Freudian Complex: How Our Parents Influence Our Future Relationships

by Kelly Bishop

Freud has a twisted version of this theory. He believes we begin to have animosity toward the same-sex parent when we’re young, because we develop a sexual attraction to the parent of the opposite sex.

According to Freud, that is why in our youth, daughters will begin to argue with their mothers while cozying up to their fathers.

As children, we immediately form a close bond with the parent of the opposite sex. A father is the first male a young girl creates a relationship with, so he inevitably becomes her ideal male (mate) throughout life.

While I don’t entirely agree with his mother/son, father/daughter sex theory, I do believe our initial bond with the opposite sex parent stays with us throughout life, particularly when it comes to picking significant others.

Cue the panic attack.

My father and my brother were the first two men I ever had close connections with. As I got older, I inevitably believed all men should and would treat me just as they did. Without even realizing it, for a long time, I was drawn to men just like them.

In short, they were unreliable, inconsistent, immature addicts. They were never constant with the love or attention they showed me. So yes, they sort of set me up for failure in the romance department.

All the guys I liked or dated were all childish drug users, or heavy drinkers who couldn’t be depended on to follow through with anything. They would be amazing to me one week, and then wouldn’t even bother with me the next.

Even though it hurt deep down, this caused me to accept men who couldn’t love me the way they should. I’m comfortable with a guy who is irresponsible, who takes no initiative, who never expresses how he feels about me or what he thinks is special about me.

I will always suck it up and tell him it’s okay when he has to flake again. I will pretend like I don’t care that I have to put all of the effort into planning every little thing that we do. I will act like I am totally fine always having to be the strong one, picking up the pieces of someone else when I’m completely fractured inside myself.

When a situation or a personal bond becomes so familiar, so comfortable and so normal, we put up with it. We don’t know any better. If we have a certain dynamic in a relationship ingrained in our head since childhood, we won’t know how to accept anything else.

Due to this fact, I never actually learned. I would put all of my time and effort into these broken men who couldn’t take care of me, but whose inconsistencies I tolerated nonetheless. It was what I was used to.

I was ignored, disrespected and brushed to the side. I endured it because I knew nothing else. I’m an independent and capable person who can take care of myself, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want someone to occasionally step up and try to take care of me as well.

That is my reality with men: No matter how hard I may try, I’m simply never going to get what I want from them. I’m never going to get what I know, deep down, I deserve.

This isn’t just me. Everyone does this to some degree or another.

Even the things you may hate about one of your parents, you will most likely see in a significant other. We are unavoidably drawn to what we become accustomed to in our youth.

If you grow up with the only man in your household verbally abusing you and treating you like sh*t, most likely, you will go for the guy who does the same. Even if he's not right for you, it’s what you’re used to.

You accept it, tolerate it and relish in the familiarity.

Even though I knew my dad and my brother weren’t the best male role models, and even though I knew all of the men I’ve ever been drawn to shared their characteristics, this realization still gave me a panic attack.

Because no matter how happy I may be at the beginning of a relationship, I expect the only outcome to be disappointment and failure.

Even if it’s amazing at the start, I await the day it will all fade, and the day I won’t be important anymore. So far, this has been the case every time.

When I found someone new, someone who for once seemed to be the complete opposite of my father, who treated me so well it almost made me uncomfortable, I still expected the same from him. I anticipated his subsequent failure, and I anticipated my disappointment.

This isn’t a fair way to get into a new relationship.

It has made it hard to enjoy the blissful ignorance of the first stages. But I simply have no other way of perceiving my relationships with men. I will always be disappointed by them. I expect nothing else.

Even though he has broken the pattern for me in a huge way, I will always fear the turning point, no matter what.

I will always expect it to go bad. I will always be waiting for the day he doesn’t think I’m special anymore, the day he doesn’t bother to show me he loves me anymore.

I guess I will either end up pleasantly surprised, or proven correct.

I just hope that my addiction to undeserving men will not win once again.