FATHER IMAGE PLUS UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS EQUALS MR UNAVAILABLE

In part one I talked about my own very personal experience of dating men who were reflections of my father (and stepfather). A difficult subject, it’s something however that I knew I should talk about because so many women are affected by their father daughter relationships, and often, it’s not in the most positive way.

I explained about how we look for men to meet needs that our own fathers failed to meet.

Our experiences with our fathers can have us believing that we’ve been loved conditionally. In turn, we’ll look for that unconditional love that we always wanted from our fathers and coupled with the unrealistic expectations, create the wrong messages about ourselves with mistaken love habits.

When we do not love ourselves, we often love others unconditionally, placing unrealistic expectations and loving and trusting blindly even when there is evidence that suggests we need to roll back. We seek unconditional love from others because we want it to be reflected back.

I’ll love him unconditionally —> I will be there, stick to him like glue, accept boundary busting behaviour—> He will love me back unconditionally and because I turn a blind eye to his behaviour, he will turn a blind eye to my so-called flaws—> I will be accepted and validated and I will feel the love that’s been eluding me and I will like and love myself at last—> We can live happily ever after.

However unconditional love starts with yourself and it is not about loving people regardless and without basis.

Unconditional love of you is about loving and liking you irrespective of what is taking place around you. Regardless of what is taking place around you, you don’t internalise the external factors and keep a healthy sense of love of yourself so that your perception of you doesn’t get distorted. That and if you do love yourself without reserve, you won’t look for people to do and be things that you are not being and doing yourself, and you want look for unconditional love from unlikely sources.

Because of my experiences, I didn’t like or love myself very much and went out looking for love in all of the wrong places. I hurled myself into relationships and ‘loved’ without basis because I wanted to fill up that void in me.

The partners I chose were either not appropriate for a healthy relationship or even if they were halfway decent, my own internal dialogue meant I was suspicious, acted up, and felt it was too good to be true, so I sabotaged stuff and created my own self-fulfilling prophecy that confirmed everything I already believed about myself, love, and relationships:

I am unlovable.

I have flaws that will be discovered.

All men will leave me.

I don’t deserve to be loved.

All relationships are ambiguous and/or have high drama.

Every time something happened with a guy, it changed how I saw myself – this was because I bent, twisted, morphed, shape-shifted and adapted for every relationship, but also because I didn’t love myself so I internalised every experience and decided I was unlovable etc.

I didn’t like myself enough to be myself because I thought that would scare them off. That and I didn’t know who I was because I was whatever I thought each guy wanted me to be.

Often, women who are involved with emotionally unavailable men, Mr Unavailables, are afraid of abandonment and rejection, and inadvertently try to recreate aspects of their father daughter relationship with these men in a doomed self-fulfilling prophecy. But your father doesn’t have to have been absent – he could have been there but just emotionally unresponsive, or selective with his interaction, or busting your boundaries.

Typically if you find yourself recreating patterns based around your relationship with your father, it’s likely to be because:

Your father put his needs first to the detriment of you or your families experience.

Your father was self-involved.

Your father emotionally, sexually, or physically abused you.

Your father abandoned you or was fond of disappearing acts.

Your father may not have met his financial or family obligations.

Your father was unresponsive. You could have put a cardboard cut-out and you’d probably have got more response.

Your father was uncommunicative and undemonstrative.

Your father was communicative and demonstrative…but only when he had something negative to say or demonstrate.

Your father was ambiguous and non-commital.

Your father was very charming and a ladies man so there may have been cheating.

Your father was an alcoholic, gambler, sex addict or some sort of addict.

Your father may have actually been a great provider and there for all intents and purposes and assumed that it was job done – but did not provide emotionally.

Your father may have played you off your siblings or even your mother.

Your father may have totally made you work for his attention.

Your father may have been cruel enough to say something that led you to believe that you were responsible for his behaviour/him leaving.

You may have witnessed your father emotionally, sexually, or physically abuse your mother or siblings.

