Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


How Your Dad Affects Your Relationships with Men

“Well-fathered” daughters have more fulfilling relationships.

Source: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

Like most daughters, you’ve probably wondered at some point in your life how your dad has influenced your relationships with men. What impact does he have on the kind of men you choose to date, the quality of those relationships, your sexual decisions, and whether your marriage might end in divorce?

The good news is that daughters who grow up with supportive, loving, communicative relationships with their dad seem to reap benefits in their romantic lives. As teenagers, these lucky daughters are less likely to have sex at an early age or to have casual sex with a number of different guys. This, of course, means they are less likely to contract a disease or to get pregnant. As young adults, they have the self-confidence to say “no” to any kind of sexual behavior that makes them feel uncomfortable. And they are less likely to have sex with men they hardly know or to have sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In short, these daughters don’t use sex as a way of buying love and attention.

Leaving sex aside, “well-fathered” daughters have more fulfilling relationships with their boyfriends or their husbands. Their relationships are more emotionally intimate and more secure. With the men in their lives, these daughters can express their opinions honestly, assert themselves without being aggressive, and stand their ground without fear of being rejected.

In contrast, daughters who didn’t have good relationships with their fathers while growing up tend to have more troubled relationships with men. Not surprisingly, they are more likely to end up divorced than “well-fathered” daughters. They are either too timid or too aggressive in asking for what they need or when trying to resolve problems. They either settle for too little or are far too demanding in the expectations they put on men. Someone who does not feel lovable or loved by her own dad may expect men to provide her with unending attention, approval, and adoration.

Think of your relationships with men this way: A hungry person makes the worst grocery shopper. If you go into a grocery store hungry, you’re likely to buy junk food: You're in a hurry and you didn’t have a list of healthy foods to buy. In the same way, daughters who do not have good relationships with their dads may have a “father hunger.” And when they go “shopping” for men, they tend to make the unhealthiest choices.



More from Psychology Today

More from Linda Nielsen Ed.D.

More from Psychology Today