You know how it is. I took a much needed hiatus after my last relationship. The one I thought was “the one.” I was excited for my best friend from So Cal. to meet him. She and her husband were coming for the weekend and we were meeting the b.f. for dinner. I thought the evening went great and the reviews would be the same, but at the end of the night my girlfriend looked at me and said “K, what are you doing? “You’re dating your dad.” As soon as the words left her mouth I knew she was right.
All the things about him I didn’t like but that seemed so comfortable and familiar. You know what I am talking about, the things you are so drawn to yet almost immediately work to change. All the things I didn’t like about my dad, all the unfinished, unhealed pieces rolled up in one guy that I was totally crazy about. And I do mean crazy. I loved him but didn’t really like him that much. Sometimes I even resented him. He was just being himself having no idea that a critical comment or observation he was making left me feeling like I was 6 or10 or some other point in my childhood when my father made a similar statement. Back then I just filed it away someplace in my body, like an unwanted gift to be opened later, or never. Well, I guess the time was now. Ahhh, unfinished business, don’t you love it.
But this had been a long time coming. I always knew I had “stuff” with my dad. His anger issues made me nervous and uneasy, he always was a bit grouchy and critical and negative. He was definitely a “glass half empty kind of guy. He wasn’t the type who was open to talking about this, or maybe it was me unwilling to talk to him about it. Yikes. . .scary. So I did what I thought was the next best thing, I knew my issues with my dad were affecting my relationships so I got therapy. Many years, of therapy. Got to some good stuff and felt clear and healed. I no longer felt fear or resentment toward my dad. Or so I thought.
After my friend’s revelation, I had to admit that I had been dating my dad for years. I went back through all of my significant relationships and yep, there it was, a pattern. Uggg, I hate when that happens. I had worked on all of this stuff for years, spent thousands of dollars in therapy. I thought I had healed my dad issues. I actually really liked him even. I couldn’t still have stuff to work out.
So what are these lessons? Here’s my Ken doll theory of love. Until you get clear about your “stuff,” you’ll keep attracting the same relationship. Even though your current guy has a different job, different hair, drives a different car, he’s the same guy. You think he’s different, but he has the same issues, “your issues”, that your last four boyfriends had. It’s the same Ken doll, you just pop a new head on. This new guy is “totally new,” right? But the reason it didn’t work out ends up being the same reason the last one didn’t work out,and the one before him. It just played out slightly differently. This pattern keeps repeating for a reason, so you can see that this is your issue, your fear, your work you need to do. Bottom line, it’s just the illusion of something different. Hi Ken, it’s you again. Give it some thought, maybe we can figure this out together.
Well I’ve got some work to do, wish me luck, I will keep you posted. xo- K
My two cents: When you see a pattern pay attention, there are no coincidences.
OMG. I remember the day I realized that I had married my dad. I was in therapy because I wanted to leave my marriage and like a good Catholic girl, felt totally guilty about it. He was the quintessential nice guy. Everybody loved him. Life of the party. Stable career. Didn’t stay out all night, didn’t cheat. And yet I felt that I would suffocated if I didn’t go. My therapist and I talked about how we base our beliefs of how relationships should work by studying our parents. I was mortified. Not only to realize that I was acting out my mother on a subconscious level (nooooooo!), but that I had chosen for my spouse someone who resonated with me on the same level as my dad. I never had sex with my husband again after that. It seemed so wrong on so many levels, I didn’t know where to start.
Harvel Hendrix has a wonderful book called Getting The Love You Want. It’s an amazing guide that looks at the architecture of a healthy, nurturing relationship, and also looks at the spiritual health of a couple. Hendrix describes four levels of romantic love. The first is the feeling is one of deja vu — like you’ve known each other forever. In a way, you have. You are each resonating to the feelings that this new person sparks in you that feel familiar to the feelings you felt from your original love objects: you parents. The next step is a feeling of finding something you’ve been looking for. I call this the “oh there you are” syndrome. We look and look for someone to make us feel the way we think love is supposed to feel. The third step is a feeling of completion, of wholeness. The final step is a feeling that you can’t imagine a life without this person who makes you feel this incredible love. When you’re in the throes of these love steps, you are blissed out on romantic love. Endorphins are firing, you feel fully alive.
If you’re exceptionally lucky, you and your beloved maintain these wonderful feelings and you live happily ever after. The rest of us go down the slippery slope of disillusionment and pain of a breakup, and look for the lesson in the chaos so we can avoid that mess forever and ever, amen! But disillusionment is tricky. It’s sticky and seductive and its easy to get stuck there.
How about this. How about once your recognize your relationship pattern of choosing the overly critical person again and again, living out a Groundhog Day kind of romantic existence, you stop and sit with it. Maybe in addition to being highly critical, your dad has qualities that are good and noble and worthy. You maybe want to jettison the critical guy, but maybe he’s loyal, or generous, or would slay dragons to protect his family. Those are qualities your dad has too. Maybe those are worth keeping on your “man of my dreams” list. Thanks for checking in! Love, C
My two cents: Every relationship is a gift and if you allow yourself to appreciate the good as well as the bad, it will bring you a step closer to the real deal.