My Latest Boyfriend Is Just Like Dad

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Smiling father and daughter
How author Sarah Showfety ended up with a man cut from the same cloth as dear ol' Dad.

For most of my 15-year dating career, I went for Fledglings, Makeshift Men, pre-release beta tests of the fully formed adult male. Like Rusty, the dread-locked guitarist with groupies to spare whom I followed to various smoky, sticky-floored venues in college, hoping he'd recognize me from anthropology class. Guys whose giant charisma, outsider cool or longer-than-purely-business hair stoked my sense of adventure and ate my own—often annoying—level of maturity for breakfast. The Frisky: 10 Types of Emotional Cripples

I was drawn to men who were nothing like the soft-spoken, principled and straight-laced person who had been the dominant male presence in my life so far: my retired CPA father.

Dad, a southerner who thought switching from Shredded Wheat to Fiber One was risky, was known for online tracking the status of every flight I boarded, calling to remind me that my driver's license was up for renewal, and locking his car doors—from the inside—in suburban New Jersey wine store parking lots because, in his words, "I don't want to be the subject of a carjacking." A rule-following, church-going Catholic with old-fashioned values, he never missed a child's soccer game, ran a red light, or went to bed before all his four children were home safe, by 11:30 PM, of course. He was loyal to the same accounting company for 35 years, and has been married to my mom for almost 50. In a word, he's "solid."

Growing up, I couldn't wait to escape my heavily protected cocoon and experience the world—and men—with less predictability and more adventure. This led me to a string of partially finished fellows, unable to figure out what they wanted to be and unwilling to commit to anything but Family Guy re-runs. A struggling writer who lived above a massage parlor and drank Pabst for lunch. A 44-year-old serial bachelor with a roommate. A boisterous, life-of-the-party actor still entangled with his ex. The Frisky: It's Time To Ditch Your Type!

Trouble.

And decidedly unlike my serious, dependable dad. Yet I kept going back for more with Charismatic Unreliables who presented a challenge and kept me painfully guessing where things stood. All drama that I said I hated but actually signed up for by choosing them in the first place. As if the cat and mouse game gave me some outlet from my sheltered existence and an antidote to my own fearful, overly cautious tendencies in life and in love.

So when I was introduced to Kyle, a reserved, suit-wearing banker with a buzz cut, my initial thoughts were, "Cute, but too buttoned up."

He wasn't my "type." In fact he was the opposite of males in my recent quasi-relationships: shy, conventional, pin-striped. Not the flashiest or flirtiest guy in the room. And not, as I found out on our first date a few days later—Saturday night dinner at a trendy restaurant with a reservation—the kind who exhibited the slightest whiff of "player" or expected me to get the tip on our bill.

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