Let’s talk Daddy Issues. For a while now, I’ve wanted to post a photo of my parents and title the blog post “A Photo of Everyone I’ve Ever Dated.” I’m not sure about that exact approach, but I’m definitely going to write a post about dating versions of our parents soon because it’s one of those things where once you make the connection, your life changes. You stop negative patterns right in their tracks because you immediately know better.

A few months ago, I was talking to my friend David Kessler, telling him that I couldn’t believe how a particular person in my life knew exactly what buttons to push that would drive me over the edge. “How do they know how to get under my skin and push my buttons?” I asked him.

“It’s not who pushes your buttons, it’s who programmed you.”

A Light-Bulb-Moment-WHOA-“aha!” orgy in my head soon followed.

Since it’s Father’s Day today, this whole week I’ve been thinking about my own daddy issues, how they’ve affected me, why they’ve haunted me for so long and really, why the hell I even had such deep daddy issues in the first place when I have a Dad that’s consistently been nothing short of amazing.

Daddy issues aren’t something that’s only reserved for women with absentee, abusive (emotionally or physically), narcissistic or disloyal fathers.

Daddy issues are just as prevalent in women who have a Dad that was and is present.

Why? Let’s find out.

First off, what are Daddy Issues?

When you have daddy issues, you subconsciously attract and are attracted to men that exemplify any unresolved issues that you have in both the relationship and the lack of relationship with your Father or a significant male figure from your childhood. This becomes an addictive pattern because it creates this feeling of comfort due to the familiarity but also creates a perpetual underlying feeling of dis-ease in your relationships. You then become the girl that doesn’t feel like it’s the “right” relationship unless you’re feeling insecure and like you have something to “chase after” and “prove.” You gravitate toward relationsh*ts that “keep you on your toes,” instead of relationships that are mutual and genuinely connected.

 15 signs that you may have Daddy Issues

(I’ve exemplified each one of these at one time or another in my life)

  1. Your self esteem is low, you don’t love yourself and you can’t implement boundaries because you feel guilty for doing so. If the relationship that you have with yourself sucks, your dating life can best be described as a trailer for a self-help workshop and if you continue to have “bad luck” with men, chances are it started with the relationship (or lack thereof) with Dad or a significant male figure from your childhood.
  2. You have a really hard time trusting any guy that you’re with. You have to “screen” them (& that usually happens in a passive FBI investigatory manner). You don’t trust because you subconsciously trusted Dad and he hurt you/didn’t meet your expectations/didn’t accept you/didn’t validate you/loved you conditionally/abandoned you/kept everything really surfacey, etc. This also happens if you feel like Dad didn’t protect you.
  3. You need validation from men and especially from the man you’re dating. If you’re dating someone, you have this thing where you need to make it known to your boyfriend that you’re “in demand.” You even seek the validation of other men when you’re with a good guy (which never lasts). You’re a validation junkie and can never get enough.
  4. Breakups aren’t just devastating for you, they’re catastrophic.  They cause a ton of collateral damage and you find yourself needing to seek validation from your ex like you need to breathe oxygen. This can result in continuing to go back to your ex (emotionally, physically or both), sleeping with your ex, continuing to feel like you have a say in what and who he does, etc. You feel like you “own” him even after the relationship has ended. It’s like losing a family member and a lover all in one.
  5. You like eliciting jealousy and any reactions that display the effect that you have on men. 
  6. In your relationships, you’re jealous and over-protective. 
  7. You need unreasonable levels of reassurance that “everything is alright” that you’re “good enough,” “hot enough,” and the list goes on. 
  8. It’s hard for you to remain single.
  9. You’re a serial monogamist and always act like you know it all. 
  10. You prefer to date older men (hello! that’s still me!). And no, that doesn’t mean you’re dating Daddy Warbucks. It could be just a few years older (I still like more than a year or 2). 
  11. You’re more comfortable in seeking validation from an emotionally unavailable man than you are being with a “good guy.” Good guys bore you. 
  12. In one way or another, you were emotionally orphaned as a kid by Dad or by a significant male figure in your childhood and you’ve been on an emotional driftwood ever since. I didn’t acknowledge or realize this until I was well into my adulthood.
  13. Your Dad was around, but never really “present.” You never felt “good enough” for or truly connected to Dad in some way. 
  14. You have abandonment issues due to emotional or physical abandonment from Dad. 
  15. You consistently involve yourself with emotionally unavailable men.

My parents got divorced when I was very young and the time that I was able to spend with my Father was subsequently minimized. So every time I saw my Dad, he was just trying to make the most out of the day and as great as that was, it disallowed a certain realness and connectivity that would have been there if I was able to see him and live with him on a daily basis. Dad and I didn’t really get into the heavy stuff because we just wanted to enjoy our day.

As I got older, this led to me going after guys that were not only emotionally and physically fleeting, but that were completely emotionally disconnected and narcissistic. I had become emotionally unavailable myself and I still battle my reverse narcissism to this day. I made everyone’s bad and hurtful behavior about me not being good enough and failed to let people own their behavior and decisions because I couldn’t own my own.

My consistent pattern of being involved with emotionally unavailable and narcissistic men came from patterns that were branded in my head and heart as a child. You don’t have to have a bad father or an absent father to have daddy issues. You could, like me, have a father that didn’t always express his emotions or you could have a father that you had to “work” to impress or notice you.

I’m, lucky enough to coach some of the most successful, well-known and powerful people and it never ceases to amaze me how quickly they regress to their younger, eager, validation-seeking selves when Dad sends them a simple text after skating in and out of their lives (either emotionally, physically or both) for years and years.

Do I like having my Dad’s approval and validation? Of course, but whether or not I get it doesn’t make nearly as much difference as me approving of and validating myself.

