Psych Central

Dad’s Bugging Me to Date

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Every time I see my dad, the first thing he asks is if any guys are chasing me. He thinks that I need a boyfriend. I’m a Sophomore in college and haven’t had one since my Junior year of high school. I’m fine with not having a boyfriend, though it would be nice to have one. But he is very concerned and is acting like he thinks there is something wrong with my personality, so I need to rely on my looks to get a guy.

My dad is always harping on about my appearance. I am an average weight, maybe even a bit on the skinny side. Yet he comments on everything that I eat and asks if I’m trying to lose weight. When I say no, he asks why. And I don’t tend to try as hard with my appearance at home, if I’m not going anywhere. During my spring break, I didn’t wear makeup or do my hair for just one day, and I overheard my dad talking to my mom about how he’s worried I’m letting myself go. He said that I dress below average (which I don’t; I just am not the type of girl to wear a ton of makeup or try extra hard. But even so, I am probably the dressiest of my friends) and that I will probably not find someone because guys need “bait” to get interested in a woman. He doesn’t know that I heard all of that, but it makes me feel horrible about myself.

And now all 6 of my friends on campus have boyfriends, so I’m the only one that doesn’t. Maybe it wouldn’t bother me, but after hearing my dad say all of this stuff, I start to think that maybe there is something wrong with me. I am a very shy person, and I do feel especially awkward around guys. I’m kind of worried that I will never find someone because no one will want to put in the effort to get to know me, as it will surely take awhile since I’m reclusive. My sister told me that my dad asked her if any guys are interested in me at school. She said she didn’t think so, and he said that maybe it was time that they did something about it. I have no idea what that even means. Maybe he’s thinking of setting me up with someone? It kind of makes me feel ridiculously pathetic. I just don’t know how to feel okay about myself when my dad acts like there is something wrong with me for not having a guy.

A: There is nothing wrong with you. There is something very wrong with your dad’s over-involvement with your relationship status. Beyond quietly wishing you the happiness of having a relationship someday, it is none of his business. He has some odd ideas about what makes women attractive to men. He has an equally odd idea about what your priorities should be at this stage of your life. I would hate to think that we women need to “hook” a man in order to be okay. That kind of thinking went out at least 50 years ago.

Your letter shows you to be a normal, healthy young woman who would be fine if her dad would just leave the subject of romance alone. There is nothing unusual or inappropriate about not having a boyfriend at your stage in life. Both men and women are getting serious about relationships older. The average age of marriage for women now is 26.5 and for men is 28.4. The days when people felt they needed to be married to be adults, to have financial security, or to have sex, are long over. You have plenty of time. Even though your girlfriends are beginning to find men they call “boyfriend,” it doesn’t mean that all these relationships will last. My guess is that your girlfriends will try out a number of relationships before deciding they’ve found the person they want to spend life with. You’ll probably do the same.

You didn’t mention your mother in the letter. If she’s also bothered by your dad’s over-concern, perhaps you can enlist her help in getting your dad to back off. Ditto for your sister. He needs to be told that his comments are out of line. He should instead be celebrating that he has a bright, sensible daughter who likes herself fine.

If you are worried about meeting guys because you are shy and reclusive, that’s a different story. In that case, I would encourage you to get involved in some volunteer work or a cause or a club or a job where you will get to know people over time because you are all focused on getting something done. That’s a more natural and productive way for a shy person to find like-minded people than trolling for guys at a bar or using the personals.

Please don’t let your father’s comments get you down.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Apr 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Dad’s Bugging Me to Date. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/04/23/dads-bugging-me-to-date/