My Deadbeat Dad Is Affecting My Love Life

Deadbeat fatherI’ve never known my father. I’ve never cuddled my forehead under his chin while we watched TV, never run home from school to tell him some pointless story, never had him pin a corsage on me for my high school prom or carry my stuff to my dorm room when I went away to college.

For as many years as I’ve been alive, my father has been a figment of my imagination, a figure shrouded in as much mystery as the Tooth Fairy. I’ve never met him, I’ve never talked to him, and aside from some ancient pictures my mom saved of him from his Afro-wearing days in the '70s, I’ve never seen him.

I’ve watched reality shows where grown folks still lament the absence of their missing fathers, dig up all kinds of info on the Internet, and literally track them down. I rarely think about that missing in action man. But apparently, there are some underlying effects of growing up without a dad that are manifesting themsevles in my relationships.

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For the longest time, I thought I’d gotten through the whole dad-less daughter thing perfectly and completely unscathed. It never seemed to rear its head anywhere in my life, sans the times in school when we were making crafts for Father’s Day gifts and I had to reword mine so I could give it to my granddaddy — which I happily did, might I add. Other than that, my father (or lack thereof) was a fleeting, if not barely occasional, thought.

Still, I wonder if not knowing him has given me space and opportunity to shape some abandonment issues. It’s not me worrying about being left exactly. Instead, I hold on to other people even when I know in the deepest pockets of my heart that a relationship has run long past its expiration date. I’ve juggled dudes in an effort to not hurt someone’s feelings rather than telling them it was over. I just never wanted to be the source of somebody else’s pain, and I think that avoidance stretches way beyond me just being a nice person. The roots come from getting the ultimate kiss-off from the man who ostensibly should’ve partnered in the raising of me.

A few months ago, I lambasted a guy in an article I’d read for admitting that he tells his man-friends and other guys he unfortunately runs across to not hook up with a gal who grew up in a fatherless home. His quote: “Don’t ever marry a woman who doesn’t have a father, because she has no clue how to treat a man.” It’s stupid advice, mainly because one thing doesn’t have anything to do with the other. I’ve come across all kinds of guys with mothers who don’t know A, B, or C about being in a relationship with a woman. If that’s his logic, what happened to them?

His warped thinking only works to divide women, make one set of ladies desirable and another set not so much. Another parameter we have to meet. Another standard to operate under. Another thing we have to worry about. Another attribution to our singleness. And really, another issue that’s out of our hands.

But — and yes, there is a but — there may be residuals that creep up even in the healthiest, most loving of single-mother households. Some that don’t even show until folks like me are well into a relationship, when that abandoned kid has become a grown-up and notices that there are some weird things going on in our line of thinking.

I’m probably better off for not knowing that man, even now as an adult. A few months ago, Facebook randomly suggested him as a friend and I almost fell out of my cushy spot on the sofa. I’ve got all the men I need in my life now — including a boyfriend who is both compassionate and patient, bless his heart. Thank goodness for men who do know how to stick around for the long haul.

Do you think a missing parent affects adult relationships? Has it manifested itself in yours?

 

Image via izik/Flickr

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