Is There Such Thing As ‘Daddy Issues’?

Damon Young reasons that the age-old excuse for bad behavior as “Daddy Issues” is complete B.S.

Originally appeared at Very Smart Brothas.

“You know, it was just typical daddy issues. Nothing else, really.”

The statement above was my friend’s (“Jim”) response to a question I asked regarding a woman (“Jane”) he’d recently cut ties with. Despite her quite distinguished ass-to-waist ratio, he’d grown tired of her flakiness, her (relative) youth—he’s 31, she’s 23—and her emotional instability. The response came when I asked him if he ever figured out why she was so prone to random (and public) bouts of strange behavior. (Example: At a get together several months ago, she got upset with Jim and decided to leave and sit in his car with the windows open for the rest of the night. The low temperature that night was 37.)

Apparently, she didn’t have the best relationship with her father, and this combined with the fact that the last couple guys she dated were also in their 30′s was all the proof he needed that she just had serious daddy issues.

While I didn’t dispute my friend’s claim, hearing this woman’s obviously faulty behavior being dismissed as “daddy issues” made something click inside of me, something that had been festering for years now and finally needed to come out:

“Daddy issues” are complete B.S.

Think about it. Think about how every single dating and relationship-related thing that could possibly be wrong with a woman always seems to come back to her father.

If a woman seeks approval from men it’s because she didn’t get enough from her father.

If a woman only dates older men it’s because she’s searching for a father figure.

If a woman’s only attracted to distant and emotionally unavailable men, she’s trying to replicate the relationship she had with her father.

If a woman dates players and man hoes it’s because her father was the same way.

If a woman’s extremely and unnecessarily hard on men it’s because she’s a daddy’s girl.

If a woman’s promiscuous it’s because she either didn’t give enough love from her father or had an inappropriate relationship with him.

If a woman can’t properly gauge a man’s character it’s because her father didn’t teach her how.

If a woman’s too sexually naive she was babied by her father.

If a woman screws an illegal alien it’s because her dad got abducted by a UFO

Point? If every single woman on the planet has some form of daddy issues — and, if what everybody seems to say is correct, they do — then daddy issues don’t actually exist!

I mean, there’s a reason why there’s no such thing as “human issues” or “10 toe issues” or “two nipple issues.” An “issue” is no longer an issue if everyone has some form of the same damn issue. At that point it’s just…normal — no one on Earth has a perfect relationship with their father — and this normalcy means that this “issue” can no longer stand as an excuse for effed up behavior.

Jane’s relationship with her father didn’t make her a weirdo. No, the fact that she was fucking weird made her a weirdo. Daddy issues didn’t cause your ex-girlfriend to break-up with you because she just couldn’t be with a guy who “liked her too much.” No, she couldn’t be with a guy who liked her too much because she was an asshole and an emotional nincompoop. A woman only attracted to much older men isn’t trying to “replace” her dad. She just a lazy ass who tries to explain her lazy ass-ness by saying that she’s too mature for men her age.

Seriously, a grown woman (or man) blaming odd dating and relationship behavior on daddy issues is like a Black man getting fired from the Cheesecake Factory and blaming slavery. Sure, maybe your life might have been a tad different if your great-great-great grandmother wasn’t massa Jackson’s favorite nighttime foot warmer, but you got fired today because they caught your creepy ass eating the tomatoes out of the shrimp and bacon club sandwiches.

This isn’t meant to minimize the importance of a father in a young woman’s life and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Dads matter and shit. But, using daddy issues as a universal excuse, distinction, and diagnosis subtly absolves accountability, making all dads equal scapegoats for shitty behavior.

You know, I’m not a dad yet, but I might be one day. If this day comes, there’s a 50/50 chance that my child will be a daughter, and I will do everything in my power to protect, love, and educate this girl. But, if she decides to cite a hug I didn’t give her in 2018 as the reason why she can’t find love in 2038, I’ll have one message for her: Fuck you.


Photo courtesy of

About Damon Young

Pittsburgh native Damon Young (aka “The Champ”) is the co-founder of Their first book Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm At Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide To Dating, Mating and Fighting Crime is available at


  1. Take it from a guy with 5 younger sisters and a lunatic father. YES YES and YES, an unhealthy relationship with your father can cause all kinds of issues in a women, young and old. Two of my sisters from my fathers first marriag with my mother are completely different. One formed a wondefulbond with my stepfather and she seeks only healthy relationships with men and cannot be intimate with a stranger. On the other hand, my other sister never formed a bond with my step fther and carries around incredible anger and all kinds of shit from my father. She is in therpay, constantly having sexual encounters with different men and crying herself to sleep after every one of them. Each encounter makes her crazier and crazier and all she wants, she claims is a “nice guy”. But since she is easy, she keeps attracting the same type of men, and teh cycle repeats itself.

