Your father and you

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Fathers and usIt’s Fathers’ Day and of course we would like to thank our dear dads for everything they have meant to those of us lucky enough to have a half-way decent dad – or one at all for that matter.

But our fathers aren’t just good for fixing our cars (or paying for it to be fixed) or bailing us out when our first pay cheque doesn’t quite cover the credit card debt we’ve accumulated. Or getting up to their knees in human poop as my Old Man did when the first flat I moved into had a horribly blocked plumbing situation. As any amateur psychologist can tell you, your relationship with your father has a powerful impact on many aspects of your life from your body image, self-confidence and romantic relationships to how well you get on at work. According to Dr Meg Meeker, author of the bestselling book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, “The biggest mistake dads make is not understanding their significance.”

Your father and your romantic relationships
A daughter’s first relationship with any man is usually with her father and that relationship will affect all other relationships, especially romantic ones. Unfortunately, we often repeat what we know rather than what we want or know is good for us – we like familiarity and so we will choose a man who feels familiar to us (by the way he treats us like our father does or did), even if he treats us badly and the relationship is unhealthy.

Several branches of psychology (especially Imago Therapy) will tell you that we tend to unconsciously pick partners who resemble our fathers psychologically, behaviourally or emotionally. We do this so that we can (unconsciously) work through our childhood wounds and unresolved issues. According to Imago Therapy, because we are born in relationship, and are wounded in relationship (by our imperfect parents), healing can only occur in relationship.

But obviously, if your dad was emotionally distant and barely registered your existence, choosing a similar man isn’t going to heal any wounds if he doesn’t change. And let me give you some advice: don’t ever (EVER) wait for a man to change. You cannot change anyone. YOU CANNOT CHANGE ANYONE. The only person you can change is yourself – and we all know how hard that is!

Alarmingly, it turns out that women who have good relationships with their fathers are inclined to pick men who resemble their fathers physically. Don’t want to think about that one too closely, if you don’t mind. Eek!

Not only does our relationship with our father influence who we choose for our romantic partnerships, it affects how we relate to those partners. So if your father expected his little princess to look after him, for example, then you will find yourself looking after the other men in your life, usually to your detriment.

Awareness is key
So if we are drawn to men who are like our imperfect fathers, and who carry their patterns, how are we to heal those childhood wounds if we just keep repeating the same harmful patterns? Well, awareness is key. When we see our patterns and begin to understand them, we can break them and choose men who are good for us (and who deserve us).

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  1. Glamista

    So true! Thanks for this article!

    5 years ago •

  1. AmyR

    “The biggest mistake dads make is not understanding their significance.” This is SO true!

    5 years ago •

  1. Talia

    So true! I am so grateful to have my dad in my life

    5 years ago •

  1. Talia

    So true! I am so grateful to have my dad in my life

    5 years ago •

  1. Tundee

    Lost my dad at the age of 14… That alone damaged me in more ways then I could ever imagine. Even staying in relationship for too long scares me, I mean how weird is that?

    5 years ago •

  1. Riekie

    My dad is no longer with us, but my father-in-law is fantastic! Thanks dad!

    5 years ago •

  1. Funindawo

    wow. very good article, and this is so true.

    5 years ago •

  1. RoseAngel

    My husband and my dad are like day and night! But I must say I adore my dad and my husband

    5 years ago •

  1. Noni

    My dad has set the bar pretty damn high-but I do agree on dating men who physically resemble by dad-I never thought of it that way!

    5 years ago •

  1. fay

    very alarming when you think about it!

    5 years ago •

  1. SG

    I agree with this completely!! Very grateful for my dad and my hubby.

    5 years ago •

  1. TJK

    A very interesting read. As you said, awareness is key. Maybe one can shift one’s focus to the good character traits of our parents…

    5 years ago •

  1. DIVA

    Wow very nice article, I agree with some of the things.

    5 years ago •

  1. Carlene

    Very true! If you have a good father, value him – I lost my dad three years ago and the gap it has left in my life will never be filled (it just get’s a little easier each day to live with).

    I told my dad often how much I loved him and spent time with him and even so I feel like I could have done more – for those of you with fathers in your lives go give him a hug (just because) and take the time to sit down for a bit and talk (just about small stuff) – you have no idea how much you will miss it once you can’t do it anymore!

    5 years ago •

  1. Ayesh

    Very thought-provoking article. I’ll know what to look out for now.

    5 years ago •

  1. Ladyconfused

    Very interesting, never really thought about that till I got married.

    5 years ago •

  1. CindyBotha

    This is very true and gave me a lot of insight…
    Hmmm pondering away…

    5 years ago •

  1. Simimano

    Some good advice there :) Sometimes things aren’t just sunshine and rainbows. Thanks for the article!

    5 years ago •

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