My 19-year-old daughter moved out of our home in May and is living with a man 10 years older than her. For many reasons, we believe she may have a sexual addiction. We would like to bring up this idea of addiction with her but want to do it in the best, most loving way. Any ideas how we can encourage her to consider this possibility of addiction when she lives far away from us?

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Thank you for asking your question. Your question is about your 19-year-old daughter who's moved out and living with a man 10 years older. Your concern is that she might she might have a sexual addiction. You do have some regular positive communication with her, it's, but it's pretty surfacy. She accuses you of being judgey when you do try to talk about things. So as I look at your question, you want to do it in a loving way. You want to talk with her in loving ways, what I'm hearing you say. But if you bring up the concept of addiction, which you want to, you're sure she's going to deny it and to just tell you that her behaviors are normal. Any ideas? This is your earlier question, how we can encourage you to consider this possibility of addiction when she lives far from us, 800 miles away, and we feel we have little or no leverage? We don't want to say the wrong thing and lose the opportunity all together. So I'm going to suggest, first and foremost, your last part of this, that we might have little or no leverage, is probably the most accurate right now.

Sometimes our ability to influence is minimal, and when it's minimal, our opportunity is also minimal, to say things. So, low leverage means that we need more understanding, more awareness, and helping them understand that we want to be there for them. If you, if you have more leverage you, you feel more connection, then you have more leverage.

At this point, I'm going to suggest that most anything you say will probably be minimized, put down, or she will feel judged. So I would focus, and that, this is a you got to put this in the long-term perspective, as a parent, saying, we want to be able to have influence long term, which means we have to understand, have a relationship now. It doesn't mean that you can't express concern but I probably wouldn't approach it from ad- diction. I would approach it from, especially if she's in a relationship with this person that's 10 years older than her, and she feels this love and she feels this, there's probably more information that you have about the sexual addiction in her sexual behaviors from the past that I'm not aware of. Regardless, what you might say to her, when you have the opportunity, is how can we develop a better relationship with you, your long ways away? We are concerned, but we don't we don't want to unduly influence. We don't want you to be angry at us, but we are concerned about you.

And, see if you can start with, we are concerned. I wouldn't necessarily go into the concept of addiction. I would go into the behaviors. I see that you're here and, I as parents, we don't know how to help. "Well, I don't need help Mom." Well, we just want you to know that we do care. We want to be here for you. And,  usually what happens in situations like this is, over time, they would come to recognize, that if you're consistently loving and kind and present, that when things hit rock bottom, they can come to you.

Your influence might not be this week, this month, this year. It might be in two or five years where you have the most opportunity to influence your daughter. Now, and the reason why I say that is because, low leverage is, you say, means that the more you say, the probably the less it's going to be heard and understood and taken to heart. It doesn't mean that you can't say we have concerns. Would it be okay if we shared some of those with you or do you not want that kind of feedback. And, I wouldn't use the word addiction. I would just focus on some, maybe some, of the sexual things that you've observed and say "These things concern us and as parents we don't know what to do, or say, or if we should say anything at all, and we're just bringing it up because we love you, we care about you and, obviously, you're going to have to make your choices. But, but, I felt, we felt, like we needed to say something."

And that is how I would approach it. If you don't have leverage, I would focus more on the relationship and, as things progress, you'll probably have more opportunity because my guess is her life is, it's going to have many challenges, if that's truly the case. Now, one final part here as parents, it's hard because we feel like we need to say something, we need to do something. Sometimes the best things that we do, we don't say or we don't do. We just gather information, help them feel heard and understood and loved, and when we can have influence, is when we do bring things up, and we do it because we love them. And, so right now you're gonna have to understand if I have no leverage how can I communicate that I do love her, I want her to feel understood, but I do have these concerns. And, I would focus again specific behaviors, and I wouldn't use the word addiction. I would use the term, you know, I've noticed these sexual things going on. Just trying to understand them. Well, thank you for your question and I appreciate you taking the time.

Hopefully this will give you some ideas.

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