Lessons My Imperfect Father Taught Me About Love

shutterstock_137185697My father and my mother had an on-and-off relationship, mostly due to my father's philandering. Once their marriage was officially over with no chance at reconciliation, Mami packed our bags and we relocated to Lawrence, Massachusetts. That's when my relationship with my father took a turn for the worst. He stopped calling. He stopped showing up.

Three months into our living in Lawrence, my father had abandoned his children all together. 

His abandonment affected me much later in life. It all came to a head when I began dating. I attracted men who were as unavailable as my father. I was repeating a cycle. I didn't know how to stop the nauseating merry-go-round that was my love life. That is until I hit my thirties. 

Biologically, I don't know what happens to a woman at 30. But that's when I chose to look at life and love differently, including my relationship with my father. I began to believe in manifestation and the Law of Attraction. I grew tired of blaming my folks for my mistakes and my heartbreak. I changed my mindset. 

Instead of focusing on how awful my father was, why not realize that he did the best he could? What did my father do right and what he has taught me about love and dating? 

Well, he helped make me. And he was and still is very affectionate. Because of his affection, Papi taught me that men show love in different ways. And that I need affection in a relationship. I also need to hear words of affirmation. I won't be fulfilled in a relationship unless a man compliments me and tells me that he adores me. That's because my father has never been short on words. He says, "I love you," every time we speak. It isn't often but it's better than silence.

Papi is also a great dancer, hence my love of dance and my fondness for Latino men who can salsa like the pros. He is a charmer; everyone loves him. I want my future husband to charm me, just like Papi. And my father is truly great with people. That's so important when I date a man, that he is comfortable in any setting. If I ever go on a date with a man who is too timid, there won't be a second date. 

But, most importantly, Papi, and his relationship with my mother, taught me to ask for what I want in a relationship. I can also smell inconsistency and flaky men a mile away. When I meet a man, I sense for qualities of reliability, responsibility, along with tenderness and affection. My father may not have had the former, but he taught me that the bad and the good make up a man. No one is perfect, and I needed to learn that lesson. My future husband won't be perfect either.  

So, if I end up with a man who reminds me of my father, I am okay with it. I realize that Papi is human. Maybe he just did the best that he could, as we all do. And so I focus on his goodness, not his mistakes.

What did you father teach you about love? Is your partner like your dad?