Don’t you ever just think, “My dad is so awesome. I wish I could just find someone like him.” Or, conversely, maybe your dad sucks and you think, “Fuck. My dad is the worst. Why do I keep dating people who treat me like shit?”
My dad is the raddest dude on the planet. He wears nature shirts, is exceedingly kind and pragmatic, and even sometimes talks to woodland creatures outside the kitchen window like they can hear him. My parents have one of those too-cute-it’s-almost-gross relationships, where he balances my mom's neurotic, precocious, wildly eccentric adorableness -- pulling her back to earth before her over-imaginative brain lifts her off, never to return.
My boyfriend is just like my father: calm, earnest, and supportive of everything I do. And the fact that I'm with this man actually has a lot to do with my dad. Because whether we like it or not, our parents have a profound effect on our dating choices.
Oedipus and Electra are complex(es)
Sigmund Freud famously penned his theories on the Oedipus Complex, aptly named for the Greek tragedy wherein the main character marries his mother and then blinds himself before self-banishment to the mountains. The Oedipal Complex, Freud theorized, suggests that young boys are in sexual competition with their fathers for their mother’s devotion.
The Electra Complex is Freud-protege Carl Jung’s complementary theory, in which a daughter is in sexual competition with her mother for her father’s devotion. I know you’re probably staving off the impulse to vomit right now. Rightly so. Dating your mom or dad is gross AF. But there is some truth to this theory.
Think about your relationships with your parents. Is the relationship positive or negative? Do you see any similarities in your past relationships? My guess is that you probably do.
It all begins when we’re children
While Freud and Jung’s theories have merit, we have to look deeper at our parental relationships to truly understand our choices as adults -- especially those of the romantic variety. Our relationships with our primary caregivers are the start of our maturation, and our first experience with other human beings. This primary caregiver is usually the mother (but not always).