Your father may have left and you may have misguidedly felt responsible.

Your father may have started a relationship with someone else and your relationship changed with him.

These things and more will mean that the prime example of a man in your life will have given you some skewed perceptions about yourself, love, and relationships, which unchallenged, will affect:

Your values – Your fundamental beliefs about what you need to live authentically, what makes you feel good, bad, happy, sad, what’s right, wrong, and what you think about you, love, relationships, and life in general.

Your boundaries – if you’re used to having little or no boundaries with your father, you’ll likely repeat it with partners, or veer in the opposite direction and have more walls than Fort Knox.

How you emotionally connect - and also what you perceive as connecting. You’re likely to indulge in limited relationships with people that have a limited capacity to engage which means that you don’t risk yourself.

Empathy - You need empathy but may look for sympathy but may also find yourself involved with people who are lacking in empathy making them potentially cruel, distant, and unable to connect with where they have caused you pain. You may also find yourself inadvertently assuming victim status and avoiding accountability and responsibility.

Love, care, trust, and respect - Fundamentals that you need in a relationship for you to be happy and living congruent with your values and within your boundaries. They’re the basis of a healthy, good relationship and provide a foundation off which everything else can stem. If these are absent, your relationship will not prosper and is likely to be dangerous.

The healthy things that we should seek from our partners and relationships, are what we should ideally have had, albeit in a father/daughter dynamic. If you don’t have a reasonably healthy relationship with your father to draw upon, you will be:

Afraid of men leaving or withdrawing.

Chasing similar partners.

Trying to right the wrongs of the past.

Trying to gain the validation that you failed to get from your father.

Clinging to an image of the father that you’d like but didn’t get and then projecting it onto your partners and tying them and yourself up in unrealistic expectations.

And here’s an example of how you can put yourself on the merry-go-round:

In spite of whatever experiences I’d had with my father, I’d drawn a halo around it and created an image of the father I would have liked in an ideal world. It wasn’t necessarily something I’d voiced out loud and it’s not as if I reflected on who he was, knew about values, boundaries, and healthy relationship behaviours.

Instead, I took an already very imperfect man with not so great relationship habits and basically tagged on him loving me unconditionally and making me feel all the things I didn’t feel for myself and doing everything I thought that relationships were all about…and then went out looking for it. This person was a figment of my imagination and I’d made a person with conflicting qualities and characteristics and expected it to give me a relationship it was incapable of giving.

It’s like going:

MR UNAVAILABLE DAD + MY EXPECTATION OF UNCONDITIONAL LOVE + MY EXPECTATION OF COMMITMENT + MY EXPECTATION OF A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP = MY IDEAL MAN = MR UNAVAILABLE = EXPECTING UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, COMMITMENT AND A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP FROM AN UNLIKELY SOURCE

Father Image + Unrealistic Expectations = Mr Unavailable, the man fundamentally incapable of meeting your needs.

This is why we often get involved with Mr Unavailables and want them to make us the exception – they are reflections of our father with selective ideas and characteristics that we’ve added on with our expectations that have absolutely no basis and are actually incompatible creating relationships that are set to fail which inadvertently creates a self-fulfilling prophecy that caters to our negative beliefs.

Instead of setting ourselves up to fail, we now need to focus on setting ourselves up to succeed.

Back in part 3 and part 4 and part 5

Your thoughts?

Mr Unavailable & The Fallback Girl is a no holds barred guide to emotionally unavailable men and the women that love them and will provide all the missing clues to why you date the men that you do. Also check out the rest of my ebooks in my bookshop. For personal advice or analysis of your relationship/situation, check out my consultation service.

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30 Responses to Dating Reflections of Your Father Part 2: Father Plus Unrealistic Expectations Equals Mr Unavailable

  1. AC Free says:

    OMG….internalizing every experience. That is something I never considered before but describes probably every fiber of my life. And shape-shifting (a new term to me but fits perfectly).