    Me, I had a wonderfulw relatinshipw ith my mother, and I naturally was able to attract a women similar to my own mother, sort of a super-mom type, career…nurturing, loves being a mom, loves making me feel like man. And she had a wonderful relationship with her father and also is able to forma healthy bond with me.

    This artiucle needs to be seriouslt re-evaluated.

  2. wellokaythen says:

    I’d turn it around and treat it like a scientific theory. Okay, you say she is acting out her issues with her father. Explain how one would test that assertion. If she was NOT acting out her issues with her father, what would that look like? Come up with a way to test it that could have a Yes outcome or a No outcome. What would constitute proof that she was not acting out of daddy issues? If there is no way I could even imagine her NOT acting out of daddy issues or could not conceive of her not doing that, then I am not really thinking rationally. I’ve already decided she’s got the issues. It’s not really an explanation, it’s an article of faith at that point.

  3. wellokaythen says:

    You don’t THINK anyone has “10 toe issues” or “two nipple issues,” until you come across someone who has a different number of them. You are so blinded by your binipplist prejudice that you can’t even see it….. : – )

    I agree that “daddy issues” may be an overused term. When someone uses the same explanation for two completely opposite things, that suggests that the explanation is flawed to me. If she wants men’s attention it must be because of her father. If she completely avoids male attention it must be because of her father. If the man she is dating is like her father or not like her father, those are both explained by daddy issues. That suggests there’s a problem with the accuracy of the theory. It suggests an overused theory.

  4. Well, the reality is that women learn how to build relationships from their fathers and mothers. The same goes for men. However, usually a heterosexual person will seek out someone of the opposite gender to fix unresolved issues they had with their opposite sex parent. Hence “daddy issues”. And yes, they are real. It was a big reason I dated older men. And I knew it because I found myself playing out the same problems with the men I dated as I did with my father. That isn’t to say my dad was an awful man or not a good father. He was in many ways. But he, like me, was imperfect and he certainly had his issues that did shape me into the woman I became when I was dealing with men.That’s the reality. Does that mean a woman should blame everything she does on her Dad? No. But it does mean that we have to acknowledge that father’s play a very significant role in their daugther’s development and how they relate to men. And that there are many women that might walk around from issues they had with their father. This does not mean she gets to treat other men a certain way, but it does show the pyschological asspects of it.

    FYI, your 31 year old friend was stupid to think he was going to have a mature relationship with a 23 year old woman. Perhaps we should also be thinking about why more men can’t get along with, date or find women their own age attractive.

    • Question…would you say the same thing about a 41 year old man and a 33 year old woman? How about 51 and 43? 61 and 53? You see where this is going…

      More importantly, though is the fact that chronological age isn’t everything. There are some particularly immature middle aged adults, and some particularly mature 20-somethings. It’s about the individual.

      • I think there is a different level of maturity for someone who is 33 vs someone that is 23, in most cases. A relationship beween a 41 year old man OR woman and a 33 year old man OR woman is going to be different from a relationships between a 31 year old man OR woman and a 23 year old man OR woman, again, in most cases. The rare exception not withstanding.

        Yes, of course there can be some very mature 20 year olds and immature 40 year olds. Regardless, the life experience of a 20 year old is still fastly different then the life experience of a 40 year old, no matter how mature that 20 year old is. And usually 20 year olds are looking for different things from life then people that are 30+. It’s not only all about your level of personal maturity. Many other factors play their parts.

        • “Many other factors play their parts.”

          That’s sort of my point, though. It’s not all about your chronological age either. I know people who wanted to settle down literally right out of high school, and I know people who are 50+ and who never wanted to settle down. I know 30-year-olds who’ve had extremely limited life experiences, and I know teenagers who’ve seen more shit than anyone ever should.

          It’s all about the individual. We can make generalizations based on statistics about this or that…but when it comes to relationships that all sort of doesn’t matter. The bit in your statement that I took issue with was calling the guy “stupid” for thinking he could have a relationship with someone who was so much younger. It wasn’t stupid…it just wasn’t following conventional wisdom, and sometimes that works and sometimes that doesn’t. And frankly, sometimes following conventional wisdom with regards to relationships fails too. Your statement was placing judgement, and I don’t think that’s fair…precisely because relationships are so individual-based.

          • Heather, I get the impression you are arguing your life experiences vs. my life experiences. I understand that people can live a million different ways with a million varying levels of maturity. I understand that people are individuals. This is not a message you need to keep making specifically toward me.

