Do You Choose Men Like Your Father? Why That Can Be Good & Bad

June 1, 2012  |  
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If you think your father plays no role in whom you choose to date, then you’re in denial. Your father is the first man you observe from the moment you are born, and the one you observe most intensely throughout your entire life—this is even true if you never knew him. Absent-father syndrome also affects whom you choose to be with. So, whether you try to date men just like your father, the polar opposite, or pick and choose the traits you like about him, he’s always in the back of your head when choosing a partner. And that can be a good thing, or a bad thing.

Your impressions are stuck

Was your father always absent because of his job as a businessman? Or a “free spirited” man who pursued his passions over a higher paying job that would actually pay the mortgage? What about a stay at home dad, who took on the maternal role while your mother wore the power panties and made the money? No one is perfect, but you have to understand that your strongest impressions of your father were formed before you had many skills to psycho analyze human beings. Even now, if you met your dad as a complete stranger, you wouldn’t judge him as harshly and you would using the skills you’ve garnered throughout your life to see the whole picture of somebody. That’s not an option. You’ve already known him your whole life. What does that mean?


You compartmentalize

All the negative aspects that come along with being a businessman/ free spirited hippie/ stay-at-home-dad or whatever your dad was—subconsciously you might think that those will always exist with a man who wears that certain hat. You might instantly turn from every businessman thinking he’ll be emotionally distant and geographically distant, or run from any musician/hippie thinking he’s irresponsible and unable to provide. The negative sides of your father or so deeply engrained in you via watching your mother struggle with them, that they’re triggered anytime you see someone who simply looks on the surface like your father. And this can be limiting because, not every businessman/ musician/ stay at home dad is the same.

The reverse is true too…

You might have positive associations with what your father was on the surface. Maybe he was a wonderful, emotionally and physically present and responsible father. You might constantly seek out men who did what your dad did for a living, or who had the same types of interests or came from a similar background. And you might find yourself constantly disappointed. Those positive associations can be so strong though, that sometimes you may stay with a man much longer than you should, because you’re not seeing him for who he is. You want so badly to see your father in him—the good things you expected to be in this man—that you wait for them, or even imagine they are there.

The trick is to understand what lies beneath

Say for example you always pursue powerful businessmen because your father was one and you had a great relationship with him, and he did with your mother. You have to consider what traits really made him a good father and partner. What did being a businessman really mean? It probably meant he had a sense of responsibility, that he was ambitious, that he was curious about the world and meeting and working with new people. That is what made him a good partner to your mother. Not the fact that he packed a briefcase every day and took business calls at all hours. Learn to differentiate between the surface traits and the inner workings of someone. Again, those positive associations with a businessman/ musician/ stay at home dad are so deeply engrained in you, they could jade your perspective on someone.

Does your mom play the victim?

If your parents divorced, your dad left, your dad cheated, or for some reason your mom just doesn’t like the guy—and you ended up in her custody or spending the most time with her—you might form a biased opinion of him. Maybe he did cheat, maybe he left, and maybe he was mean to your mom. But, think about it this way: you probably know certain couples today that have problems, but to you, who the good guy and the bad guy is is not black and white. Why? Because you met these people at a time in your life when you had developed skills to analyze people—their behaviors, their motives, and their mentality. If you’ve been fed the idea since childhood that your dad is “bad,” it can be hard to shake that and you don’t really apply your analytical skills to him—your opinion of him was set in stone at a young age. Like with point #1, you might start to only associate negative traits with your father’s surface traits, because the negative is all your mother talks about.


Do you know you can break free?

Many women live out self-fulfilling prophesies in love by living out the same situation they saw their parents live out. If your mother and father were not emotionally intimate or very communicative, you might take on the mentality, “That’s just how it is between men and women” and accept that dynamic in your own relationship, assuming that there’s nothing better out there. What’s even more dangerous is that, you’re comfortable around the type of relationship you grew up around—that of your parents. So, when you get into a situation similar to your parents—maybe there is verbal abuse, maybe you’re not communicative, maybe you have to constantly keep on eye on him so he keeps it in his pants—you subconsciously take comfort in the situation. You’re familiar with this dynamic. But you have to know: it does NOT have to be the way it was with your parent’s. You’re giving up all of your power and you’re not giving your own abilities to analyze situations and people enough credit by believing things have to be the way they were with your parents.

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