Why most women “marry their father”

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Young girls’ interaction with their father is the first interaction they have with the opposite sex (Photo: iStock)

When it comes to choosing a partner, different people look for different attributes. Some look for specific physical attributes, such as height, skin color, and weight; some go for temperament and emotional qualities while others, especially females, simply seek out their father (or not).

Studies show that many women end up dating or marrying men who have certain recognizable similarities to their fathers.

Although it often happens on a subconscious level (no one compares their potential partners to their father’s personality attributes), these women end up settling down with men who somehow look like their fathers.

Many theories attempt to explain this phenomenon. The most popular is the “Electra” complex developed by Jung, which is the opposite of the Oedipus complex.

He attempts to explain the relationship between a daughter and her father, claiming that at a certain period of development, daughters are (again, unconsciously) attracted to their father and they show jealousy towards their mother.

Some scientists claim that it is this complex that manifests itself again at this older age, but with different characters. Beyond this theory, however, there are several reasons why women might seek partners who resemble their parents.

Dr. J Wright, a relationship therapist, thinks it has something to do with “pre-sex programming.”

Some women will seek partners with the same attributes as their fathers (Photo: iStock)

According to her, as infants, we develop an unconscious blueprint of what love is, based on how we are treated by our primary caregivers. Then, as adults, we are attracted to people who stimulate us in the same way.

Judith Adhiambo, 35, admits she has always found herself with men who somehow share certain attributes with her father.

“I’m a daddy’s girl,” she says, “we’re very close. He’s the best man I’ve ever known. He is social, gentle, calm and very friendly. I realized that I was attracted to very friendly men, just like my father. I can’t help it; whenever I am with a friendly person, I feel very comfortable.

According to Dr. Wright, young girls’ interactions with their fathers are their first communication with the opposite sex and so for some women this could be the model for the relationships they have in adulthood.

This is what other studies call gender imprinting and they suggest it is an active process that involves the relationship between the child and the adult they imprint on.

For example, for Judith, being with such men just seems familiar. It brings back the feeling of being a teenager again.

“Growing up my dad was my role model, he was also my best friend. I ran to him with all my teenage problems,” she laughs.

“We still talk a lot, but I have since moved. I broke up with my first boyfriend just a year after we started dating. He had anger issues, but maybe I had something to do with it too. We could have lasted longer, but I just wasn’t used to arguing every day. When he left, I returned home soon after, but only because I was looking for comfort. Of course, my dad was there for me, just like when I was a teenager.

Ashley, on the other hand, grew up without a father figure. The 23-year-old is a college student studying economics and is in her final semester.

Women growing up without a father may form relationships to seek out father figures (Photo: iStock)

“I am the first born in a family of two. I did not know my father. They broke up when I was quite young so I don’t remember him at all. My sister arrived much later after he left, but even her father also left us when she was only two years old. For most of my life, it’s been just me, my mom, and my sister.

Ashley was sent to boarding school soon after, where she spent most of her childhood. Later, she joined another boarding school in high school.

“It was a girls-only boarding school, even the high school one. The primary school was sponsored by a Catholic church, so apart from the girls, there were only nuns. However, I did not miss my father, even when I saw other girls with their father on visiting days. My mom always came with my sister, and it was fun. However, much later when I joined campus, I began to notice that I subtly craved a male presence.

Dr. Wright says that sometimes some women like Ashley, who grew up completely fatherless or with unavailable fathers, may form relationships to seek out father figures.

For these women, their minds can subconsciously imagine what having a father would have felt like and so while looking for a mate, they will often settle for men with these imagined attributes.

“At some point I noticed that my boyfriends were much older than me and almost all of them ended up having commitment issues. The more detached they were, the more attracted to them I became. But I also became desperate, anxious and embarrassing. I was always afraid that they would leave, which they did, in the end,” she says.

Apart from being unavailable, these women can also easily fall for dominant men or men in powerful positions, as they may yearn for dominance or stable father figures in their lives.

According to psychologist Suzanne Gachanja, these are often women who “have grown up with weak or unreliable father figures, the kind who are either husbands to peck at or men who cannot support their families, or who don’t do their best to make ends meet.”

Others may prefer long-distance relationships, as they may also have detachment issues and are not quite able to rely on their partners.

She also rightly points out that, physically, we often subconsciously seek out people like us.

And since a woman can look like her father, she can end up with a man who “looks like her”. And looks like his dad.

“When a couple is said to look alike, which people often do, it’s not because they’ve been together for a long time or for other romantic reasons. It’s because they’ve been subconsciously looking for someone. one that physiologically resembles them, perhaps the eyes, facial structure, body shape, etc.

However, there are women who, when choosing a partner to settle down with, go to the opposite extreme of what their fathers were.

Most of these women grew up either with abusive fathers who may have been abusive to them or their mothers, or with drug addicts who caused them and their siblings an immeasurable amount of mental or mental suffering. revenue.

These women can, under healthy and ideal circumstances, recognize harmful patterns in potential partners and reject them early enough. However, in the real world, this rarely happens.

Some of these women still end up with violent men despite seeing their abusive traits early in their interactions.

Because they had difficult relationships with their fathers, they try to “fix” their partners (Photo: iStock)

Jennifer Harman, professor of psychology and co-author of The Science of Relationships, attributes this phenomenon to familiarity. According to her, while this may not be a particularly healthy relationship dynamic, for these women it is comfortable.

Indeed, people will often fall into relationship patterns as adults that are similar to the patterns they learned growing up. Although these patterns are not necessarily unhealthy, sometimes they are and they are more dangerous.

Dr. Wright says that in this case, you might think you are dating the opposite extreme of your father, and yet the unconscious mind finds a way back to what is comfortable.

Most of these women, however, simply end up with a “fix it” mentality. Because they had difficult relationships with their fathers, they try to “fix” their partners (who ironically will share some attributes with the fathers) so that they don’t become their fathers.

According to Dr. Wright, “It’s your psyche coming back to the scene of the crime. You choose someone who has the same problems (as your father) so you can solve it and do a better job this time around.

Florence Gathoni, 41, grew up with a father who was not only an alcoholic but also physically abusive towards his mother and children, whom he beat for years until he could no longer, rendered weak and sickly by cirrhosis of the liver.

“Before I started therapy, I had had two toxic relationships. I know it’s ironic, but somehow, unknowingly, I was trying to change them. Of course, I didn’t. didn’t succeed. My first boyfriend was manipulative but he never physically abused me. The second was worse. When I started therapy, my therapist pointed out to me how these men looked a bit like my father. It was the first time I had seen the resemblance.

Florence says she’s learned that for people like her, finding a partner like their parents allows them to resolve issues that troubled them with their parents as children.

“She told me that if I didn’t break the cycle, I could keep trying to find more and more people like my dad until I finally got over this problem.”

With the help of therapy, the teacher and mother of three overcame her risky nature and finally met someone she happily settled down with.

But other women like Abigael disagree that women look for their father in their partner. According to her, the childhood relationships with the parents play an insignificant role in the choice of their associations.

“None of my partners had anything like my dad. My dad is a good person, but I don’t try to look for it in other people. On the contrary, I often find ‘good men’ boring! Women look for different things in men,” she says.

“I don’t believe it has anything to do with the men themselves, but rather what the woman wants or is comfortable with.”

According to her, women will always be attracted to a strong example of what a man is, whether he is good or bad, and this should not be taken to mean anything other than his preference.

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