            We both have life experiences that have shaped the way we individually see things. I also know people 50+ who will never settle down, and 30 year olds with limited life experiences. But this is not the common situation I personally encounter. From my experiences, there is not an equal number of young people with great maturity as there are older people with immaturity. In most cases (and I qualified this above for you), young people acted young and with less maturity more often while the older people I know have had more life experience and maturity more often then their more youthful counterparts. It’s one reason why I think mentors are extremely important in younger people’s lives. Older people, for the most part, will both bring a different life experience and maturity to help show/teach younger people. Despite my own maturity, there are many older people in my life I look up to and can learn from. They have a life experience I don’t. And with younger people, I’ve already experienced what they may be currently going through, and I can be a mentor toward them.

            If you really want to dig into semantics, we could also discuss how not all people are always completely mature or immature at any given moment in time. If you want to dig further deeper into it, we could get into a discussion about what qualifies as mature behavior vs immature behavior.

            There are the rare occasions, in my experience, when yes, a young person would display maturity beyond that of their years and older people have displayed immature behavior. However, this is not common to my experience.

            We could sit here all day qualifying each specific individual-based situation that is possible. But it begins to over whelm the conversation and ends up turning a rose garden into a trap of thorn bushes. This is why I am not afraid of generalizations. There are majority ruled truths in this world. There are many individual situations as well, but there are certain truths that are common experiences. And talking about common experiences in no way misleads anyone to think that there aren’t individual situations or to degrade the individual situations that can occur. We could never have a discussion about anything if it’s only ever going to lead back to, “everyone is an individual so everything is okay”. Yes, everyone is an individual. But that doesn’t mean there are not commonalities among us.

            And you are right, I do place judgement. I do not think placing judgement on other’s actions is unfair. Calling someone stupid is a bit unfair. That was what I was thinking at the time, and that’s what I expressed. We all place judgements. I don’t want to live in a world where I have to agree or pretend I accept everyone else’s choices. People are free to make the choices they want to make. People should be free to live the lives they want to live, whether I agree or not. But that doesn’t mean I can’t look at something and say, “that’s not right” or “that’s right”. People are free to judge based on their own code. Now calling someone a name, isn’t correct. So the stupid comment was harsh in that regard. I could have more respectfully expressed my opinion. But I was just typing quickly and not spending too much time over thinking it. When I spend more time thinking it out my posts tend to get very wordy. So I will take back the stupid part but I will not take back my opinion that someone older should know the likelihood of someone younger not being on the same page as themselves. Despite how many different individuals and individual situations there are in this world.

            Older men dating younger women is nothing new. And older men dating younger women only to find that those younger women are at a difference place in life and often immature is also nothing new. I hear so many guys date younger women then complain about how immature she is. Sometimes older men want to date younger women because they are younger and beautiful but they want them to have the same level of maturity he does at his age. He wants the complete package of his fantasies. Younger, beautiful, mature. And it’s a bit unrealistic for most of society.

            Usually life experience begets maturity. And usually, in most cases, the way people develop maturity is through having life experience. Most 23 year old girls won’t have the life experience and maturity that a 31 year old does. They most likely won’t even have the same goals since women today seem to be setting different goals at different ages then their mother’s might have. This is the reason why you see less 31 year old women going after 23 year old men. Most 23 year old men are simply not there yet. And most women see that. (Yes, I am fully aware there are women that date younger men.) I normally don’t feel the need to qualify so specifically that but you take such exception with everything.

            Finally, on a pure biological/scientific level, young men and women have a part of their brain that isn’t even fully matured until roughly few years into their early 20s. Which is why younger people will more often engage in risky, immature behavior then older people. Again, that’s not to say that younger people can’t be mature. But even their brains aren’t fully developed and processed yet unlike an older person whose fully matured to completion.

            Sorry to be so wordy. I have a hard time narrowing down the words to express what I feel I need to express.

            • So no, I wasn’t arguing my life experiences versus your life experiences. I’ve never dated an older guy (lol). As I said, my problem was just at the use of generalizations and the use of judgement. Mostly, though, it was at your use of judgement. People don’t always know what they want…or sometimes they want something specific in a relationship, and it changes. i.e. maybe an older person (man or woman) is interested in a younger person precisely because they expect that younger person to behave a bit more recklessly, or whatever. Not all relationships are about eventually settling down.

              That’s why I find making judgements about people’s personal relationships, without actually knowing those people, problematic.

  5. How many Dates have you been on? I sort of get what you are saying. But I look at it this way…everyone has Daddy issues at some level, and it’s not complete BS. “daddy issues” aren’t always bad…I think women will be influenced heavily by the dad for all a long time….I have seen good, and bad…but that is why I try to be a good Dad.

  6. So I’ll echo what Aya said, in that I don’t associate “daddy issues” with a lot of the negative traits you mentioned. I do agree that “daddy issues” gets over-used, just as “mommy issues” gets over-used when describing negative traits of some men. Our society has a bit of a problem with blaming the parents, even after people reach adulthood.

