Which is Worse? A Bad Relationship or No Relationship At All

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CAUTION: I unintentionally made this article about my daddy issues. You’ve been warned.

Which is worse: a bad relationship or no relationship at all? Does a bad relationship mean at least you two are putting some amount of effort toward each other? Or does no relationship mean you care enough about each other to leave each other the hell alone?

I had a conversation with a coworker recently about her poor relationship with her son. She described it as a “bad” relationship, the same way I used to describe my relationship with my father only for very different reasons. While the fault in their relationship stemmed from drug abuse, ours was more emotional and mental. My Dad never made me feel loved. He made me feel like I was downright annoying. Yes, most kids are actually quite annoying, but he was especially insensitive and lacked any empathy. Without meaning to, he tarnished every future relationship with a guy I would ever have while also destroying the little bit of self-confidence I started out with. But, the story of how he affected my nature in other relationships is for another day. My point here is that our relationship made me cry. A lot. Sometimes I would lash out at him and he would just say something that made me feel stupid, making my young self feel like our relationship meant nothing to him.

Something changed during my senior year of high school. Not in him, but in me. I kind of just accepted the fact that he would never be the “father figure” I was looking for. I realized that this fatherly instinct just doesn’t come naturally to him and I can’t stay mad at him for that. It’s not something that will change and my anger was just weighing me down. So I let it go. Suddenly, his in-sensitivities stopped harboring my insecurities. Suddenly, we stopped fighting and I stopped crying. Suddenly, we went from having a bad relationship to having no relationship at all.

We now have little to no communication and it’s been that way since I moved out for college seven years ago. There’s the occasional happy birthday text and we’ll talk a little when I go home to visit for the weekend. But other than that, Dad Who? And to be honest, I ain’t even mad. I’m not upset about having no relationship with my dad. My relationship with my mom made up for it ten-fold, anyway.

So, which is worse? Or, which is better? Sometimes it will bum me out to think that I was right about him not caring about our relationship- there has been no attempt of reconciliation on his end. But, even though this lack of a relationship has brought me nothing, it has taken away a lot. No more anger, no more tears, no hurt feelings or feeling unwanted. I carry a lot less anger around with me. In fact, this taught me how to let pretty much anything go. Now I know better than to expect something from someone when they can’t offer it to begin with. Maybe I don’t have the father figure I always wanted but I do know exactly what not to look for in a guy. Basically our bad relationship made me feel a lot of bad things and, when that relationship ended, it brought me peace. So, I guess I just answered my own question, for now

Mary Caitlin