Dating sites, strangers and sex

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-13-2006
Dating sites, strangers and sex
12
Thu, 09-13-2012 - 12:56pm

My DD is a 20 yo junior at a highly selective university.  She is exceptionally book-smart but really lacks any common sense at all.  I have passwords to many of her accounts because I feel the need to keep an eye on her.  I know that snooping is controversial..... and I don't snoop on my other 3 kids..... but I don't feel that I have a choice with her.  DD joined an online dating site several months ago.  In the past 3 weeks, she has invited strange men to her apartment or taken cabs to theirs in the middle of the night.  These are men that she has talked to no more than 10 minutes online who want to meet for sex and "smoking a bowl".  I am very fearful that she is putting herself at great risk.  I told her that I had seen her public profile on the dating site and that I embarrased by the profile she created.  She used her full, actual name on the site and has 3 pictures that are clearly her.  I told her that her profile will not attract the kind of men she should have anything to do with.    I stressed the danger of the site and disease and preganancy.  She said that she's never actually met anyone from the site.... which I know is a lie because I have the password to the account.  DD has suffered from depression / cutting in the past.  She see a counselor at school (or at least she says she does).  I said that I wanted the name of her counselor and wanted to either meet with the counselor or have email/phone contact.  I said that I'm concerned about her poor decision making and risk taking.  She refuses to give me this information.  DH refuses to pay her $700 rent (which is due tomorrow) until she provides a name.  Earlier this summer, DD was hired from a prestigious research position on campus because she was caught stealing.  DD has gained 50 pounds over the course of a year and a half.  I think that there is something wrong mentally and I think she needs help.  So.... what would you do in this situation?  Would you withold the rent?  Do you think I'm pushing too hard?  Thanks for reading! I'm at wits end.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Sun, 09-16-2012 - 5:49pm

I was also thinking that if someone wants casual sex, surely there are plenty of guys on campus who would be willing to oblige--in most college campuses today, finding someone to have sex with is pretty easy, so why bother to even go on line?  Don't have an answer for that one--unless she knows mom is monitoring her stuff & wants to freak her out, or she is sending a warning sign that she needs help.  Unfortunately making her take her profile down on one site is not solving the problem, since there are many OLD sites--some are well known, but there are also many "niche" sites.  And why would someone who has a paying job need to steal food?

Yes, my niece just graduated from college but seems to have some issues--nothing has ever been said by her parents about what those issues are but I'm thinking some sort of Aspergers because she seems very bright but socially just different, shall we say.  They haven't allowed her to get a driver's license.  Right now she is taking some classes at the local CC and living at home so someone can drive her to school.  She hasn't had a job yet.  It's not the parents since their older DD went away to college, graduated, had a driver's license and worked part time--so the parents recognized that she was not ready for these responsibilities.

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Sun, 09-16-2012 - 2:12pm

<<<...another sign that she is going down a self (destructive) path...>>>  BINGO.  This kid couldn't be be waving self-harm warning signs any plainer than if she tattooed them on her forehead.  This kid isn't meeting men in lonely places and having one-night stands because she doesn't know better.  Intelligence has NOTHING to do with mental and/or emotional disorders.  The smartest kid can and WILL commit suicide.  And I also totally agree that the information the OP found by snooping, places her in the very difficult position of not being able to act on it without revealing just how badly she has broken trust.  If *my* dd had gained a tremendous amount of weight by what I KNEW was drinking--and she was underage--and she had been fired from a job for stealing FOOD--I would not have let her out of my sight, much less sent her away to school.  And I would have BEGGED her to go to the Pdoc, and to let me sit in on some sessions, as well as getting counseling for myself.

My dds were ADD/ODD/OCD; I requested they commute to college--and they agreed.  They knew they were more at risk than the average bear, and that if they were home, Dh & I could better help them, if necessary.  I did not need to spy on them, or hack into their accounts--I just needed to be able to SEE them, to figure out if they were in trouble.  And they did have their problems, especially YDD, but we were able to intervene before the whole thing went pear-shaped. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Sun, 09-16-2012 - 1:09pm

