I’ve always had a troubled, frightened relationship with my dad. My parents constantly fought, hurling verbal abuse. My dad is very controlling of my mom, expecting her to do nothing but cook and clean; he was physically violent toward her. By age 10, I put myself between my parents and got beat up instead. At 18, I called police to arrest him. He was out of the house for two years, but my mom took him back, and the chaos continued. Meantime, I made it to medical school. Despite my early fears of all men, I still want to have romantic relationships. Making male friends in university was a huge step for me. I’ve only dated one guy, for a month; I broke it off, terrified, when we came close to being intimate. I’m afraid I’ll have a terrible marriage like my mom. I find flaws with every man, and so I don’t date anyone. I’m 25, and fear that I’ll never be happily married.
- Seeking a prescription for Happiness
You’ve spent 25 years making sure you were different from your parents. There’s no reason to think that just because you may care for a man, all your strengths and determination will fall away and you’ll end up controlled and miserable. You’ve chosen well, in career and outlook. Now, to make sure you choose well in romance, I urge you to seek individual therapy. Though you’re well aware of the source of your fears, you want to make sure you don’t over-exaggerate normal imperfections in people, and miss the serious danger signs. A professional counsellor will help you develop your own sound judgment on what kind of man can become a trusted, intimate partner.
I’ve been married for two years to my current husband; his daughter, 17 and son, 15, live with us. Something awkward for me is their touchy-feely relationship with their Dad. My step-daughter’s always hanging off him, and giving him kisses on the cheeks - every time she asks him for a favor, leaves the house, goes to bed, or gets money from him, she’ll kiss him. When looking at his computer over his shoulder, she’ll wrap her arms around him and hug for 10-15 minutes. If my husband wasn’t standing close by when speaking to her, he’ll blow her a kiss. My stepson will wrestle with his Dad, slap on him or bear hug him. He’ll also sit on my husband's lap when my husband is watching TV or on the computer. I've mentioned casually to my husband about all this, but he says it’s not odd. Both kids are very dependant on their father and his ex-wife. I don't think there’s anything sexual underlying ... the boy slept in the same bed with his mother or father until he was 12. He’s immature for his age. Is it me, or are these behaviours weird?
- Unusual affection?
A show of affection between parents and teens is not weird, but, when unusually frequent, it can be an expression of neediness and insecurity on the children’s part. Your husband must be the adult setting limits, so that family hugs and horse play are normal expressions of close feeling, rather than kids’ clinging for re-assurance. Dad needs to understand that, unless they learn to achieve some emotional distance, his teenagers may transfer their constant affection-seeking to partners in relationships. Worse, they won’t be secure enough or mature enough to set their own limits. It’s time for Dad to help his children grow up.
My boyfriend of two years has been an amazing step-father to my kids, but though things were great at first, we no longer kiss or hug! Our sexual relations involve no foreplay, only him satisfying himself. He’s also proposed to me but forgot it. He’s introduced me twice by his ex-wife’s name and talks about everything they did together. When I cry or complain, he says the problem is stress, but I don’t want to be where I love more than I'm loved.
- No Snuggling
After the wooing period, all lovers are left with reality. Yours is a guy who can’t share intimacy in everyday living. There’s always stress in relationships – whether from work, pressure to marry, etc. If he won’t talk to you about it, and can’t be more loving, you’re left having to consider him as a family friend and great babysitter, and look elsewhere for a mate.
Tip of the day:
Don’t let fear blind you to how far you’ve come away from a difficult past.