The term, “Daddy issues” is generally thrown at women as a way to dehumanize their attachment needs within an intimate relationship. Sometimes, it’s used to slut-shame a woman whose sexual appetite is viewed as promiscuous. But rarely is it used correctly.
The psychological term is having a Father Complex. And, either gender that suffers a detached relationship with their Father can have a Father Complex which affects their relationships or ability to connect intimately. It is not exclusive to women. Nor is it exclusive to Fathers. You can have attachment issues because of either parent or any authority figure in your childhood.
A physically or emotionally absent father is the blueprint for future relationships for sons and daughters. Women can seek approval and validation from lovers after not receiving it from their father figure. Men can struggle with their own masculinity without a father figure or from having an over-bearing, less emotional father. Ultimately, relationships are affected.
We can choose partners who represent what we did not receive from our parents. Through the relationship, we act out the same dynamic we experienced from the parent whether it is them being emotionally unavailable or controlling. Our subconscious is either trying to resolve our childhood experience by recreating similar circumstances or we feel safe because this is what we have known.
Often, it ends in frustration as the same scenario plays out repeatedly. We are never successful in getting Daddy to love us the way he should have when we were little.
I have had both an absent father and an emotionally absent stepfather. I have experienced both sides of the coin. I would love to say that I wasn’t affected, but I surely was. I chased emotionally unavailable partners trying to get them to open up and provide me with the intimacy I longed for. It never worked despite being in lengthy relationships.
It took taking a break from relationships for me to see how I was trying so hard to receive love from someone incapable of giving me what I needed. As I really looked at my past partners, I saw that they resembled the male figures in my life and the ways that they rejected me were very similar to the rejection I experienced in childhood.
I had to decide for myself that being in a relationship shouldn’t feel like you are trying to constantly convince someone to want to be with you. I had to validate myself and realize that despite the absence of the parental love that I longed for, I was still a beautiful, functional human being. If something can grow up without being cared for, then there is nothing that can prevent it from being whatever it desires.
“Daddy issues” aren’t exclusive to women. They also aren’t insurmountable. They can wreak havoc on your intimate relationships and prove barriers to relationship. But, they can be healed either through self-help or therapy. The first step is awareness. Once you see that you are seeking approval or questioning your masculinity, then you can decide against it and figure out the ways to give yourself the love you desired from a parent instead of trying to find it in the arms of a lover.
Your Father wasn’t the authority of whether you deserved to be loved. Many of our parents grew up in an era where fathers didn’t interact with their children. They came home from work and were stoic figures in the family.
Men aren’t supposed to show emotion. For some of us, fathers just weren’t as responsible for the children as mothers were. Whatever the reason, it’s not your fault that you didn’t get what you needed. But, you have the power to be more like what you needed than what you didn’t receive.
Before you classify another woman as having, “Daddy issues” or use it to shame her for how she tries to emotionally attach, be sure to look at yourself. As I said, we often try to love someone similar to the love we didn’t receive. Perhaps, you remind her of her father.
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