    “… I didn’t know who I was because I was whatever I thought each guy wanted me to be…”

    It wasn’t until about a year ago (during this 3 year process) that I realized I had no “identifiable” feelings….when I had them, I didn’t recognize them…I was just always one stroke away from losing it mentally. Now when I experience panic, I know it is panic and I can slow myself down enough to know what is causing it. The same is true with recognizing when I don’t like something….i don’t make excuses for why I don’t like it….I don’t try to change the fact that I don’t like it…..I simply don’t like it. So in short, this is what the guy gets when he gets me (feelings, likes and dislikes)…I don’t morph to fit the relationship anymore.

    In fact, I can accept when a man or some other person just doesn’t see things the same as me…..sometimes it’s a deal breaker and sometimes its not. It’s a great feeling to finally become the full / whole person that I was created to be. I still have the desire to be loved and accepted unconditionally and that’s what makes me a relational being….but bc of this blog, NML and all the wonderful women on here….I realize i don’t have to accept AC behavior in order to have those needs met.

  2. Tania says:

    Great discussion on unconditional love!! I appreciate your willingness to share your own experiences as a way to connect…Thanks again for your insights..they are a tremendous help

  3. Ellie says:

    I totally get why I’ve been selecting the guys I do because the emotional relationship (or lack thereof) is one I’ve seen with my dad and I also tend to do these sorts of things by being an EUW in a sense. I’m in therapy at the moment. I’ve seen my dad “hold people at arm’s length” (mostly the immediate family) AND be affectionate with my mom. If he tries to give me some attention, I’m usually uncomfortable with it.

    So I receive mixed messages thinking “Hey a guy who doesn’t show affection will eventually show affection (on his terms) and it shouldn’t be forced” or something to that extent.

    Otherwise, my dad doesn’t really talk about anything and if you bring up a sensitive subject he, like a turtle, goes into his shell because he wants to avoid talking about the “uncomfortable” subject.

    And that’s probably why, on some front, I have a hard time talking about emotions because 1) I sometimes have a hard time with expressing emotion and 2) I perceive it to be an uncomfortable topic for guys and I don’t want the guy to “go into his shell” and be uncomfortable. If a guy shows some attention, I’m skeptical at first but then I get comfortable. However, it’s usually when I start to get comfortable that the dude disappears and I’m sometimes devastated.

    Thus, started the cycle over again.

  4. Holy hell……..that’s all I can say

    (me being speechless is a GOOD thing btw)

  5. raven says:

    I never realised before reading this post that my father was essentially totally focused on his career and his students and my mother and I was last in the pecking order. Though I never doubted that he loved me unconditionally it was the kind of unconditional which meant that he didn’t have to get to know me, I simply never felt good enough to be important to him. I was physically and emotionally abused by my mother while he did nothing. In fact when I complained about her he said ‘your mother is a saint’.

    Both my parents were piss-poor at their job and as an only child I had nowhere else to turn. It’s a miracle I’m as sane as I am but no surprise that I’m still trying to work out how to have a healthy relationship. This blog really helps.

  6. Lillibeth says:

    Hi NML,

    Can we replace father with mother in the equation? I ask because it often feels with ACs that I’m dating my mother: everything on her terms, emotionally detached, having to work for her approval etc. Whereas I think my relationship with my father was reasonably healthy.

    I miss the forum so any info as to if/when it will be back would be appreciated!

    • Eve says:

      I could go through that list of qualities and check a good number of them off against how my dad was. But also I have to say my mum did not help at all and has (had) instilled lots of very negative attitudes about men and relationships that I’m working hard to shift. Sad really that people pass on their insecurities and problems on to their kids.

      • ph2072 says:

        Yes, it’s VERY sad, especially since we had NO choice in being born to people who, in essence, had NO idea what they were/are doing and passed it all on to us.

  7. notsosadthing says:

    Oh yes, Dad with a halo, Dad on a pedestal – despite everything I think we as little girls still saw our fathers as minor gods.

    No coincidence that once my father fell off his pedestal ( I clearly remember visiting him and my stepmother one day and just thinking that his antics were those of a 3 year old, his halo diminished quickly from then on) I met the EUM shortly after.

