Help! I dated my own father

Freya Barr talks candidly of the struggle she endured when she fell in love with her own father

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It all started with ‘Hello’.

Actually, before that there was a hand-written welcoming letter and a Facebook add, but the ‘hello’ definitely came sometime at the beginning.

A three-minute conversation at the ‘Cocktails and Mocktails’ night drew me in further. I wasn’t sure at first whether it was large quantity of juice and cheap vodka I’d consumed that night or if it was love at first sight, but there were certainly butterflies in my stomach when he smiled at me. Before I knew it there was no turning back: I had developed a ragingly inappropriate crush on my college dad.

Try this shit and I give you a life expectancy of about five seconds.

It was forbidden

As term continued, I pursued my feelings, eager to taste the forbidden fruit. I’d formulated the perfect excuse to visit his room and get him on his own. Knocking on his door one night, I burst in with the pretense that I was struggling to fit in with the other Freshers and needed some ‘mature’ company. He seemed to reluctantly accept my advances. ‘If that Oedipus Complex is so wrong, why does this feel so right?’ I asked myself, stifling the thought as he embraced me.

As the weeks continued, the lies began. The people on my corridor would ask me, ‘Where are you off to at this time?’. Unsurprisingly, they swallowed the library excuse like a slippery pill. The most awkward moments would come when they’d pass me coming back from his block at 8am wearing the same clothes and stinking of shame. No amount of Nivea Pure Touch deodorant could cover up the lies.

The lies tore us apart

Seeing him in public was also a struggle. Our eyes would meet over the salad bar in the buttery and I’d want to throw my couscous in the air and jump on him, but I couldn’t. Once I nearly dropped the Sainsbury’s bags I’d carefully balanced on my handlebars when I passed him on my bike – it would have been a milk catastrophe. The thought of it haunts me to this day.

Eventually I realized our forbidden love was a fantasy. No matter how much my heart said ‘yes’, inevitably, society would always say ’no’. I was willing to put up with the judgment that would have followed, had our incestuous misgivings been exposed, but he wasn’t willing to pay that price. On the night he ended it, I ate a whole jar of peanut butter with a spoon. A few weeks (and several jars) later, I began to hit the Cambridge dating scene once again, but the scars remained. I’d been left a single-parent child with a severe daddy-complex.

In happier times...

In happier times…

Now it’s been a year, the scars (and the urges) have faded…when we pass in the college green, I make polite conversation, but I don’t let myself yearn for his fatherly embrace.

Once I’d summoned up the courage to be open about my first-term love interest, gradually other Freshers like myself began to come out of the woodwork with their own college mother/father crushes. I hadn’t realized until then how common it was – I’d felt like a freak, but it seems I wasn’t the only one to fall for the charms of my college dad. It’s easy to be seduced by all that wise, confident second-year charm when you’re a fresh-out-of-the-womb Fresher.

If you too find yourself a Fresher affected by this plight, don’t be afraid to speak out – talk to a new friend, an old friend, your real parents, Frank, The Tab…

Anyone will do: just don’t let yourself get caught in the web of lies like I did.