What to do when you’re attracted to someone like your abusive parent

HoneyBunny asks: I want to have a stable relationship. I will tell you something about my family background first, as many people keep on saying that my mind is unstable because of my family issues. So my mum and dad got separated 7 years ago, and my dad got into a relationship with some other lady, and my mum got married and has started staying with her husband in another city. She does provide me everything, but her presence is what I crave. I have no contact with my real father or his family. And I was in a relationship with a guy and we ended up because he was apparently cheating on me. And I like someone now but that guy is just like my real father. I don’t want myself to fall for him, because he isn’t doing any job – he drinks a lot, and even abuses a lot, but still I am very much attracted to him. Please suggest something.

Hi HoneyBunny –


This is really unfair!  This is too many awful things happening to you all at once!  I can’t even tell if you’re living with an adult now, or if you’re too young to be living that way, and … ARRGH it’s just not right!


So I have to say, it makes TOTAL sense that you would be drawn to a man who reminds you of your father.  You have a deep need for this man who has disappeared from your life, and are trying to replace him with someone similar.


What’s GREAT is that you’re aware of the guy’s problems, and especially that they are the same as your dad’s.


I just sent out a newsletter with a piece on this exact issue – what to ask yourself before dating someone.  If you didn’t get it, you might want to look at it: https://askshirelle.com/2019/02/15/twenty-questions-avoid-dating-problems/


But in the meantime, you have a bigger job, which is to find out how to get what you need from a guy who doesn’t have these flaws.


What I want you to do is to write down two lists.  Both are about your father.  The first list is everything you like or love about him.  I know right now that’s hard, because his abandoning you makes you not want to feel them.  But still, try, and write them down.  Then write a list of everything you don’t like, that you hate, that you fear, about him.


Your wish for someone like your dad is not wrong.  But I want you to use those lists in your search.  You want to find someone with as many items as possible from the FIRST list, and as few as possible from the second.


And you have the right to say that you have Dealbreakers.  You told me three.  How about you say “I will only date a man who has a job, who is never abusive, and who either doesn’t drink or has it under control.”  Now some people might say the “abusive” part is too vague – do you mean he never hits you or he never gets angry (which is kind of impossible) ? – but otherwise, that shouldn’t be too hard.


And when you find yourself attracted to men who drink too much, or abuse, just think of your attraction as being like their attraction to liquor:  There’s nothing wrong with being attracted to it, as long as you can control yourself.  Acknowledge the men are attractive, and walk away from them.  Just as your ideal man would say “I’d love a third beer, but I have to drive so I won’t have it.”  Or “I’m so angry I’d love to scream and smash things, but I know that would scare HoneyBunny so I won’t do it, and I’ll find another way to deal with these feelings.”


You can do it, HoneyBunny!  I know you can!  And if you find yourself getting involved with a man who isn’t right for you, that doesn’t mean you’ve failed – it just means you need to start over again.  Just like the guy who has too many drinks; he needs to start handling it better now.


But I know what I’m saying isn’t easy.  Because you’ve had too many crummy things happen to you!


Just hold on to the beautiful dream of what life can be when you have taken control of your life and cut out the destructive people.  It’s all great from there on!


BEST wishes with this,


About the Author

Leave a Reply 0 comments

Leave a Reply: