I noticed the personality similarities immediately but I ultimately ignored them because it felt familiar. When I met my previous boyfriend, the similarities between my dad and him were very obvious to me. He was reserved, soft-spoken and a bit stoic like my dad, yet fun and engaging in small groups like my dad too. I found myself instantly attracted to him. But, looking back, I think I was mostly attracted to the familiarity I felt because he reminded me so much of the first man I’d ever been close to—my dad.
They had similar interests too. In addition to their personalities, they both liked the same sports, shared similar political views, shared a similar life outlook, and loved the same music and art. It was uncanny for sure. It felt easy to relate to him because of these things. It felt like I had experience with this type of man before because my dad shared about 80% of the same interests as my boyfriend.
They were the same astrological sign only days apart. When he told me his birthdate, all of their similarities began to make sense. I kind of laughed it off as another coincidence but it was uncanny. Two Cancer men in my life at the same time? As an astrology junkie, I thought, wow, maybe this is a lot to handle. Ultimately, I repressed those thoughts and feelings because I wanted this guy to be my boyfriend (bad reason to be in a relationship 101).
The things that bother me about my dad’s personality were the same ones that bothered me about my ex. I noticed fairly quickly that the parts of my dad’s personality that irked me to the core were the same ones that made spending time with my boyfriend less than enjoyable. It’s one thing when your dad’s personality bothers you because your romantic feelings aren’t tied to the things that he does. I’ve been able to reconcile some of the bad things about my dad because he provided so much for me as a kid despite all the bad stuff. But reliving some of these things through a romantic partner is an entirely different thing.
I felt like I was reliving my childhood sometimes. In some ways, I relived difficult times with my dad through my relationship with my ex-boyfriend. Sure, it is possible that I projected some of those bad memories and feelings onto my boyfriend because of the familiarity that I felt due to his similarities with my dad, but the fact that I instinctively did so was a red flag that I chose to ignore at the time. Looking back, difficult times with my ex-boyfriend mirrored difficult times with my dad and sent me into a bad emotional place. I chose to focus on the warm and fuzzy things that reminded me of my dad and ignore the other bad things, which was a bad idea.
I quickly realized that choosing a partner like your parent in a relationship comes at a huge cost. It’s easy to get sucked into and justify your relationship. We’re conditioned as children to identify our parents’ personalities, recognize their traits and latch onto them because we have no other choice when we’re little. As such, it’s easy to gravitate toward people that remind you of what you know, for better or for worse. I’m not big on regrets but had I listened to my inner voice and not fallen for a guy like my dad, I would have saved myself so much disappointment.
When they actually met, it was a disaster. Interestingly enough, when my dad and my boyfriend met each other, they did not get along. My dad called me soon after to explain that he wasn’t hot on my boyfriend and my boyfriend and I actually broke up a few days after they met. What I thought would be a match made in heaven was the complete opposite. Maybe it was weird for them to experience similar yet somewhat distorted versions of each other, like when you look into a funhouse mirror and you see yourself looking back but your head or butt are ten times larger or longer. For me, it was strange to see younger and current versions of them together. Two quiet, reserved men together can be kind of awkward. They agreed on most things and didn’t really have much to talk about. Either way, it was bad news bears.
I realized I didn’t want to spend my life with someone who reminded me of my dad. Part of the reason why we ended things was that I just didn’t want to spend my life with a guy who reminded me of my dad. The way I saw it, I spent 20+ years with my dad already—I didn’t need to spend another few decades with another version of him.
I’m dating someone who’s nothing like my dad and it’s a much healthier relationship. My current boyfriend is nothing like my dad. He doesn’t trigger bad memories from my childhood or prey on the little girl in me in with glimmers of what reminds me of the good parts of my dad’s personality. I love my dad but our relationship has been challenging and going forward in my life, I just want to be with a man who gives me something completely different. I couldn’t choose the first man in my life but I can choose the man I spend the rest of it with.
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