    So one vacant pedestal and one father clone EUM – no prizes for guessing where I elevated the EUM to! Now that the EUM is off the pedestal as well I am left with an empty pedestal which feels wierd.

  8. Movedup says:

    “I didn’t like myself enough to be myself because I thought that would scare them off. That and I didn’t know who I was because I was whatever I thought each guy wanted me to be.”
    That was so me. My stepfather was all of the above. I don’t think I have ever forgiven him for it either. I did seek validation from EUMs and when I didn’t receive it from them it was all their fault. I would try to be the exception and PROVE my love for them as valuable to them and they should appreciate that. I would even engage others in agreeing with me – he’s an ass – he doesn’t know what a great woman he has. His friends would tell him he was lucky to have me and really stupid for losing me. Mission accomplished – his fault not mine when really all I was doing was fooling myself and everyone around me. It still does not excuse his behavior but it explains mine.
    You can find me at http://braveheartwomen.com/hembaby
    Keep your chins up – Movedup

  9. Kissie says:

    My Dad put his needs first to the detriment of me and my family’s experience, was self-involved, did not met his financial or family obligations consistently, was uncommunicative and undemonstrative, was ambiguous and non-commital, charming and cheated and emotionally manipualtive of my mother. He always encourgaed me to speak up and be smart though and so I did because it was a way to be close to him, to have conversation with him to get his attention. I was his smart, articulate daughter and that made me proud. Emotionally he and his whole family were just closed. They loved but they never showed it. To this day it’s hard for my dad to hug me, but now that I’m older I just go and hug him anyway…I think he appreciates it as it’s so hard for him to show affection. Part of my healing was to forgive my dad…and my mom for their mistakes, for being human really. I often confronted my parents about the emotional dearth that existed in our home. The arguing, the fighting, the cussing, the forcing us as the children to take sides. I told them they were wrong to have done that, that we all suffered because of it and now I have to figure out what a healthy relationship looks like all by myself…and it’s not fair.

    But I was lucky to have seen the pattern that existed in my family, because often times poor relationship habits run in families and work hard on not repeating them. Of course I did because I had my fair share of EUMs but I’m finally figuring it out and putting things together in my mind. Most importantly I love and value myself. I talk to the little girl in me all the time and I tell her that I am going to protect her now, that I am here and I won’t let anyone hurt her anymore and it’s ok to be, it’s ok…it’s ok

  10. juli says:

    I have been aware for many years that it is my relationship with my father that has created/enabled my disfunction at choosing men. My parents were married for 33yrs, and my dad was always home, never cheated, and never MIA. However, he was a raging narc, that is beyond any I have ever met in person.

    He demanded PERFECTION in every way. I remember cleaning our 3000 sq ft house for a good 6hours as a teenager, by myself, while my brothers worked on mowing and landscaping our 2acre yard. When my parents came home, there was a spoon on the counter. Never mind that I had vacuumed, mopped, dusted, DUSTED THE PLANTS, done countless loads of laundry, folded, put away, had the house spotless….

    no.

    There was a spoon on the counter. He raged and raged! Screaming until red in the face and spit flying out of his mouth, telling me how useless I was and how disobedient.

    I always remembered that because it was so ridiculous, it was insanity! However, he had always been that way, so it wasn’t shocking.. just unfair. Now that my parents are divorced 5 yrs.. my dad has not ONCE contacted me or spoke to me without me doing a sneak attack and showing up somewhere where I hear he will be. He has met my 2 babies once each, and barely glanced at them. I have seen him 2 times in 5 yrs.

    The impact of having a scary father like that, is that I am not very reactive to men yelling or raging. It is so normal and typical of a man. I know how to stop speaking in the middle of a sentence. I know how to be submissive. I also know, no matter how “good” or “perfect” I try to be, ultimately it will not be enough to be loved unconditionally. If your own father doesn’t find you lovable, what man will? These are the things in my psyche. But I know better.

