wait for her to get over her ex because he is looking for a long-term relationship. She, however, says he is a redneck; she’s not interested and will not go out with him, but she continues to text him and has made no attempt to tell him she’s not interested.

It makes me so sad as her mother to see her lead him on. She is also talking to another guy whom she has been hanging out with and I guess is attracted to. He is two years younger than she is, and I think it’s just a physical attraction and also loving the attention.

She is going to be leaving for college next year, and I think this is just fun while it lasts since her boyfriend dumped her. I really want her to tell the guy she thinks is a “redneck” that she doesn’t see it going further than a friendship so he can move on and find someone who wants to be with him. He is so kind to her! He would actually be perfect for my older daughter and closer in age.

My older daughter is not dating anyone and finds it hard to meet guys as she doesn’t party much and works and goes to school. I really think they might hit it off, but I know my older daughter would be worried he wouldn’t be interested because she isn’t the skinny little thing her sister is. My younger daughter doesn’t seem to care about leading someone on or care about someone’s feelings…except her own!

What do I do? Can I suggest she tell the “redneck” she just wants to be friends and suggest he meet her sister? — Concerned Mother of Two Daughters

What can you do? You can mind your business! Unless either of your daughters is asking you explicitly for relationship advice, you shouldn’t be offering any, and you sure as shit shouldn’t be trying to play matchmaker with one daughter and a guy who is into your other daughter. That’s a recipe for disaster! Seriously, you’re playing with fire here. The loathing you seem to feel for your “skinny little thing” younger daughter who “loves the attention” and “doesn’t care about someone’s feelings” is so evident throughout your letter that I have to assume it’s probably obvious in person, too. And your feelings of pity for both the “redneck” who is being led on by your seductress daughter who has the gall to text a boy she isn’t interested in dating, and your concern for your shyer older daughter who doesn’t meet as many guys because she doesn’t party like her wild-child sister is just… it’s a bit much.

Your daughters — and the guys who will inevitably cross their paths, either briefly or long-term — are greater than the sums of their parts. They are more than their behavior on this day or in this week, at 16 or 18 or 22. They are growing and maturing and evolving, and part of the process of evolution involves making mistakes, learning from them, and moving on. Part of maturing involves being hurt, and it involves seeing how one’s actions and behavior might hurt others. You have to let all these young people live their lives on their own. You have to let them make mistakes, get hurt, learn, and grow.

I know it’s hard when you love your kids to watch them: a) make assholes of themselves; b) get hurt; and c) hurt others. It’s hard to see them stand in their own way or to stand in the way of someone else, especially when that someone else is also a person you care about. But you have to let them travel down their own paths, get a little lost, and eventually find their way, otherwise they won’t truly learn, and, months or years from now when they have another hurdle in their path, they won’t know how to navigate it because they won’t have the well of personal history and the emotional strength to draw from to carry them through.

The most you can do as a mother who wants to provide some guidance for her young-adult daughters is to remind them of the golden rule: Treat others as you would want them to treat you. It’s a rule you might need reminding of, too. If you wouldn’t want someone meddling in your personal relationships, it’s time to give your daughters, who are at least teenagers by now, the same respect.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. artsygirl says:

    LW – it is entirely possible that ‘red-neck suitor’ would NOT be interested in your older daughter. He might like the age/body type/personality of your younger one which is why he is pursuing her. Children rarely date or marry the person their parents want them to, but since ultimately your younger daughter has the right to make personal decisions regarding who she dates.

  2. How do people (parents or anyone) EVER get the idea that it is their business to mess around in anyone’s relationships? Yeesh! LW, here a short list of what you don’t know: 1) Whether your 1st daughter is actually interested or not; 2) whether your second daughter would ever be interested; 3) whether he is in fact a good guy; 4) whether he is really looking for a longterm relationship or a booty call; 5)whether even if they are all good people they would be good for each other; 6) whether if they are good for each other that would lead to a relationship; 7) or a longterm relationship; 8) or marriage; 9) or a bitter divorce. So by all means wade in hip deep and let the fun begin. Update when neither of your daughters is talking to you anymore.

  3. It seems like you’re making a lot of assumptions here. The biggest one being that your children want you to help them find people to date. Wendy’s advice is great and hopefully you take it. I am going to guess that neither daughter is going to appreciate any opinion you give in regards to this.

