Family = destiny?

It’s been said that most [straight] women are looking to end up with someone like their father.  I’ve always found that idea vaguely incestuous and therefore disgusting.  Also, my dad is an abusive dickbag so I guess I just can’t get my head around someone admiring their father and wanting to find a man with his sterling qualities.  I mean I suppose it happens, but I can’t comprehend what that would be like.

But because my dad is the first guy I ever had any kind of ongoing relationship with, on some level he became my template for how interactions with guys were supposed to go.  And so, looking back, I realize that in my first few relationships I was drawn to people like my dad: smart, but childish and emotionally and physically abusive.  It’s not that I liked those qualities.  It’s that a guy with those qualities seemed somehow comfortably familiar: I knew how to act with him.  I could just fall right into all the well-worn patterns I’d grown up with.

With my ex husband, I thought I’d finally escaped that particular trap:  Ex, though a super-genius, was also a patient person who wasn’t constantly lording his superior intelligence and physical strength over me*.  Only after we’d broken up did I realize that he was like my dad in another way: they both tried to control me by making me dependent on them.  They both tacitly encouraged my social anxiety and offered to do things for me that I was perfectly capable of doing myself.  Also, Ex did turn out to have a violent temper.  His temper was a little different from my dad’s, in that I don’t think Ex was ever tempted to actually hit me – he just liked to let his temper out by punching inanimate objects.  Whereas my dad clearly punched inanimate objects because he wished those objects were my head.  Still; both of them intimidated me via screaming and violence.  And both of them have – at one time or another – gotten right up in my face and screamed “I’M NOT THE BAD GUY!!!  WHY DO YOU ALWAYS ACT LIKE I’M THE BAD GUY?!?!?” because I cringed away from them during one of their tantrums and this offended them.

Minx wasn’t like my dad at all, as far as I can figure, and that led me to believe that I was finally free of these lingering echoes.

But The Pedant…oh god, The Pedant.

The Pedant has this very animated way of telling anecdotes where he’ll imitate people’s accents and voices.  Some people can do this and come off super-cool and funny; The Pedant is not one of those people.  He does the accents and voices badly, and it comes across as offensive rather than like he’s just trying to set the atmosphere for his story.  And yet he throws himself into his storytelling full-force – no hesitation or self-consciousness at all – and I think he believes he’s being super-cool and funny.  He’s not, though; he’s missing the mark, and it makes me cringe in embarrassment for him.  All of which feels a little bit…familiar.  My dad used to do the exact same thing.

And he also constantly offers to do things for me that I can do for myself (and some things that I can’t).  The intent behind it is different, I think; I don’t get a vibe that he wants to make me dependent on him, only that he likes to be helpful.  But nonetheless I suspect the whole “No, wait, I can do that for you!” thing is one of the traits of his that sucked me in, and that it sucked me in because it was what I was used to from my dad.

And it occurred to me the other day that I happen to have the same psychological disorders going on as my mom – depression, social anxiety, etc. – while The Pedant is Aspie, just like you-know-who.  Is my shitty subconscious trying to recreate my parents’ relationship?!?

…Okay, probably not.  The defining thing about my parents’ relationship is that my dad is/was extremely jealous, clingy, and verbally and physically abusive and my mom just kind of desperately tried to placate him and stay out of his way.  The Pedant is  pretty much the opposite of jealous, clingy, or abusive.  He’s never tried to frighten or overpower me and I’ve never even heard him raise his voice.  It’s okay.  Deep breaths.

But still.  When does this shit ever stop?  I know I don’t want to be with anyone remotely like my father, and I think I’m consciously avoiding all of his traits in people, but then a new aspect pops up.  WTF, BRAIN?!


*When my dad and I were arguing, he would start deliberately using big words he knew I wouldn’t know; he knew I’d be too proud to stop the argument and ask what they meant, and he liked to watch me flail.  Sometimes, he’d ask me skill-testing questions and then mock me when I didn’t know the answer (especially if he had an audience).  As far as physical strength goes: he thought it was funny to grab my hand in public – so tightly that I couldn’t get away – and then deliberately start walking really really fast so I couldn’t keep up and he was practically dragging me through the street/shopping mall/wherever while I yelled at him to slow down.  Or he’d randomly take my hand and squeeze it to the point of pain while smirking at me and repeatedly asking “Do you want me to break your hand?  Do you want me to break your hand?”  Or he’d instigate playfights with me (my pride and temper made me stay and try to best him instead of walking away…and the one time I did try to walk away, he slapped me on the ass so I’d get enraged and come charging at him again).  I’m pretty sure he broke my tailbone once when he tripped me during one of these melees and I fell on my ass on the kitchen floor.


