I’m a daughter with “Daddy Issues.”
I know what you are probably thinking, because I used to have my own assumptions whenever I heard the term “daddy issues.” You may be thinking that my personal life is littered with failed relationships, and that I crave the attention of men, or at least that I have a strong urge to please them. But no, I don’t find it difficult to trust people; in fact, I may be a little bit on the too trusting side. I have had only one serious romantic relationships, and I have a small circle of very strong friendships (yay for introverts!). And I certainly do not have the urge for men’s attention, or the desire to please them. I didn’t get pregnant when I was a teenager (which really isn’t the end of the world, btw), and I never fell in with “the bad crowd” as is expected, according to the largely accepted stereotypes for women who don’t have good relationships with their father.
Since my pre-teens, my relationship with my father has been of very poor quality. Around the age of 12 the relationship started growing worse and worse, to the point where I haven’t had a legitimate conversation with my father in nearly eight years. I went from feeling hurt and angry, to furious, to something akin to hatred, and then to the present, where I feel a cool dislike, and have little to no relationship with him. I don’t know if that’s healthy; I seriously doubt it is. But it’s the way that I, as a teenager, after begging my mother for years for her to get a divorce, and then realizing it wasn’t happening, decided to handle it. It has been a smart, and good move for me, and the adult that I am now has absolutely no regrets.
I watched the type of husband my father has been: controlling, paranoid, argumentative, and dismissive. I saw that he put on a facade, and only took down his walls when he was alone with his family. I saw how his life became immersed in his own interests, how he strove to put everything under his control, and I witnessed his raging, terrifying temper. I stopped loving him because I saw how he treated the most important woman in my life, and I learned to despise his most prominent traits. Rather than loving my father’s character, I realized that the type of man that I saw him for was definitely not the type of man that I wanted to have in my life.
There was a point as a teenager where I was envious of my BFF’s relationship with her dad. Her dad has always been huggable, humorous, loving, caring, and approachable. Basically he was the opposite of my father. But I was never too sad my father-daughter relationship wasn’t as strong as my BFF’s was. By that point, I recognized who my father was, and I didn’t want to have a relationship with someone like him.
Sadly a lot of the stereotypes based on my experiences are actually formed from respectable research, so these aren’t assumptions built on marshy foundations. Victoria Secunda, author of “Women and Their Fathers” would say that this would likely indicate that I would have poor romantic relationships, and probably major trust issues later in life. In actuality, not every women with Daddy Issues is a mess when it comes to her personal life or her romantic relationships. How do I know? At the risk of sounding like an egotistical prat, it’s because I’ve been in a happy, loving, and trusting relationship with a man for over seven years.
Rather than identifying characteristics of my father and finding and cherishing them in other men, I learned what values I didn’t care for at all, and what I valued above all else. Ironically, I was ‘lucky’ enough to find out just what type of person makes a bad partner in general, and for me specifically. On the bright side, I got an insider’s look on negative behavior within a partner by watching my father. I knew that I needed someone who would be able to be flexible, chill, and easygoing. I also knew that while I of course would want someone strong-willed, a partner with an angry temperament, coupled with the tendency to yell was to be avoided at all costs. This may seem like an obvious thing, but since I knew firsthand what type of home life it could create, I also knew that I absolutely couldn’t be with someone like that. Also important was being able to enjoy things together, since my father spent most of my teenage years in front of the computer whilst my mom, sister, and I read together or watched movies, was also a must.
What’s more, I happily realized that not every father, and not every man, had traits like my father. In short, I knew that not every guy was controlling, and a generally angry person. This knowledge probably arose from being around my BFF’s aforementioned father. Whereas I had a negative relationship with my father, she had a poor relationship with her mother, and a positive one with her father. So for her, her beloved parental figure was her dad, which meant to me that not every dad sucks. In fact, thanks to my BFF, I saw that some are great, and are very much loved by their children.
So sorry, Secunda, not every woman falls head over heels for their fathers. Instead of letting our daddy issues wreck our lives, there are us daughters who have learned from them, both consciously and unconsciously. We don’t all fall into the stereotypes and some of us—maybe even many of us—find ourselves lucky in love.
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