    I was raised also with a heavenly Father who I leaned on my entire childhood, and who DOES love me unconditionally, no matter what I do! No matter how fat I am! No matter how imperfect. He loves me the same. This helped. It is probably the reason I am not an inverted narc myself.

    I have tended to choose aggressive men that don’t know how to communicate like a grownup. Also, men who rewrite history in their head and believe it to be fact. Men who are selfish little titty sucks who will throw a tantrum if you say or do something wrong. Of course, by the time you see that behavior, you fancy yourself in love. And for me, I suppose it validates me on some level to have it reinforced that I suck and am not good enough.

    I can see how I end up in these situations, because as an adult, I get to yell BACK. I get to SAY SOMETHING. I get to have a voice. But ultimately, it’s a fruitless venture, and probably erodes my esteem further.

    I am currently reassessing my situation with my narc/EUM, because even though he has curbed his behavior for 6 months now, I sometimes get a flash of what’s underneath.. that 3yr old mentality, the tantrums, the blaming. It disgusts me. I know I can live with it, because I am conditioned to take it. But who wants that for their life?? I’m ultimately disgusted with myself for being such a classic case of a girl with daddy issues. blech!

  11. Kay says:

    I very much appreciate this discussion,Natalie, and your willingness to share your own experiences.It is always hard to revisit the past. But I love your last line which looks positively towards the future,”Instead of setting ourselves up to fail, we now need to focus on setting ourselves up to succeed.” As the only child of very dysfunctional parents and another dad worshipper,I,too, have had to unlearn all the negative emotional schooling. But unlearn we can,it takes time and effort but it is worth it.I look forward to part 3.

  12. LMA says:

    My father was an alcoholic and a philanderer. When I was barely out of my teens he decided to leave my mother and he had me go find an apartment for him. For years after I was caught between both of them, I won’t go into details but it was pretty bad. Therein started a string of relationships with married ACs, trying to win them away from their ‘undeserving’ wives… and on the odd occasion when I actually ‘won’ them, my interest would fall flat in a microsecond. Ended up marrying a narcissist AC, and divorced before I went insane. Took me years to get my self-esteem back. I still don’t trust men at all and have a hard time dating. At 39 I’m still young, hoping time will continue to help heal my horrible experiences. Thank you NML for writing about the potentially disastrous impact of the father/daughter relationship.

    • ll says:

      LMA,
      OMG, that is the story of my life! I too had a father with the same behavior patterns and WASTED my youth with MM; I did not even really want them to get divorced for me, just that was the only type of relationship that felt ‘safe’. Finally over the past year started coming out of the coma and realizing I WANT a real relationship with some potential but still it scares me badly. As soon as the forum is back up would like to IM with you so we can support each other!

  13. Claire says:

    These posts are excellent… my dad was a workaholic, somewhat of a player, almost completely unresponsive (he would only react, violently, when we were misbehaving), emotionally unavailable, selfish… but I’ve never idolized my father, and actually stopped liking him rather early in my childhood. Besides, my mum almost always spoke ill of him. I always went (except in one occasion) for men who were exactly the contrary of my dad, even on a pysical point of view. I think than other than trying to reenact what I missed out with my father to re-write it better, I am reenacting the relationship they had. In many respect I am my dad. Workaholic, a bit of a player and emotionally unavailable. Anyone would have a clue? I am sure these posts are relevant to me as my dad was just like that… but I don’t see the same result with me. I don’t have an AC pattern…

  14. SmarterNow says:

    Holy hell is right. You just brought a huge realization out into plain daylight. My father was a good man deep down, but with a lot of emotional scars from his own childhood. As long as we tiptoed around him and didn’t show our own negative emotions, he was fine. But if he had a bad day he would rage, criticize, and physically strike out at all of us. All the while, my mother would never stand up for herself or for us. She would play the peacemaker and urge us to stay quiet and stay out of his way. She would never admit that his behavior was wrong – only tell us that “your father loves you” and he was having a bad day.