I read this last night but was too tired to respond but something is really wrong here.  If I had an "adult" child who I felt needed some kind of monitoring because of behavioral issues then I don't know if I'd send that child away to school where she couldn't be monitored, but instead of you sneaking behind her back, I think maybe you should have an honest talk with her & tell her about your concerns and ask her for her passwords.  Because now you have this info that shows that your DD is doing something dangerous & you don't how how to use that info.  Based on the fact that she is actually doing something that could be life threatening, I think you should confess & tell her what you did & what you found out.  Of course she'll be mad but she needs a dose of realtiy.  It would be like a high school mom who reads the kid's diary or Facebook and finds out the kid is using drugs--I don't condone snooping in most circumstances but if someone does snoop & finds out their kid is in danger, then they can't just stand by & do nothing either.  As a veteran of on line dating, I would know better than to meet a stranger in a private place.  Of course I'm looking for normal dating and not a one night stand which it seems is what your DD is looking for.  I don't get why she has no concept that meeting up with a stranger could result in a lot more than an STD.  Most kids in high school know enough not to give out personal info to strangers.  If someone wants to do OLD they should always have the first meeting in a public place & take their own car and not give out a lot of personal info.  I think I would not withhold the rent but I'd end up going further.  I'd probably tell her that if she continued to show these signs that she was not making good decisions and was too immature to be living on her own, that I wouldn't continue to pay for college--I'd make her come home and live there so she could be supervised until she demonstrated better decision making.  You also say later on that she gained weight cause of a lot of drinking & partying.  Now my DD was no angel when it came to drinking but she still did well in school & the drinking didn't interfere with going to class or anything like that.  I imagine that if your DD is exceptionally smart she may still be able to do well in school--but the partying also is another sign that maybe she is going down a self destrictive path.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-13-2006
Fri, 09-14-2012 - 1:34pm

Well, DD's rent is due today.  I received a heartfelt email from her this morning... finally.... and she has agreed to sit down and talk on Sunday with DH and me.  She admitted that her profile on the dating website... where she's been meeting the men... was "embarassing" and she has changed it.  Her rent money will depend on the meeting on Sunday.  I don't need  her to go go into details about her meetings with strangers, but I do need her to own up to the behavior.  I am going to insist that she delete the dating site profile and remain off the sites as a condition for financial support.  She also said that she would like to resume the weight watcher meetings.  Hopefully she is sincere and not just saying what she thinks I want to hear.  She really needs to focus on school and grades for the next quarter and I think I will make her sign a "contract" that ties grades and the apartment together (thanks for that suggestion BTW.... great idea!!)  She is in a sorority at school so should have enough social opportunities to meet males without a dating website.  She still insists that she is in counseling now.... again I don't know if I believe that..... but we will discuss this on Sunday also.  Wish me luck.... say a prayer for me.... uggg  I'm nervous for Sunday. Thanks for the advice and opinions!  I appreciate them !!

 

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Fri, 09-14-2012 - 11:00am

You didn't answer how you knew that your dd had actually met up with any of these men, but we'll assume that you are correct. Of all of the things you mentioned the behavior with the unknown men is the most dangerous with potential for life threatening consequences. Since you have other kids you presumably have a sense of what degree of risky behavior is more typical for teens/young adults; IMO meeting the strange men is beyond that. Any of her behaviors taken on its own, as a one-time lapse in judgement, might be normal but when you put all of her actions together it sounds like a mental health issue that requires treatment, possibly more than she can get from a counselor at the university student health center. I don't know that moving her to the dorms is much of an improvement, while it would be more difficult to bring strange men into a dorm room it wouldn't stop her from going to meet them. 

I would probably insist, as a condition of my continued financial support for university, that she submit to a workup from a psychiatrist to see if she has a mental health disorder. You mentioned a history of depression and cutting so maybe she already has a relationship with a doctor, or maybe find somebody new especially if you feel like her previous treatment was not aggressive enough. The poor decision making/impulsiveness/sexualized behavior can all go together in a disorder which may have not been apparent at the time of her earlier treatment. The psychiatrist might put her on meds and will likely require therapy sessions for a while either with himself and/or a therapist. You can ask to be included in some sessions; in fact you should be included sometimes since the family dynamic often plays a role in the overall situation. As others mentioned you might want to have some sessions of your own or with your dh to learn how to deal with your dd and if anything you are doing is aggravating the situation etc. Ideally you would meet with the same therapist that she sees so s/he has an overview of the entire situation. 

Whether you ought to move your dd back home and have her commute, or allow her to stay in her college town depends on how compliant she will be regarding taking meds and going to therapy appointments, and even whether she accepts that there's something outside the realm of normal in her behavior. At this point I wouldn't withhold the rent money, so she has someplace to live for the coming month. Since her housing situation is changing due to roommates this is an ideal time to make a change of some sort, assuming she can get out of her lease.

