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Just realised this is probably not normal to feel this about my dad

(32 Posts)
dontknowwhatthisis Sat 15-Nov-14 22:03:25

I've always felt really really uncomfortable about my dad touching me. It creeps me out immensely. When saying hello or goodbye he kisses on the lips and I hate it. I am in my 40s now and he is in his 70s but I have always felt this way.

I also hate the way he will touch my waist when hugging, in a sort of lingering way, it makes me shudder. And I remember a few specific times when I was younger when he touched me in a certain way, for instance walking behind me at the dinner table and he would touch my back, and he sort of trailed his fingers along it. It just felt creepy, not fatherly at all. I hate it. And I hate thinking about it and I've sort of freaked myself out now, and I thought tonight, "I hate kissing him and I never want him to touch me ever again." And now I don't know what to do.

We don't see him very often. Maybe every 2 months or so? I don't expect I will do anything, just carry on gritting my teeth, but I feel very strongly that women should never have to put up with being touched in a way that they don't like, and it upsets me to think that I've been doing it for years and will probably have to go on doing it for the rest of my dad's life.

I just wanted to tell someone, really. I spoke to dp about it briefly but I think he was taken aback and not surprisingly, had no idea what to say.

Any help untangling this would be appreciated.

Levantine Sat 15-Nov-14 22:09:49

Really well done for saying it out loud. I don't mean to sound patronising at all and I totally get what you're saying. I'm sure others will have more advice but my immediate instinct is firstly that you don't have to see him every two months, or at all if you don't want to in fact. Secondly, you would probably benefit a lot from some talking therapy with someone good who can help you untangle what this is about and where else less obvious in your life it may have had an impact.

dontknowwhatthisis Sat 15-Nov-14 22:16:17

I am not able to cut down contact any more. I have enormous issues with my mother, which I am dealing with in counselling. I just have never specifically admitted how I feel about my dad touching me before, out loud, not even to myself, not more than a fleeting,' ugh, I hate this'.

Thank you for your acceptance, but, I mean, what are we saying here? He's never done anything more than kiss me (briefly) in a way I don't like or touch me (briefly) in a way I don't like. Occasional comments when I was a teenager that made me feel uncomfortable and that I found inappropriate but were probably just social awkwardness - he is very shy and socially inept. I am really struggling to make head or tail of my feelings. But thank you for not... I don't know, laughing, or telling me to get a grip.

ajandjjmum Sat 15-Nov-14 22:17:00

Do you feel that when he touches you in a way you're uncomfortable with, you could say 'you've always made me feel uncomfortable when you've done that - please don't do it again'?

I don't get the kissing on the lips with anyone but DHs/DPs, but I know that to some people it's normal - but again, if you're not comfortable with this, you have to say so.

How is he with you apart from this? Is he kind and thoughtful?

HumblePieMonster Sat 15-Nov-14 22:18:48

Just tell him. Or keep at arms length.

Kissing and touching you, in ways you don't like, is enough for you to avoid it.

It doesn't have to mean more than that. Or, he might be a creepy father who gets something sexual out of it. Either way, you can stand well back.

NoArmaniNoPunani Sat 15-Nov-14 22:21:33

I know what you mean. My grandad was like that. It sounds as though he's doing it on purpose, would you say that's the case?

dontknowwhatthisis Sat 15-Nov-14 22:23:54

"Do you feel that when he touches you in a way you're uncomfortable with, you could say 'you've always made me feel uncomfortable when you've done that - please don't do it again'?"

No, I don't think I do. It sounds totally reasonable, and I'd support anyone else who wanted to say it, but I suppose the subtext is "because there is something wrong with touching me like that, so there is something wrong with YOU."

It feels sort of secretive. It's never when we're alone, because we never ARE alone. He won't even talk on the phone to me for longer than about 2 minutes, so it's not like he shows any sort of unusual interest in me or anything. I think it is quite possibly his awkward way of showing affection. But I loathe it, and now I have consciously said so, I'm not sure I can submit to it any more.

HumblePie, I'm not sure how I would keep him at arm's length without making some sort of statement about it. It's very awkward.