    Is it surprising AT ALL that with every AC I’ve dated, I’ve been looking for the “love” underneath all of the bad behavior???

    Which leads to the most valuable lesson we can probably learn from this. DO WE WANT OUR OWN CHILDREN TO LOVE MEN WHO TREAT THEM THIS WAY? Then we’d better be extremely careful who we date, because any AC we end up “winning” will become the cause of our own daughter’s constant pain. It is simply not worth it.

    • juli says:

      Wow Smarternow. My mom handled it the same way. She urged us to be perfect basically, stay out of his way, obey quickly, and always tried to convince us that our dad really DID love us. If she ever confronted him about his behavior, it was not done in front of us. When I was a child and teen, I felt I had the best mom in the whole world, because she always validated us, and counteracted whatever my dad said/did with some loving gesture or kind words.

      Now, I sometimes feel that she did not protect us from that bully, and stood by while he abused us every single day. She should have left him way back then. They finally got divorced 5yrs ago, after 33yrs of marriage. Too bad he charmed a nice lady in a 3 month span of time, and married her before the mask came off. Now he is her problem.

      • SmarterNow says:

        Thanks Juli, it’s definitely reassuring to hear that someone else understands! I don’t know if my mom ever confronted my dad either, but I definitely remember painting her as the saint while thinking “why in the world would she stay with him?” I actually prayed for many years that they would get divorced. Fast-forward to today, and they are both retired and — for all I can tell — very happy together. I guess their particular characteristics (angry/immature and conflict-avoidant-everything-is-OK) work for them. They don’t have many friends, but they are an island unto themselves and do all sorts of traveling, talking, and spending time together.

        My brother and sister are both happily married as well, and don’t have many friends outside their relationship, either. Me, on the other hand – I have many friends and outside activities, but haven’t had a successful relationship for almost 10 years. Just keep dating one AC after another… which really pisses me off. On one hand I KNOW that I have learned so much from my experiences, and that the person I end up with will be a good fit for me. But on the other hand, I seem to be programmed to only be attracted to unavailable men, and I’m not sure how to fix that?! Somehow my self-awareness hasn’t translated into chemistry… and I’m afraid it never will. THAT is what makes me feel hopeless.

        I’m sure that’s yet another step in my evolution… but I’m just feeling a bit impatient these days. Girls have their needs too:) In the process of cutting off all the people who don’t give me what I want, I am truly finding that I’m left with no one. And for a gal in the prime of her life (sexually, anyway!), that is quite the annoying reality!

        • ME says:

          Thats interesting smarternow I feel the same way too. Most of my friends are in semi-good-enough relationships and working things out while I feel I have been left behind for not “settling” for good enough men that dont offer me the emotional connection I am looking for.

          Are they settling to be in a relationship or are we settling to be single?

          • SmarterNow says:

            ME, It’s so funny you mention that. I was just talking about that with a married friend earlier. She suggested that rather than analyzing so much, I should probably just try to get into a relationship if I meet someone who isn’t an AC… to see what it’s actually like on the other side… i think what she was implying is that i’ve been OUT of them for so long that maybe I am idealizing what they are actually like — even the good ones! She said she often wonders whether things that come up as stressors in her marriage would have been that way with other guys she might have chosen… or if everyone “settles” to some degree.

            But I know exactly what you mean – why settle for someone if you don’t feel an emotional connection with them? I’m sure you also have plenty of friends and activities to fill up your social life, and there’s no point in carving out time for someone if that person doesn’t add something extra to your life that you can’t get anywhere else.

            One perfect (and heartbreaking) example was the guy I dated in college and grad school… to this day I still consider him the love of my life, because our 3-year relationship was so fairytale and mutual-admiration and adoration. I’m sure it was because “real life” had not yet intruded, and we were able to push our differences under the rug for a long time. But even though I called him the love of my life, something deeper was always missing with us… he just didn’t “get” me, and the loneliness I felt sitting next to him was sometimes overwhelming.