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6 responses to “Family = destiny?

  1. Fnord

    As you say, The Pedant is really different from your father and your ex-husband. They both have Asperger’s, but in manifests is very different ways. Other than making you cringe, The Pedant’s storytelling seems to be quite distinct from any habits your father and ex had. You even ascribe different causes to the cringing, embarrassment versus intimidation.

    This is a bit of a extrapolation, so feel free to tell me that I’m way off-base, but…

    Based on this post, you pretty clearly have an issue about being dependent on guys. Understandably, since its been a mechanism that people have used to abuse you in the past.

    Based on other recent posts and comments, it seems like you’ve been feeling like you’re more invested in the relationship with The Pedant than he is. And you’ve expressed concern that if you try to step back, either to take some space or to push him into taking more initiative, you won’t be able to go through with it.

    Which sort-of means you are dependent on The Pedant. Not at all in the same way as in your previous, abusive relationships. It’s a totally different need, the contact and intimacy and sex you get from The Pedant. But it’s still a case where you feel like you won’t be able to break off of the relationship.

    Is it possible that the cringing isn’t the only thing about this relationship that feels familiar?

    • Actually, I did mean to suggest that my dad tells horrible, inappropriate anecdotes as well. Apparently I was too subtle and it only looks like I was drawing a comparison between different kinds of cringes. (My ex didn’t share the storytelling thing though.) Perhaps I’ll edit for clarity.

      You’re bang-on about me feeling dependent on The Pedant (for sex, for affection…). I’ve always been really susceptible to romantic love and attention – when I have it, I really, really don’t want to lose it. To a point where I can actually be kind of unhappy with someone but – if they still give me at least some of that validation I crave – I am loath to turn them loose.

      Doesn’t help that it’s so hard to find a regular partner at all, of any kind. For me to find a guy:

      -To whom I’m attracted
      -With whom I click intellectually/emotionally
      -Who’s stable, i.e. sees me on an ongoing basis and doesn’t seem like he’ll ever vanish without notice or explanation

      …is fucking difficult. When I have it, I hang on for dear life.

      Having said that, though, I don’t think this “dependence” on The Pedant is reminding me of the dependence my father encouraged in me. It feels like a very different thing. With my dad (and my ex) I felt like if I didn’t have him, I literally wouldn’t know how to survive. If I didn’t have The Pedant, I’d just be sad and horny.

      I am getting infuriating echoes of, oh, every other time a guy has ever snuggled with me long enough that I began to get used to it. I want to think I’ve grown as a person since I was in high school and would do anything for a boy to notice me and like me, but it seems like I’ve made less progress than I thought.

  2. trillian

    This post made me think I’m sick in the head or something. I’m totally attracted to my dad’s type physically, like any man that has the same green eye/blondish hair/strong thighs/broad chest. The “shorty strong soccer player” type. He used to beat me and my brother, bleeding noses, broken arms, purple eyes (strange how he never hit mom though who just was running around screaming “please don’t hurt them” – thanks mom, btw, lotta help). But the psychological type I like is the total opposite: I ALWAYS fall for totally humble, almost vegetable-like modest and quiet speaking artist guys who never raise their voices and completely comply with anything I say. Odd, odd, odd.
    Or not so much.

    • (strange how he never hit mom though who just was running around screaming “please don’t hurt them” – thanks mom, btw, lotta help)

      OMG, for decades I was angry at my mother for not stopping my dad from terrorizing me. He’d get up in my face and be screaming at me and she’d just cower in the corner. I assumed he never screamed at/pushed/threatened her because he was afraid she would leave if he did – and I was so, so angry she didn’t use that power to protect me.

      Although in my case apparently he was doing that shit to her, too. Just not around me.

      I’m increasingly realizing that everyone probably chooses mates using their parents as a frame of reference in some way, so you’re probably not a sicko. Or else everybody is. 😛

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