How Your "Daddy Issues" Damage Your Relationships With Men

How and why should daughters try to resolve their "daddy" issues?

Posted Mar 26, 2020

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How are your relationships with men related to your dad? And how do you get over it? These are two of the most frequent questions that women ask me.

If you have ongoing problems in your romantic relationships with men, you may have some of these five “daddy issues.”

First and foremost, you may have rarely felt loved, accepted or respected by your dad when you were growing up—or now. Second, even when you did feel loved, you felt you had to be perfect, or nearly perfect, to earn or to deserve his love. Indeed, he paid far more attention to you when you were the “winner” or the “best” at whatever you were doing. Average was not acceptable, which is why you often felt, and may still feel, you are not “good enough” in his eyes—or in yours.

Third, when you made mistakes or failed miserably, he may have often reacted as if you were unloved and unlovable. He seemed ashamed of or embarrassed by you for being “flawed.”  He took your mistakes and imperfections as a blow to his self-esteem or his public image. Fourth, you were seldom allowed to express your anger at your dad—or to openly and comfortably argue and disagree with him, to stand up to him, respectfully but firmly, and to express your own opinions and feelings. And fifth, your dad conveyed to you that it is a man’s responsibility to make the woman he loves happy and satisfied with her life. There is a Prince Charming out there for you—a man who will rescue you from your life’s problems and will fix whatever it is that is making you unhappy.    

With these “daddy issues,” you may be more likely to keep picking the wrong men and for the wrong reasons. You’re like a hungry person who walks into the grocery store and buys the junk food because it “looks good” on the shelf. The package is appealing, but the ingredients inside the package are bad for you. You’re a terrible shopper because you went into the store hungry without a carefully planned list of healthy foods. In this same way, in the dating “market” you may have “father hunger” because you don’t feel loved and accepted by your dad for being the imperfect person you are.  In relationships, you feel you have to be perfect. You rarely stand up for yourself or argue or get mad—all of which are essential in healthy relationships.  And you’re often disappointed and angry because you’re foolishly shopping for the “perfect” food—the Prince Charming who will satisfy your father hunger.

You’re not looking for a man who is a flawed, fragile and sometimes confused and troubled, just like you. You’re looking for some imaginary “daddy” who will solve your problems for you, fix your boo-boos and protect you from life’s inevitable miseries—the daddy that exists in the mind of a child.

In my book, I describe many practical ways to resolve some of these issues with your dad. And when you take those steps, you may end up a much wiser shopper.