            Looking back, do I wish I had stayed with him and tried to get my emotional needs met elsewhere? Honestly… these days I would say yes. But friends who knew me back then also remind me of how much I talked about what was lacking in our connection, so maybe my heart really did know what it was missing.

            I have met guys after him who DID “get” me, and it was a totally different world. So I have to believe that somewhere out there, I’ll find a combination of what I loved about my ex and what I need in someone to navigate “real life” together. I guess the first step is truly ridding myself of the desire to date AC’s who will never be able to give me what I need, and sort through the “nice guys” after that…. ;)

        • aphrogirl says:

          I often think of this too. When I was involved with the EUM I noticed that his angry outbursts and halting ‘end of discussion’ type comments made me feel like a child that had been silenced. There was no way through this barrier with him and I would rather be alone than feel silenced.

          My close friend who has been married to a difficult EUM for decades has become conflict avoidant with her husband to such an extreme that her kids think she is a bit daft at times. The whitewashing has affected her patterns of behavior in other areas of her life.

          She has some really rough and low times with her husband but says she stays because she loves him. I found I could not take the ill tempered, angry behavior. I’d honestly rather be alone than live with that kind of love. That is not love to me.

        • Nicole says:

          SmarterNow,

          I can relate to your situation, too. I had an angry dad and a passive/peace-making mom. They are still together after all these years. My friends have always envied my parents, because whenever we had company, my dad was on his best behavior, quite charming and funny, actually.

          But even now, after all these years, the issues between them are still there. My mom has confided in me how unhappy she really is. I think her behavior over the years, trying to smooth things over, has taken its toll on her. She is underweight, and has low energy. I can’t help but look at her and think it’s like a physical manifestation of her emotional health. For so many years, she would deny her needs to please my dad, as if her needs didn’t exist. Now she is physically disappearing.

          I have been through 2 bad marriages, and stayed in both of them longer than I should have. I would love to have a healthy, loving relationship, but I don’t envy anyone who settles, because I do not believe it brings long-term happiness.

  15. Kat Wilder says:

    From the reading/workshops I’ve experienced, it isn’t just your dad — we look for whatever was missing from our family (otherwise, what about people who grow up in gay/lesbian households?). We look for what’s missing in general, regardless of gender, and we often act like one or the other of our parents.

    Understanding family dynamic is important, understanding how that’s impacted us is essential, knowing that we no longer have to live by those behaviors and finding new ways to be is the hard part!

    If you think of your parents as young kids once, wanting the same love and understanding from their parents — and likely not getting it — then you can have a lot of compassion and empathy for them, and how they treated you. I sure hope my kid sees it that way!

  16. Pushing.Thru says:

    @ SmarterNow,

    Yup, that was my situation at home…. i recently found out that my dad witnessed a lot of yelling matches and was subjected to a lot of abuse at home with my grandparents. He told my mom a few months back that all he remembers doing was going to his room and putting on his head phones and trying to block it out
    … (my mom told me this).
    It explained so much to me – he had so much anger inside of him and someone like me – who may have been on the more aggressive side and pretty forth right – brought out all the rage in him. My mom tried so hard to please him and waited on him hand and foot.
    My other sisters knew their way around him and sucked up a bit more to get their way. I never did.
    I was hit all through my teens and into my early 20′s for not doing what i was told and mouthing off – they were never. I don’t blame all the fighting on him – I do have a temper and i wasn’t afraid to express my anger. He didn’t know how to handle it. However – the belittling comments and the “tough love” as my mother puts it, is what really sticks. I’m very emotionally immature, and i am not logical at all when it comes to love, I know that the way I was treated at home has a lot to do with it.

    It bothers me that I see my mother and father doing little vacations and loving each other to death. It’s not that I’m jealous that they have each other and i’m alone – I’m upset that he is so emotionally detached with his kids that he won’t take 5 minutes to think about how his behavior has affected us now that we are young ladies. It’s not fair. I deserve that apology, but like i said in my last post, it’s not coming… so I have to accept that and re-teach myself how to take care of me and chose healthy partners.

