So, we all want to marry our father do we?

// 13 June 2007

Fairy tales and popular culture have long promoted the concept of the ‘daddy’s girl,’ the infallible little angel and the over-protective patriarch who believes she’s sweeter than a doughnut. For those of us who know what it’s like to be the apple of our father’s eye, it’s not an unpleasant state of being. But according to a report by the BBC, an investigation conducted by a psychologist at Durham University has determined that many of us cannot help but use our closeness to our fathers as a means of deciding whether a prospective partner is a keeper.

The research, led by Dr Lynda Boothroyd, found that a woman who was treated well by her father during her childhood was likely to be attracted to men who resembled her father physically. The same could not be said of a woman who had bad relations with her dad, although the research did not conclude that they were actively not attracted to those who resembled their father – it was just not a consideration for these women.

It is believed that these findings will help to determine how counselling can be used to help with relationships, and also give a greater insight into the internal machinations that dictate our attraction to certain types of people, and our dislike for others. Traditionally our preference to specific partners has been linked to our desire to find the perfect parent for our offspring, someone who would bring some pretty fine genes to the table, although these finding indicate that this process is considerably more emotionally involved. Although perhaps our desire to find a partner resembling our father is indicative of a narcissistic desire to produce children not dissimilar to ourselves? Although maybe that’s a can of worms best left closed for the moment.

Women who participated in the study were asked to rate the attractiveness of certain men alongside their assessment of their relationship with their fathers. The team then compared the facial measurements and features of the photographs of those the women found attractive with images of their fathers.

But is this not just a natural reaction? If someone is kind to you, treats you well, is it not normal that we would be emotionally inclined to gravitate towards those who are similar. Has not the same been said of men in the past? That men cannot but help be attracted to those women who bare a physical likeness to their mothers? The Oedipus myth, and the complex coined by Freud (as well as the Electra complex), would certainly act as testament to this fact, and as our parents are the first people through which we learn about the position of men and women in this world, then is it not understandable that when we roll on out into the big wide world on our lonely lonesome that our relationships will be determined and influenced by those that were more significant during our formative years? The findings of this investigation are very interesting, although in many respects all it has done is provide empirical evidence for something common sense would dictate as being the case.

Photo by foreversouls, shared under a Creative Commons License

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