    That being said, daddy issues can be a real thing. I’ve a friend who really does have issues that centre around the fact that her father pretty much ignored her, but spent loads of time with her brothers. Actually, I’ve a couple friends who’ve struggled with problems because of situations like this. I think it’s real, just not good to use as a catch-all phrase whenever a woman has negative personality traits.

  7. As a man who is struggling with (and winning against!) mommy issues, well… I buy the “daddy issues” explanation for a lot of things. Ultimately, though, responsibility to change lies with the individual. The only constant in any of your relationships is YOU.

    • Thanks for actually validating that the sh*t is real. I’ve honestly never heard anybody describe “daddy issues” as anything more than clinginess, neediness, and at worst controlling behavior or infidelity and that too only after confirming that her dad was indeed a bad father. I think too many men see only one side of the coin, and too many on the other side (myself included) don’t face them.

  8. Nothing is an excuse to act like a jerk and hurt others, but because this woman did something “bad” is it a reason to exclude the influence male domination might have had in her life ?
    I mean, it obviously isn’t the only thing that is to be blamed on earth but this shouldn’t refrain us to address it.

    The friend saying that “it’s only daddy issues” kind of sounds to me like he didn’t take her feelings or eventual issues very seriously. Saying she does something because she’s just a “lazy-ass” is not better. In both case if feels like you are both judging her and dismissing her really fast.

    And “Despite her quite distinguished ass-to-waist ratio” isn’t great way to describe the value of an other human being

  9. When a woman does something bad or has some mental or attitude problems, then the blame has to be put somewhere. In the present social environment, any women cannot be blamed so a suitable man has to be found to be blamed. Here the father (man) comes in handy as everyone has a father to blame. After all patriarchy (father’s rule) can be blamed for everything evil between heaven and Earth.

  10. While I agree that blaming everything on ‘Daddy issues’ is really stupid, there are a lot of problems with what you say. Many of the examples that you describe as needing excuses really do not. If a woman is dating an older man–maybe she’s just attracted to older men or to this particular older man. The man is also dating this younger woman, keep in mind (and men have come up with many excuses for not being comfortable with women their own age, whether they’re into MILFs or barely legals). If a woman dates players and ‘man hoes’–maybe she’s not ready for a relationship or doesn’t want a life partner quite yet. It happens. If a woman is sexually naive, maybe she just hasn’t had experience yet or access to learning materials. So what? She can still learn with the right partner. If she’s ‘promiscuous,’ maybe she’s at a place in life where she just enjoys consensual sex with multiple partners. Just because dating behavior lies outside of the norm-what you call ‘odd’–doesn’t mean that it’s BAD. We all take different paths in our dating life. Just like we all take different paths in our careers and friendships.

    As for the more negative stuff you mention. ‘Daddy issues’ are not AT ALL where my mind goes. It seems like an outdated concept, to be honest. The phrase is associated with men writing a woman off for one reason or another–not with the woman making excuses. Are there actually women walking around saying “I have daddy issues?”

    If she can’t guage a man’s character, my first thought goes to her having trouble with picking up on social cues. This is not uncommon (for men and women). If she’s hard on men, my first thought is–she’s a bitch, or dealing with some shit right now. If she seeks approval from men, she might have borderline personality disorder. Or–what you percieve as seeking approval from men is really just her being overly flirtatious and having a good time. Blaming the dad NEVER comes to mind–and it shouldn’t. It’s not fair to the dad, whom you don’t know, and who very possibly raised his daughter the best way he knew how. And who loves his daughter.

    • Also, you mention the ‘weird’ dating behavior from Jane. From ages of 18 to about 23, almost every MAN in my social circles did some really ‘odd’ things. So it’s not just limited to women. A guy who was having issues with his girlfriend would throw himself down the stairs and go out into the woods at 2 am, coming back all scraped up. Another one would have his friends stalk and harass a woman with whom he went on a few dates with and things didn’t turn out well. Another one would get drunk and cry or lie in a field. Yet another one would fall madly in love with every girl who dared to be nice to him. And a few others fought tooth and nail to deny homosexual tendencies (“he gave me that blow job when I was too drunk to know what was going on”). The point is that almost everyone at that age is going to have their crazy moments in the wacky world of young love and sex.

      Jane’s behavior–going and sitting in a cold car–has nothing on some of the stuff I’ve seen, from both young men and young women. So what if Jane with the beautiful ass is a bit of a wierdo? People handle stress in different ways. It takes time to figure out socially acceptable ways to deal with problems. Men blame the awfulness that is the female gender for their ‘weird’ actions at least as often as women blame stuff of their dads.

      • DaddyNoIssue says:

        I think Damon’s point was that people behave the way they know how. Everyone else rationalizes their behavior, if they find it weird, by saying “daddy issues”. I don’t think he in any way implied that women do it more than men, or that there is something wrong with a woman dating an older man.

        His point was that whatever it is, don’t start blaming the dad.

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