What my father taught me about love


I came to understand this week that my relationship with my father has encouraged me to have high expectations in my romantic relationships. I’m not suffering from a prolonged Electra complex. I do not want to marry my father. I also would not want the husband my father is to my mother. I did not see love or learn of its magic, by the way my father was a husband to my mother. Observing my mother as a wife, I saw a woman that did not feel like she was loved.

I learned about love not because my father spoke with me affectionately. The first time my father told me he loved me was in 2015; I was 28.  But I did not spend 3 decades waiting for my father to declare his love for me. I had long concluded that my quiet, strange, mathematician father would probably never utter those words; however, I did not feel inadequate and I did not feel unloved.

It was through my dad’s quiet smile and a reassuring tap on my head when I was disciplined by my mother that I learned of his ability to love deeply. When he would wake me at 4am (per my request–He and my mother would do this) so I could finish studying for an exam. Or the fact that he would drive me to school on days I had math tests because he knew I was an anxious soul. His non-disappointment with a (rare) B+ and his silent celebration of an A+.

Though I kept much of my darkness from my father, he believes that I confide in him, which I do, however selectively. My father is not one to avoid conversation even though he can present as someone who does not like conversing.

My father has always been available to me. I have never had to worry about whether it’s the right time to call or how my efforts at communication might be perceived. Confused yet sympathetic toward my insomnia, my dad has always encouraged me to call him when my body refuses to engage in little deaths, “If you can’t sleep or you just want to talk, call me. Don’t worry about the time. I am retired. I have all day to sleep”.

My father has been present in my moments, big or small. On my first day of undergrad, my father called me to wish me good luck. Despite his fear of flight, he traveled to New York from Ghana to help me prepare for Columbia. On the first day of grad school, again, he wished me good luck. Mostly recently, my first day of my new job, my father called to wish me good luck, and again to inquire about my first day. I can rely on my father.

My father is patient with me. He’s aware of ‘my ways’ and does not make me apologize for who I am ( or am not). He knows I am quietly stubborn.

Father’s are important for many reasons (as are mothers). Your father is the first man in your life. In my experience at least, my relationship with my father helped shape my interpretation of what a strong, romantic relationship might look like.

Through my relationship with my father, I learned not to take anyone for granted. I learned not to make the assumptions that are the pitfalls of relationships–that someone is always going to be there.

My father has made me feel valued and important, even on days we do not communicate. I know I am on his heart and in his mind, and I do not waiver in my belief of this. I suppose, in a sense, one could think it’s unreasonable to expect to have this bond with another man. But I disagree. I think it is possible and I think it’s important to have in all adult relationships, platonic ones included.

My father does not love me because I am of him or  half him. If love were only the result of the collision of egg and sperm, I reckon, it would be a much different world. As humans, we have the power of choosing how to love.



Picture credit: http://blackartinamerica.com/photo/father-and-daughter?xg_source=activity