In the case of a normal CS I would say that the snooping, hacking, etc is too intrusive. In your case I suspect that you know in your gut that something is not right and has not been for some time, and that's why you are taking actions that you don't do with your other kids. By age 20 we would hope that we can step back and let them make their own choices, but sometimes we do need to save our kids from themselves.

Best of luck in this.

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-19-2006
Fri, 09-14-2012 - 8:24am
Welcome to the board. I read your post and it sounds so complicated it is really tough to give any advice. I can tell you that I really feel for you though. It sounds as if your daughter is suffering from some sort of mental illness and that she needs help. Her behavior sounds very scary to me. It must be making you very nervous. All I can suggest is that you and your husband get some professional help to get some good advice. Sometimes you are just too close to the problem to see things clearly and another set of eyes can see things in a fresh light. It would be great if dd would go to the counselor with you, but it doesn't sound like that is going to happen. Hugs, robin
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-25-2006
Fri, 09-14-2012 - 7:33am

I'd make her commute if she wants to continue at school.  Her behaviors are too risky for her to be left unsupervised.  If she breaks the lease, she should have to pay the resultant costs, assuming she chose the apartment.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-13-2006
Fri, 09-14-2012 - 12:18am

Thanks for the feedback.  We live about and hour from the school, so commuting would be a possibility.... although I would prefer that she live on campus and live the college life.  The situation was either further complicated this afternoon, when I found out that her current apartment-mate (a close friend) ismoving out to live with a BF and has sublet her half of the apartment to a foregin exchange male student that my daughter has never even met.  This makes me feel better about potentialy breaking the lease or sub-letting as my daughter doesn't know a thing about this new roomate.  As of right now, I am leaning towards making her move back into the dorms.  As for the passwords.... I hacked them.  I don't believe that either me or my husband have mental or control issues.  I view my $60K college bill as an investment and I feel that I have a right to know what my DD is up to.  I have always known all my kids passwords and if DD does not have enough common sense to know that then I don't feel that is my concern.  I would do anything to keep my kids safe.  I might not have the same view on privacy as some other board members,.... but I'm not mentally unstable.  DD has gained 50 pounds by drinking and partying the summer away.  We joined weight watchers together in the begining of the summer and DD procedded to gain 8 more pounds in 4 weeks.  As for being fired.... it was for stealing food from the fridg at work.  Her job, was in medical research and she as paid well.  She was required to pay her own summer living expenses including rent, but I picked up these bills when she was fired.  She now has another job but she doesn't make enough money to support herself.    Finally, my name is NOT on the lease and she has no assets at all. 

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Thu, 09-13-2012 - 9:37pm

Can you please clarify a few things: How did you get the passwords to the different accounts? How do you know for certain that she met up with the strange men? Do you have any agreements with her regarding grades, behavior, etc for you to continue to support her? What % of her college expenses are you paying? Finally, how far from your home is the university and how often does she come home or you go to visit her?

I have some specific suggestions in mind, depending on how you answer the above questions, so it would be helpful to have these answers before trying to advise you.

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Thu, 09-13-2012 - 5:10pm

There are a host of red flags here.  Did you hack into your dd's computer to get her passwords, or did your dd give them to you?  If she gave you the passwords to her accounts, then she KNOWS you are looking at them, and is probably doing outrageous things deliberately.  If you hacked and are spying, then that is an unforgivable level of snooping and control of a 20yo.  Since she gained 50 lbs over the course of a year and a half, THAT should have been reason enough to suspect something was wrong, without snooping.  It would have been easy, and appropriate, OVER THE SUMMER to say to her, "I'm worried you have a hormonal or endocrine disorder.  Why don't you let me set up a drs appointment for you?"  Demanding to talk to her counselor, and holding her rent hostage, is also out of line.  ASKING is the way to go, and if she refuses, that's an end of it, because she is of age.

Did you ask her why she stole?  What did she steal?  Was the position paid or unpaid?  Does she earn any money on her own, or do you control her money?  Perhaps the  "...highly selective university..." and the "...prestigious research position..." are/ were too much stress for her.  Perhaps she is doing this as a way to get into a different uni.  Perhaps she is doing all this as a way to lash out at you and your husband, for being too controlling and invasive.  Have you talked to her about any of this while she was home, and you were face to face?

I think the first thing you should do, is get some counseling for you and your husband, to help you learn how to deal with your fears, while still observing appropriate limits. 

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