Speaking to Marie Claire Dr. Judith Wright, from Illinois, Chicago, explains that ‘pre-sexual programming’ occurs at a very young age and children learn about relationships ‘based on the way we are treated by their primary caregivers.’
Even if women have had bad relationships with their fathers they will apparently still go for a similar type of man because they think they can ‘fix it and do a better job this time around.’
She added: ‘You might think that you’re dating the extreme opposite to your father, and yet the unconscious mind finds a way of slipping back into what’s comfortable.’
Dr Wright recalls one client she saw who dated wealthy men as a way of rebelling against her father, who had very little money.
However, it transpired that all of the woman’s suitors were ‘distant’ and ‘dishonest’ just like her father had been.
The amount of money they had was irrelevant to their underlying personality traits.
Confirming this pattern, Jennifer Harman, a psychology professor at Colorado State University and co-author of The Science of Relationships, previously told Canada.com: ‘It may or may not be a healthy dynamic, but it feels comfortable.
‘If people don’t have a lot of self-worth because of early parenting, they enter relationships where that person confirms how they already feel about themselves.’
Dr Wright says those who haven’t had a male role model growing up and more likely to be attracted to an older partner.
This is because they’re longing for a responsible, powerful and stable father-figure in their life.
She suggests that they could also be hankering after someone resembling their grandfather, who could have been stepping in as a caregiver.
According to a number of studies, women who have had secure and supportive relationships with their fathers are more likely to be successful on the romantic front.
Affirming this trend Linda Nielsen, a professor of educational and adolescent psychology at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, writes on Family Studies site: ‘A girl who has a secure, supportive, communicative relationship with her father is less likely to get pregnant as a teenager and less likely to become sexually active in her early teens.
‘This, in turn, leads to waiting longer to get married and to have children – largely because she is focused on achieving her educational goals first.’
Nielsen also says the well-fathered daughter is also less likely to suffer from a range of illnesses including depression, anorexia and body dysmorphia.
For those women worried about dating someone just like their father, Dr Wright says that being attracted to someone fatherly isn’t a bad thing.
The most important thing is that the partner shares the father’s best traits and is an ‘improved’ and updated version.
The therapist suggests that women who are struggling romantically should create a list detailing of all the qualities their exes share with their father to find good and bad pointers.
This will help to highlight the positive and negative patterns in a bid to strike a happy balance.
Dr Wright says that counselling can also help people to understand their motivations for picking a particular type of partner.
She concludes: ‘It’s only by separating yourself from [your parents], and seeing your relationship as your new family…. that women can break free from the Electra complex and fully move on.