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Dr Nielson compares it to food shopping when half-starved.She says, “If you go into a grocery store when you’re hungry, you’ll come out with junk food.We don’t wish to be – as Lancashire-based chartered clinical psychologist Dr Rachel Andrew puts it – “a gender stereotype”.I certainly didn’t choose a man like my father, splutters one acquaintance, aghast, “I purposely went for the complete opposite!He was protective, doting; there was an element of wonder. There wasn’t open emotion or talking about feelings. If I needed support, he’d always listen to me, back me, and respect me.” Thanks to that tender example, Charlotte only chose men who loved her without question: “It’s possibly why I went for older men too.My husband is quiet, calming, with a big sense of humour. He knows how to talk to me, he understands me – just like my father.” She adds, “Some women fear men, some women don’t trust men.“If you have a good relationship with your dad, then you’re not desperate for male approval: you’ve already got it.If you’re used to being well-treated by your father, and you don’t have to be perfect for him to love you, that’s what you’ll expect from other men.” Sadly, the opposite is also true.
Hardly surprising, then, that most women, myself included, shudder at the very idea of confusing the roles of father and lover.
But I’ve always regarded the man in my life to be totally trustworthy, and I’ve never had problems.” Dr Linda Nielsen – psychology professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, and author of Between Fathers and Daughters – agrees that the dynamic of this fundamental relationship reverberates throughout women’s lives.