Levantine Sat 15-Nov-14 22:24:56

I didn't men to imply that there is more to it, just that if it makes you feel uncomfortable and always has done and you are now articulating it in your forties, it may have had an impact elsewhere - because you haven't been able to say no, stop it, I don't like it. That's enough to warrant looking at it in my opinion.

Levantine Sat 15-Nov-14 22:26:04

mean not men obviously.

Coffeeinapapercup Sat 15-Nov-14 22:27:38

You have a right to be touched in a way you feel happy with. Doesn't matter who it is.

It's the old no and "no thank you" is a complete sentence. As others have said keep at arms length otherwise a polite "no thank you, I value my personal space"

dontknowwhatthisis Sat 15-Nov-14 22:29:35

" It sounds as though he's doing it on purpose, would you say that's the case?"

Well, yes, it feels purposeful rather than accidental when it happens. That's the creepy bit, I would say.

But rationally, I can't say that's the case. What would that mean? That's he's trying to creep me out? Or that he is getting something sexual from it? I can't actually believe either of those.

Levantine, yes, I see. Thank you for explaining. I'm sure you're right. I was wondering if you thought it implied anything else because of course that is what I am wondering myself. But there's no evidence of... anything. Just me being awkward and out of step, probably. Which would be a theme.

InanimateCarbonRod Sat 15-Nov-14 22:30:47

I have much the same issue with my Mother except her behaviour has recently changed. She's never been emotionally available, no hugs, kisses or I love you. I never heard her say that. Recently as I was hanging up the phone she said "love you" I just quickly said ok bye and hung up.

Now she keeps saying it and trying to hug and kiss me when she comes to see me and when she's leaving. It makes me grimace and I hate her touching me. I've no advice but I just wanted to let you know you're not alone.

dontknowwhatthisis Sat 15-Nov-14 22:31:42

" As others have said keep at arms length otherwise a polite "no thank you, I value my personal space"

I really agree everyone has the right to say this, but I can't imagine the effect this might have after 40 years of going along with it, to suddenly announce I don't want to be touched.

I am surprised and grateful people haven't just said not to be silly and just to put up with it.

Levantine Sat 15-Nov-14 22:31:49

Or him being awkward and out of step and you being too concerned about hurting his feelings to point it out to him flowers

dontknowwhatthisis Sat 15-Nov-14 22:32:59

Inanimate that sounds very uncomfortable. I can imagine how it feels after years of not being warm towards you.

MarthaCostello Sat 15-Nov-14 22:33:25

I'm sorry you are going through this. It dos sound a bit odd, even if not sexually motivated. You shouldn't have to put up with anyone touching you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable.

If you really don't want to say anything, could you pretend you have cold sores so can't kiss as don't want to pass the virus on?! Or a cold/mouth ulcer that makes your lips sore/anything similar. And with the hugging you could try and hug him first in a different position (arms under his maybe so his have to go round your upper back rather than waist?) so that he can't hug you in the usual way. You could possibly do the same with the kiss, go for the cheek before he has a chance to go for your lips.

I'm not saying that because I think you should put up with it, or protect his feelings, but if you really want to avoid saying anything then there may be ways around it. If he still tries to kiss you or touch you in a way you don't like after the excuses then you might be able to reconsider saying something. You don't have to say anything about it being creepy, you could just say you don't like it.

nannyj Sat 15-Nov-14 22:35:52

I felt the same about my dad and I think it was because he was emotionally abusive to us and I didn't have a normal father /daughter relationship with him. I really think he had no idea how to act with me because of our lack of relationship and kind of treated me as an extension of my mum if that makes sense?

I never said anything as I hadn't really realised I felt like that as my emotions were so mixed up about my dad. But I feel for you it's horrible and very difficult to stand up to your parents when you've had a lifetime of conditioning to accept things the way they are. I totally understand why you wouldn't be able to say anything.

dontknowwhatthisis Sat 15-Nov-14 22:41:00

"him being awkward and out of step and you being too concerned about hurting his feelings to point it out to him"

Yes, that is a good explanation and sort of reassuring. I hate the thought that there might be anything sinister in it, or that I am even considering that there is anything sinister in it, but it just feels odd and so uncomfortable and always has. However what you suggest could well be the case and is innocent and more easily dealt with. Thank you so much for your kindness, Levantine.