  4. Avatar photo call-me-hobo says:

    So if the math is right- your younger daughter at is in the 16-17 year-old range, and the suitor you’re fond of is probably in his early 20s? And he’s sniffing around a high schooler? And you’re concerned HE’S the one that’s going to get hurt??
    No wonder she’s enjoying the attention from young men- it doesn’t seem like you have her well-being at heart. It honestly doesn’t even sound like you like her.
    ALSO- you are a grown-ass woman who is getting caught up in the petty relationship drama of teenagers. I get wanting to like the person your daughter dates, but you are hardcore meddlesome.

    1. RedRoverRedRover says:

      And the other dude she likes is 14-15? I hope she’s just late going off to college, and is more like a 19 year old talking to a 17 year old and 21 year old. Because otherwise, yeah, those ages are off. A few years makes a big difference when you’re 16.

      1. Hard to follow, but I’m guessing the daughter is recently or about to turn 18 and a senior, and her ex probably graduated last year. That would make the “redneck” and the older sister 20-21 and the younger guy 15-16. It’s not super squicky or predatory in any of these age ranges, but there is a huge difference in my experience between a HS student and a college student.

  5. I’m guessing your younger daughter is a senior in high school. She’s young. She’s allowed to make mistakes. Let her figure out what kind of person she wants to be and let her learn and grow. You can guide her, as Wendy mentioned, by reminding her to be kind to others. You can also lead by example.
    I’m guessing your older daughter is early 20s. Again, let her figure out her own life. She will. There is nothing wrong with a late bloomer and having a boyfriend isn’t everything.
    As an aside, your disdain for your daughter’s body is seething in this letter. I have two other sisters. I’m the oldest. And I’m the “skinny” one, growing up with chicken legs and all. I’m maybe 5 llbs heavier now at 35 than I was at 15. Let me tell you how annoying it is to hear my little sister call me skinny bitch…all the time. It sucks. And it’s not my fault I happened to be born like this. Just like it’s not your daughters fault she was born with skinny legs. It’s genetics. Get over it.

    1. RedRoverRedRover says:

      I read it the other way. That the older sister is heavier and self-conscious about it, and the mom knows that. Not that she thinks the younger sister is not attractive because she’s thin. In fact it seems like she DOES think the younger sister is the more attractive one.

      1. I guess I just didn’t like her “skinny little thing” phrase and I’m probably projecting.

        It’s not the daughter’s fault she’s a skinny little thing! It’s genetic!

      2. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        I thought the same as you. I think the mom resents the younger daughter for being skinnier than her older sister and assumes the guys like her better for that reason. I think her attitude will come through clearly to both daughters and harm both. Her attitude is that guys can’t like the older daughter because she is too heavy and too studious and can’t possibly meet one on her own. She’s saying the older daughter is too fat and has no social skills. That will undermine the older daughter’s confidence. Her opinion about the younger daughter is that she doesn’t deserve the attention that the guys give her and should think more about her sister and direct her potential suitors to the older sister. She considers one too fat and one too selfish.

      3. Ele4phant says:

        I mean either angle you look at it is bad – the mom clearly thinks one daughter is physically more attractive than the other, and given her propensity for meddling, her daughters both know it. That can’t be good for either of their psyches.

      4. Def some body issues here from the mom. For sure.

      5. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Yeah, I’m the skinny one too, and in my case I was the one guys didn’t want in highschool. Also people would constantly be shocked that I was the older one. You could literally see them compare my chest to my sister and try to figure out how that was possible. They’d look back and forth, and then “YOU’RE the older one?”. It was horrible. We don’t all have huge boobs, people!!!!
        Anyway, all you have to do is get an office job, have babies, turn 40, and be addicted to chocolate and wine. That’s what I did. Solved my “too skinny” problem for good. 🙂

    2. Bittergaymark says:

      Boy, are you projecting here. It’s quite obvious that mom here equates skinny with hot and that the reason the older daughter is — well, a spinster is that she is a bit hefty.
      Strange letter. But rarely is ANY ONE male or female interested in the less hot, more stick in the mud sibling after they have clearly been pursuing the family 10.

      1. People project from their own experience all the time. I even said I did and explained why I did. But thank you for reminding me and calling me out. I mean, I couldn’t possibly evolve my thinking from my gut reaction when RedRover pointed out a different take on the letter.

