Even though my father was around when I was growing up, it didn’t stop me from having daddy issues. The way my relationship with my dad changed over the years is the reason I refuse to date broke men. Let me explain.
My dad and I were besties
When I was younger, my father was my best friend. We used to do everything together. Taking walks, watching soccer games and he even taught me how to record and copy movies on a VCR. He never got mad at me. He used to tuck me in on nights when he was not working late. When he would go away on business trips, I would keep food for him in the freezer so we could enjoy it together when he got back (even though sometimes he’d be gone for a month). As I grew older, he was absent a lot more. Even when he was home, the inside jokes we used to share were no longer funny to him.
I could no longer confide in him, and, eventually, I stopped putting away “nice things” for him. Then my parents got divorced when I was 15. After that I decided to stay with my dad, but our relationship was volatile, and I eventually moved in with my unemployed mom.
I don’t date broke men since my parents divorce
For the past eight years, my father has been an on-and-off feature in my life. His presence is set on shuffle, as he can make appearances three days in a row then disappear for an entire year. Because of this, I learned to be independent of him from a young age. In high school I would befriend rich kids and only date boys from wealthy families, because my mom was really struggling to keep a roof over our heads. My rich friends would give me money and sometimes pay for my school trips when my mom couldn’t afford it.
When I was in college, I would sometimes consider working for underground strip clubs. I thought this way I could send money back home to my mom. But I could never go through with it. My morals never allowed me. Instead, I only dated chartered accountants and engineers. I knew I had very little in common with these types of men, but dated them anyway because they would buy me the things I needed.
The man I loved the most betrayed my trust
Now that I am an adult, I realise that I’m literally done with my father’s disappearing acts. I no longer spend late nights with soaking wet pillows over missed Father’s Days and broken promises and the feeling of wanting to die because my first love, my dad, no longer felt the same way about me. But what I didn’t realise was how much him not being there affected my relationships with the men I date to this day. I’m a sucker for love and dislike placing materialist value on people, but it has become natural for me to think about a man’s financial status before I get into a relationship with him.
I have to consider if he will be able to help me out with basic things like groceries or electricity during the tough months, because I don’t want to be in the same position that my mom was when he left us.
Photography by Abigail Zikhali