    Our last family trip he asked me why i didn’t have a bf,…. which was weird already because he doesn’t normally ask me about boys. I simply said I was just very picky and he replied “Picky for losers”
    I just walked away. That’s just him.

    Thanks for listening xx

    • SmarterNow says:

      Pushing.Thru I totally know what you mean! My parents are completely confused as to why I can’t find a good guy, and why I have no desire to get married and have kids. And I just want to say… “because I watched YOUR example.” Isn’t that terrible? And honestly they seem to be happy together, and my brother and sister seem to be in well-adjusted relationships. So somehow I only absorbed the negative view growing up, and everything for them seemed to work out fine in the end.

      I really liked what you said about re-teaching yourself how to choose healthy partners. It sounds like we did the same thing our mothers did – understand where our father’s behavior was coming from and therefore excuse it – but it’s not a healthy way to behave with people we date. I also think you are lucky that you know how to express your anger and stand up for yourself… I think it’s better than being stuck in passive mode where you have accepted and kept quiet for so long, that you can’t even identify what a boundary is or if someone is crossing it. You sound like you are on the right path in figuring out how you need to react in the future.

      Funny too that you mentioned that you are emotionally immature, I said that exact thing to my mother several months ago. My parents did something I wasn’t happy about, and I actually ADMITTED it, which was huge for me. And then (of course) I felt I had to apologize for expressing my anger, but in the process said look, I am kind of “learning to walk” in terms of my emotional life, and I would appreciate your support.

      I guess we all have to start somewhere?!

  17. MaryC says:

    I guess I’m one of the lucky ones I had 2 great parents. My biological dad died when my mom was pregnant with twins (me & my sister) a car accident. She married who I think of as my dad when we were 3 and he adopted us. Couldn’t of asked for a better dad or extended family. He died 16yrs ago and I miss him terribly but my mom is still with us.

    So I guess I look for someone who probably can’t measure up.

  18. ph2072 says:

    I was, and still am to a kinda-large extent, Fort Knox. LMAO and SMH. I’m still a work in progress. My dad and I have an alright relationship now (same for my stepfather), but it took LOTS of blood/sweat/tears and verbal conflict to get there. And even now, the behaviors (or non-behaviors) of both my parents, as well as my stepfather, affect me to this day via thoughts/feelings; that’s why I’m Fort Knox. In effect, I say to myself, “My parents’ marriage was shit. There was domestic violence. There were (and still are) manipulative & provocative/provoking behaviors on mother’s part. Dad AND Stepdad cheated, Dad AND Stepdad abandoned me, Dad AND Stepdad divorced mother. I’ll NEVER let ANY man do that shit to ME.” I’m just more conscious of it now and (am) work(ing) hard to face the thoughts/feelings head on.

    Life is a journey. Always a work in progress.

    P.S. Hopefully you’ll do an entry on mother/daughter dynamics. Those can be as dysfunctional & destructive as father/daughter dynamics.

  19. M says:

    WOW!

    Look how many of us grow up with the SAME stories and issues. Its stultifies me.

    Im almost thankful that my dad didn’t stick around – so that I only have ONE HALF the set of Messages I did receive from my mother.

    For some reason I didnt develop alot of messages about my father not being there – because I do recall how he doted on me when I was little; to the extent that the mother would show signs of jealousy and anger towards me because of it.

    Bottom line is – It’s now my turn to replace all these faulty messages with new ones that SERVE my best interests and help me make choices that reflect my love for myself.

    Phew. Im tired. :)

  20. This post was very eye-opening. I consider myself extremely lucky that I have 2 loving parents. By no means am I Mr. Perfect. I have flaws just like everyone else. But whether they spring from the relationship I have with my father or if they are just “bad habits” I picked up along the way is, and probably always will be, a mystery to me. Sure we had some pretty ugly fights but I wasn’t exactly the ideal teenager (who is). After all is said and done though I thank my lucky stars that I was born to my parents.

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!