How Love Is Different When You Have Daddy Issues

If you grew up with your father in your life, he’s probably more than the man who taught you how to ride a bicycle or pitch a tent — he was the first man you learned to trust and love. If he broke your heart in any way over the years, it’s probably had a ripple effect in your romantic relationships as you got older. Here’s what it’s really like to love someone when you have daddy issues:

  1. You’re drawn to drama. Your father brought drama to your life. It might not have been abuse, but it could have been the trauma of not having him around or not being able to depend on him. Although these are things you want to avoid, they’re what you’re used to, so you might find yourself inexplicably attracted to these qualities in other men. It makes it harder to like the nice guy like other women would because you’re so used to dealing with chaos.
  2. Your kneejerk reaction is to push men away. Other women might try to hold onto great men, but you want to put them off you. Why? You don’t want to get hurt but you fear that men will bring you pain the way your father did. If they don’t get to hold your heart in their hands, they can’t break it, right?
  3. You want guys to fight for you. Although you might push guys away, you also want them to fight for you the way your father didn’t. You want guys to chase you, make an effort and go the extra mile, which might sound like a good thing but you take it too far: you want to continue putting guys you date through obstacles so that they prove themselves to you. It’s exhausting.
  4. You’re incredibly jaded about love. If your father wasn’t there for you physically or emotionally, you might find yourself generalizing about guys. You might expect them all to hurt you sooner or later, which can make it tough for someone to love you and convince you of their love.
  5. You battle to commit. You might say you want a guy to move the world to be with you and commit to you, but you tend to date guys who are commitment-phobes. WTF? This could be because you’re the one who has commitment issues, possibly from seeing unhealthy relationships in your parents’ marriage and resolving never to let that happen to you.
  6. You want to fix men. You might be so drawn to emotionally unavailable men because you have unresolved issues. You never managed to “fix” your father or your relationship with him, so you hope that you can fix other men, such as by making a toxic guy a really awesome boyfriend or staying in a crappy relationship too long in the hope of changing it into something amazing. The only problem is that it never will because those guys have their own issues they’re bringing to your life that have nothing to do with you.
  7. You lose it when things go wrong. Because you’re expecting to get hurt, you will lose your cool and jump to conclusions the minute things go wrong in your relationship. So, if your guy tells you that he’s working late again this week, you might fight with him because you think he’s cheating. You think of worst case scenarios as though protecting yourself from future pain and heartbreak.
  8. You feel inadequate. If your father left you or didn’t show you love, you might wonder what’s stopping other men from doing the same thing. You have low self-esteem and might not realize your own worth, and the truth is, no man will ever be what you need to feel adequate. This can cause you to settle for less than you deserve — the mediocre relationship instead of the amazing love that you should strive for.
  9. You want constant attention. You never got a lot of attention from your father so you seek it out from other men. The danger is that this can make you a clingy AF girlfriend or it can make you settle for the bad kind of attention, such as from the guys who only want to hit it and quit it.
  10. You want a man who’ll take care of you. You might be drawn to men who seem to have their act together or who are significantly older than you because you’re subconsciously hoping to meet a man who’ll take care of you, fulfilling that childhood need to be looked after.
  11. You like dating the bad boysThere’s nothing cool about bad boys, other than the leather they’re rumored to wear. They can’t commit to a real, mature relationship and they’re always giving you inconsistent boyfriend behavior. But to you, that’s strangely appealing. Perhaps it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy — by getting with a guy who treats you badly, you reaffirm your feelings of low self-esteem or that all men are jackasses.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.