How the death of my father changed my relationships

Dating my father’s reflection


Lilly Flack, Cougars Without Borders assistant editor


One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with is the sudden death of my father in 2011. Since then, everything has altered; from the way I look at boys, to my most recent relationships.

When my father passed away, I was 15 years old and reaching a crucial point of my life: my teenage years. I started looking at the boys around me in a new light as my hormones kicked in. I noticed the girls around me had strong father figures who helped them through this time, teaching them what a gentleman was and the difference between a boy and a man.

Some people say that girls tend to date boys who resemble their fathers and this is exactly what I’ve done. The first serious relationship I had following my father’s death was during my freshman year of college (We’ll call him “Max”). He reminded me of my father in almost every way. I missed my dad more and more everyday, but being with Max filled a gaping hole in my heart.

Max and I would go on similar adventures to the ones I took with my father as a child – long drives and walks through the middle of nowhere. We would talk late into the night or watch Powerpuff Girls on Nickelodeon. It was the nights without adventures, however, that really made me see my father in my boyfriend.

Max would step outside mid-movie to smoke a cigarette and ask to keep the door open so he could watch the film from outside, exactly as my dad had done when I was younger. Unfortunately, Max was similar to my father in not just the good ways, but the bad too. I didn’t realize this until I was already deeply in love with him.

From problems with smoking and drinking to his poor performance in school, Max was an absolute mirror image of my father. One day, he broke up with me out of the blue. The hole in my heart was ripped open again. I hadn’t just lost my boyfriend, but I felt I had again lost a connection to my late father.

Now, looking back, I realize I had lifted Max up and put him on a pedestal, using him to patch up a deeper pain caused by my father’s death in 2011. Through our breakup, I had to deal with my father’s death all over again as I learned that I couldn’t mask my mourning with the love for someone else.

I’ve learned now how to recognize my dad’s traits in the boys I am drawn to, but I know that I will always look for my father in a crowd. Other girls may have their own father figures to help them see through this and find the right man for themselves, but I will have to teach myself and grow from mistakes.

The Cougar Chronicle The independent student news site of California