Psychologists state that our choices in adult romantic connections are directly related to the relationship we had with our parents growing up.
My father used to be a very strict man. In an effort to overprotect me, he talked to me about men and sexuality in a very cynical way at an age when I was too young to even understand my emotions or know about my body.
As a result, I grew up thinking and believing that all men were bad.
I never had a boyfriend in high school because I was not allowed to. But the truth is I was also scared to have one.
When I felt ready and moved far enough from my parents, I took a stab at dating. I had a couple of boyfriends in college. They were good guys. I had healthy and organic relationships and I was not scarred by any of them.
Something in me changed when I moved abroad. I became very passive when it came to dating and I chose to ignore red flags in men.
Living in a different country and being away from my family and my comfort zone made me an emotionally dependent person.
The combination of being somewhat sheltered, a Catholic education and the Latin cultural label that women are not worthy if they are not with a man did not work to my advantage either.
When I decided to get married I did it for all the wrong reasons. I wanted to fulfill an item on my personal checklist and I thought it was «time». I wanted to have kids and most of my friends were getting married.
One would think that after hearing my dad talk about men in the way he did, my hate towards them should have made me become a vicious playette diva.
Not at all.
Instead, my loving and caring personality paired with my emotional dependence, made me a perfect victim of men with narcissistic, egocentric and psychopathic tendencies.
I was always chosen, a serial monogamist, and handled relationships opting for the path of least resistance, only keeping in mind to shy away from men with traits like my dad’s.
I don’t want to blame my father for my mistakes in relationships or any of my hardships because the choices were all mine.
At times, I wish I had listened to him more…
But now is time to forgive, forget, move forward, heal and work on believing that I am deserving of the life I dream of.
I want to stop focusing so much on the future and instead work towards a happier present.
Even though I haven’t been the luckiest in relationships and my feelings are a bit jaded, I really hope to be able to fall in love someday.
I want to truly surrender – mind, heart and body – and most importantly, I want to be genuine and able to be myself.
I still want to be pursued and romanced, but I also need to allow myself to be vulnerable and less guarded.
I am in my 40s, a mother and now I live with my parents in my hometown – not the easiest setup to meet someone, but I am in no rush this time.
I am not working with a checklist anymore.
My dad (and my mom) can be very judgmental, opinionated and critical about my choices and the decisions I’ve made, but I know I can count on their support 100%.
They overprotect me because they are scared I might get in trouble and suffer again. After everything I’ve gone through with my health and my relationships, they expect my life to be «perfect».
Facing his own childhood demons, my dad thought he was protecting his little girl from male predators, but what he really was trying to do is protect me from men like him.
It is hard to come to the realization because on one hand, he did this out of love and wanted to watch out for me. On the other, I wish he had been an example of what type of man to look for.
He is a wonderful person and a great father. He did not imagine his words and actions would have serious repercussions on the way I related to men in the future.
I find that writing this piece is liberating even if by doing so I have to open up about my upbringing and my relationship with my father growing up. We get along well now and I have learned to keep my romantic matters to myself to avoid any conflicts.
I have to admit that when I first moved back home I was hopeless about a sunny future, and I thought I needed to punish myself for all my mistakes.
I made mistakes, yes. But I want to think these were learning experiences that made me stronger and wiser and brought me where I am today.
I deserve a second chance and not a punishment.
After a lot of soul searching, reflection and experience, I have a way more positive outlook.
I see myself happy in the future – with or without a significant other – raising my son, getting to know myself more, enjoying good times with my family and friends and appreciating the small things.
I have to stop thinking that every man I decide to be intimate with has to become my husband, but sometimes there is a big struggle between my modern woman front and my inner chaste and virtuous persona.
I am certain that the right person for me is still out there.
What I am really hoping for is an all-inclusive relationship – a friend, a partner, a lover – where the only person I will create a dependency on is myself.