      2. Bittergaymark says:

        Yikes! Is EVERYTHING always an attack on you? Are you THAT fragile? Jesus… Good Lord — there is so much else I could say — but why bother?

      3. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        She obviously does think the skinnier daughter is better looking but the way she made the comment it sounded like an insult to the younger daughter. She is insulting both of them.

  6. Ele4phant says:

    Yikes woman, you are way too invested in your daughters’ personal and romantic lives. Just take two giant steps back and leave it all alone.

    I do think if you think your younger daughter is being a major asshole to this guy, you can tell her that, once. I don’t think it’s out of line to remind the person you raised their acting outside the values you tried to instill in them. But after that one conversation, leave it alone.

    Also, this guy she’s leading on, he’s a grown man. If he has any social intelligence, he’ll figure it out soon enough that his attraction is unrequited; neither you or anyone else needs to step in for him to protect him.

  7. Avatar photo Guy Friday says:

    Can we also point out that even if you DID separate the two of them AND you played matchmaker that — setting aside physical/emotional/intellectual attraction — the guy may be completely uninterested in the older sister because, you know, SHE’S HER SISTER? Honestly, I’ve been in that situation once before where I pursued one sister who was uninterested in me, and even though the other sister was interested after that didn’t work out and made it clear, and even though objectively she was attractive to me, I couldn’t act on it because it just felt weird and creepy to me, like it looked like it was more about getting with A sister in that family than getting with THE sister, you know? And assuming it worked out, you having to see the sister who spurned you at family events, at a wedding . . I mean, it’s weird to most guys is all.

    1. shakeourtree says:

      I was thinking the inverse. There’s a possibility the older sister wouldn’t want to go out with the guy now knowing he’s attracted to the little sister. I HATE IT when a guy hits on one of my friends and then tries to hit on me later after he’s shot down. I can’t even imagine if it were my sister!

  8. Wendy’s first couple sentences is EXACTLY what I thought as I read the letter. Wow.
    Your daughter is what 17, 18? You should be thanking your lucky stars that she is not jumping into anything serious right away after breaking it off with what was probably her “high school sweetheart.” Some harmless flirting with this guy is not a big deal.
    Honestly, it seems like you are pushing both your daughters to find a guy and settle down ASAP. Sure some people do meet their lifelong partner in high school, but many others don’t meet that person until college or even post-college. They are both young, in that respect, and both have plenty of time. So back off, and let them live.

  9. I didn’t read Wendy’s advice yet, but my very first thought is to mind your business, lady! Get your nose out of your daughters’ dating lives. Controlling, much? Also, maybe encourage the fact that your older daughter is focusing on school rather than dating. I know I wasted far too much time and energy chasing boys when I was in my late teens, when I would have benefited from directing that energy on my studies. That said, your younger daughter could use the same encouragement if you can manage to do it in a non-controlling way.

  10. If all she does is text the older guy – then how do you know what kind of fit he is for anyone? He is allowed to like who he likes. Your younger daughter as well. If the “redneck” is not getting what he wants out of his relationship with a HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT – he will move on. It’s not your job to protect his feelings. Or to give one daughter’s cast off male friends to your other daughter. I don’t buy you are oh so worried about the guy’s feelings. It is just your in to pass him off on your other daughter. These are people we are talking about…not hand me down clothes. So just stop. It does sounds like your biggest worry is your eldest daughter’s social life. But if she is studying and working then good for her. Sounds like she is doing exactly what she is supposed to do. She will date when she wants to. Partying is not the only way to meet boys – or girls – and her timing doesn’t have to match up with your timing or your other daughter’s timing to finding someone. If she has asked for advice on meeting men then you can give her some – online/volunteering to find like minded people/etc – but it shouldn’t include poaching from her sister or scooping up her leftovers. WTF.

    1. Yeah the more I read things the more I feel bad for the older daughter. She’s gotta be what, 21ish? Studying and focusing on school, and here’s mom who a) thinks she’s fat and b) thinks she’s going to die alone because she hasn’t found a dude. Goodness. Did PrincetonMom write this?

      *If you’re not familiar with Princeton Mom, you can read here: http://dailyprincetonian.com/opinion/2013/03/letter-to-the-editor-advice-for-the-young-women-of-princeton-the-daughters-i-never-had/ and here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/06/susan-patton-advice_n_4907116.html But at your own risk. This gives me a rage headache. I struggle to express in words how much I hate this woman.