" but if you really want to avoid saying anything then there may be ways around it"

Martha, thank you! Your suggestions really make sense.

nannyj, I am sorry to hear about your experiences. Thank you for your understanding, it does help.

SageSeymour Sat 15-Nov-14 22:45:47

I agree with Martha. If you really can't say anything then say you have a viral infection of the throat / herpes / glandular fever. Anything a bit infectious sounding

dontknowwhatthisis Sat 15-Nov-14 22:50:01

Sage, I think I may do. But I can't say that for the rest of my life, can I?

springydaffs Sat 15-Nov-14 23:11:54

Or you could use the 'when you/I feel' model. Eg I wouldn't start it with 'you' but with 'I': 'I feel uncomfortable when you kiss me on the lips, can we kiss on cheeks instead?'

Imo starting with 'you' is attacking. If he is socially awkward and just getting it hideously wrong, it would sound like you're accusing him of something. When what you are saying is I feel uncomfortable.

SageSeymour Sat 15-Nov-14 23:13:47

No. You can't. But these things linger don't they? And if you trot it out for a few months then it may become the norm to not kiss as a greeting

MarthaCostello Sat 15-Nov-14 23:24:53

The I feel thing springy mentions is good too, I always try to use that when I'm discussing any problems as it's less accusing, so the other person is less likely to be defensive. If you could work up to discussing it then that might be better.

The problem with the cold sore thing would be that obviously it's for life so you'd have to keep it up and it might come out at some point so then if your dad realised what was going on he might be upset.

To avoid that, you could always have a sore throat/virus. "I can't believe I've got another virus, I don't want to infect you so I will just give you a quick peck on the cheek". Then you can just claim bad luck or being run down. You could even phone ahead to check it is still OK to visit so that it is less obviously linked to the kissing.

After a few visits, the kissing on the cheek and new position hugging might become habit anyway. You could even say after a while "I much prefer kissing on the cheek".

velourvoyageur Sun 16-Nov-14 07:33:40

If you are uncomfortable, please do not put up with it. You don't need to and you shouldn't!

He is 70, not dead, he can change his behaviour. If he were going to die tomorrow, you would still be totally in your rights to tell him to stop today, just to avoid it happening one more time. A simple "I'd prefer you not to do that", very emotionless, is all you owe him as an explanation.
No offense to anyone, but it's perfectly fine to tell the truth and not have to protect his feelings talking about herpes etc.

I completely understand and I'm sensing a bit of guilt from your posts- it doesn't matter if your dad is totally innocently doing this stuff, the point is YOU don't like it, for whatever reason (something in your subconscious probably, and in case this reassures, I wouldn't like it at all myself), and there should be no guilty feelings about helping yourself feel comfortable.

Put it another way, if you had a chronic anxiety problem and something as innocuous as shaking hands with a colleague made you feel weird and out of sync, even if you saw it as irrational, wouldn't you give yourself permission to stop doing it? You don't have to force yourself.

FWIW I think you have just absorbed what is the norm re: what kind of touching is usual in families and what isn't. For you what he does has a different nature so feels odd. It's to do with associations formed in childhood probably. We have these distinctions for a reason, they help us to classify and identify our feelings for different people and it's perfectly normal and healthy.

Makes me sad and a bit cross (not at you, at the situation) when you talk about carrying on gritting your teeth. Please think about reconsidering?

DustBunnyFarmer Sun 16-Nov-14 07:49:23

Or you could use the 'when you/I feel' model. Eg I wouldn't start it with 'you' but with 'I': 'I feel uncomfortable when you kiss me on the lips, can we kiss on cheeks instead?'

I think this is a good approach, except for the "can we" - I would be saying "I would rather we.." Don't ask for permission - tell! If he persists, it underlines the fact he is motivated by his own needs. Any normal person would immediately desist from doing something that makes the other person uncomfortable.

And I get where you are coming from entirely. Had an older male relative who used to do this and it made me feel uncomfortable too.

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