As i knocked the water bottle over and it cascaded onto the notebook Chris gave me for Christmas, my first reaction was to yell “shit!” repeatedly and try to wipe it off.

An hour later when i looked at it, I saw that all the curled elfish writing on the ver had disappeared. All I could think then was what an accurate parallel could be drawn between the gift and the relationship with the man who gave it to me.

On Friday, I’d been chatting online with a cute, bearded guy. As we messaged in the evening, he both joked how much fun it would be if he came over for a spooning. Then he did. As he lay in my bed, holding me to his bare chest, I suddenly remembered the sheer joy of just feeling close to someone. Then his hands began to roam, and boy did he know how to use them. I lay on my back, panting in ecstasy  as he teased me until I came. We cuddled some more and then he put on his trousers and left. Naturally there’s been no word from either of us.

It was fantastic.

As someone who spends his days working with children with behavioural problems in Crystal Palace, I think the chances of it working out are slim to nil. Is it wrong that I feel like I just can’t be with someone that nice?

How nice is too nice?

I spent Saturday with Tom and Jim, where Jim pointed out my principal flaw; that I go for men who are emotionally unavailable.

Like a bolt from the blue, I suddenly realised that he might be right. All the men I can remember dev loping the deep feelings for, Chris, Will, Ivan, have all had a degree of distance to them. It was then that I realised what links them all together. The biggest, ‘D’ of them all: Dad.

Growing up, to say my Father was emotionally distant is an understatement. To say that we didn’t understand each other is to understate the understatement. He was also strong, masculine, practical and incredibly intimidating. In other words, everything I’m now attracted to. The only thing I’ve been attracted to which my Dad has never had is a beard.

Is it sick, or scientific?

They say all our male relationships are judged against our Father. They say that any emotional abuse we suffered as children is re-interpreted in our subconscious as “love”, the safe and loving environment we were supposed to have in our family is warped into what we pursue in our adult relationships.

Is that what I’ve been doing?

Have I really been pursuing men who show me the same cold shoulder as my Father did for so many years? And if it is a viscous cycle, how do we break out of it?

Does making peace with your emotional state mean opening that parental mess box we keep locked in our heads? Perhaps Jim was right, and I had been chasing emotionally unavailable men. Perhaps my own diagnosis was right and they were really just different versions of the Dad I wish I’d had growing up. On the flip-side I’m sure he sometimes wishes I had been the child he’d wanted too.

Is it, I wonder, a conscious decision to throw off such shackles and reclaim yourself for yourself? Saying “daddy issues” is such a cliche, but a small part of me suspects that such feelings of inadequacy, and thus chasing poisonous relationships, but stem from ourselves. Can you heal a lack of parental love with self love?

Or does it mean eventually marrying an investment banker at 35, filling the void with all the material things you never had in lieu of the closeness you always craved?

My friends joke about me being a “daddy chaser”, enjoying being the plaything of older, dominant me, and dominating them in turn too. I enjoy the warmth and comfort which comes from it. Something ,yes, that I lacked for many years. But perhaps it’s time to open a new chapter in life; a chapter without the shadow of daddy hanging over it. My father and I will never be close, perhaps, but we’re not estranged either.

Maybe I’ve been going about relationships all wrong, and before I dare to hope that a man can give me his heart, I have to give myself my own.

I’ve spent the last 2.5 years building a life for myself here in London, at the other end of the country from an oftentimes dysfunctional home that I grew up in, full of pain and repression. Perhaps it’s time we stop judging the men that we fall in love with by the “d” word,

And start judging them against someone far more important to the present: ourselves.


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