      1. I, too, detest that woman. THANK GOODNESS she didn’t have daughters!!

    2. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      I was thinking this too. The redneck potential boyfriend is an adult male chasing a teenage girl so the probability is high that he’s interested in sex and not a long term relationship. Luckily the younger daughter isn’t going for it. The older daughter would probably be mortified to find that mom is trying to set her up with her younger sister’s rejects. That would be absolutely humiliating. If the guy is attracted to the skinny party girl type then he won’t be attracted to the heavier, studious type. You can’t force him to be attracted no matter how much you love the older daughter and no matter how perfect you think they would be. If he isn’t attracted they aren’t perfect, they aren’t even slightly compatible. Think about it, he’s attracted to a party type girl so the odds are very high he’s looking for sex.
      The attitude toward the younger daughter is sad. You seem to think she isn’t as deserving of attention from guys as her older sister. Your attitude alone may be what drives her to seek out attention away from home. If you are constantly negative or disapproving and the guys tell her how great she is she’ll keep going back for more because she needs positive attention in her life. If you keep it up she will end up cutting you out of her life or moving away and having little to do with you.

  11. They only semi-legitimate concern I could see her having is the minor daughter texting with the older man, but she seems totally fine with that!

  12. I think some of the comments on this one might be too harsh, to an extent. My advice is to stay out of both of their romantic lives. Teenagers typically are very self-centered, that’s pretty normal. So your younger daughter talking to multiple guys and potentially leading them on is not surprising. There’s two concerns I would have regarding her – is the older guy too old (if she’s 17-18, anything older than 21-22 would be questionable) and is she purposely leading this guy on to viciously toy with him? It sounds like she’s just out there, seeing what’s available, and frankly, she would be better off going to college with a clean slate anyway.

    Leave your older daughter out of this – while you can have opinions on who she dates (which should be kept to yourself unless there’s something harmful going on), she probably is ok with concentrating on school and getting through her studies. If she says she is having a hard time meeting people, suggest that maybe she get involved with some student groups, join a study group, etc.

    As for the skinny little thing comment – I personally read this as a back handed insult to your older daughter.

  13. It sounds to me like the LW is of the generation/culture that thinks ‘finding a man’ is the most important thing a young woman can do. I knew someone like this, the mother of a childhood friend. She was desperately worried that her youngest (22) wasn’t married yet. Obsessed, even. Genuinely frightened for her. It was the only thing that mattered. She thought it was bizarre that I had managed to get out of college without acquiring a husband, and that I wasn’t in a hurry to do so, and that my mother wasn’t upset about it.
    I think that may be what’s going on here…the LW is wanting the younger daughter to stop wasting her time a relationship that’s not going anywhere so can get on with finding ‘the’ guy, and she thinks she can just take this random guy and plug him into her older daughter’s life.

  14. for_cutie says:

    I feel bad for the daughters. I bet the LW never thought about how they would feel if they read this letter from their mother. I would be crushed if I were either one. I think the LW needs to take some perspective on how judgmental she is about her daughters and consider changing her ways if she wants genuine relationships with them as adult women.

    1. RedRoverRedRover says:

      +1. They *will* be adults in the very near future, and at least one of them is already technically one (although I think most of us don’t consider you fully adult while you’re still in school, unless it’s a second degree or something). Is this how she plans to see them the rest of their lives? Because they’re going to start making very major solutions soon, and her role is to be supportive and give advice when solicited, not to try to finagle it so she gets the results she would prefer for them.

  15. My question is how does the LW know who her daughter is texting and when, and how does she think she knows the redneck guy well enough to play matchmaker with him and her older daughter?
    I’m not a parent and so I don’t know what’s up with text monitoring nowadays, but LW, if you’re reading her texts or constantly asking who she is texting and what the conversation is about, please stop! Nothing good at all will come from monitoring your youngest’s social life.
    If she is volunteering all this info on her own, then be grateful that you have such an open relationship with your daughter. Please realize that you’re putting that openness at risk if you use that info for your own agenda.

  16. laurahope says:

    Just read this letter to my 16 year old son and his response was “This mom sounds like a jerk. A total jerk. I would smack her”. Well said.

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