If Dad had a hard time expressing his emotions, accepting you or making your feel beautiful/cool/capable enough, he was most likely emotionally unavailable and unhappy with himself and his life. 

No one had the perfect parent and no one will be the perfect parent. My father is very far from perfect. We are all fighting our own battles. There comes a point though when we need to realize that if a pattern exists, it’s not Dad or our boyfriend hurting us, it’s us choosing to retraumatize ourselves because that’s all we know. We don’t know what availability or connectivity looks/feels like and even though we may claim to want it more than anything, we’re much more comfortable in an environment of claiming to want it while being the victim of emotionally unavailable men.

If you’re wondering why you keep going after emotionally unavailable men, it’s because you’re chasing the familiar.

You’re going after the only thing you know and you convince yourself that if you can do the one thing that no human will ever be able to do (make another person change out of being who they are), then that will invalidate Dad and de-pedestal him; it will deactivate the pain he caused, prove him to be wrong and your Happily Ever After can now begin. This never happens because empathy, emotional availability, compassion, loyalty and responsibility are things that can never be bribed, bought or instilled in anyone.

As little girls, we want to impress our fathers and we want them to think we are as amazing as we think they are. Dad is the first man that we ever say “I love you” to and the man that we subconsciously compare every man to. Good or bad, absent or present.

With dads that are emotionally unavailable, the daughter convinces herself that if she does/is good enough, she’ll get Dad to stay/validate/love her, etc. This then sets her up with a lifetime VIP pass for riding the f*cktard ferris wheel because it allows her to justify staying in relationsh*ts. She convinces herself that he’ll change and scares herself into the submission of believing that if she lets him go, he’ll combust into the man of her dreams with another, “better” girl.

If you have a dad that’s present, celebrate him today and if you don’t have a dad, father yourself by making the promise that you’re not going to be at the end of your life years from now saying “I see it all now. Why did I waste so much time?”

You’re never going to be at the end of your life one day, wishing that you got hurt and devalued more.

You’re never going to wish that you kept putting yourself in the emotional line of fire.

You’re never going to regret getting off the f*cktard ferris wheel and you’re never going to regret using your daddy issues to motivate you out of your dysfunction instead of keeping you immersed in the quicksand.

One of my favorite songs is Daughters because it.is.so.true. (kind of funny that John Mayer wrote it but I love his music so whatev).

Once you identify your daddy issues, you’ll be able to work toward making them a thing of the past and you’ll also be able to make sure that your future/current daughter knows that she’s enough.

If you don’t have or want kids, go find a photo of yourself as a kid and remind that little girl in the photo that she’s more than enough.

Now get out there and enjoy your Sunday.

See you tomorrow xx, N

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25 comments

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Natasha. This was exactly what I needed. You are a healer and I hope you know that your doing God’s work. Thank u!

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Natasha. I just got out of a relationship with a truly despicable man for whom I dropped every boundary that I ever thought I had, subjected myself to and accepted from him everything you have described in your posts. Right now, I am ashamed, humiliated, angry, desperate for relief and sad that I have wasted my whole life by not recognizing that I fit the description of a reverse narcissist. I have wasted my life on bad relationships, affairs, accepting emotionally unavailable men into my world and breaking up with the good ones because I need validation from other people (mostly men) to make me feel worthwhile/beautiful/wanted/excited/alive. This last relationship broke me. He was a reflection of the self-destructiveness and negative feelings I have towards myself. I came to your website looking for answers and when I read your posts on narcissists and Daddy Issues my whole world blew up.

I was married once when I was 21. Lasted a year. I never had kids or married again but had several long term relationships and in every single one of them I cheated when someone I thought of as superior to me wanted into my pants/made me feel sexy and beautiful/told me what a great person I was. I work in a male dominated industry and am pretty successful in it, financially independent and still physically attractive. But I am 48 now, had a heart attack last year (few people know about it and to look at me you can’t even tell that I have health issues). I am afraid that my time is running out and that nobody will want me if they knew my whole story. I’ve always seen myself as a strong, successful, progressive, attractive, independent woman. Not so much huh? I know this is why I allowed a truly bad guy to destroy me and everything I thought I was.

I don’t know what to do now. My family does not ever ever ever talk about anything of substance. My dad was a functional alcoholic who would go on benders every weekend. He would come home and him and my mom would have EPIC fights that would end in one of two ways: either he would pass out on the bathroom floor after puking his guts out or he would lock himself in the 2nd bedroom with a closet full of hunting rifles and scare my mom to the point of catatonia. I was the one who had to try and protect my little brother and do everything I could to keep the peace and prevent anyone from doing anything to trigger his anger.. Next day?? Life would go on as if nothing ever happened. If anything was ever said (and that was a big IF) it was my mom making excuses and telling us that he is a good man that works hard and supports his family so we should all make allowances for his behavior.

My question to you Natasha is this: what happens when a woman IS the exception to the rule?

When I was 16, after a huge fight and having to call my aunt and uncle and an ambulance for my mom (who was in full blown catatonia on the couch) I had a blow up of my own with my father. When he was sober the next day we had an epic fight. I snapped. I screamed at him that he wasn’t a good father, he wasn’t my father, I had no respect for him because he is a drunk, he is an asshole and that I no longer wanted to be a part of the family. This, coming from me?? The peacekeeper good little girl do everything anyone asks and always avoid confrontation me? It was shocking.

He Stopped Drinking!

No more benders, no more fights. He quit cold turkey. My mom and him are still together, married now 45 years. We have NEVER NEVER NEVER talked about ANY of this as a family. Life just went on. I think they have tried to make it up to me by being overly involved in my life and always being available if I ever needed anything. My mom wants me to find a man because she doesn’t want me to be alone in the second half of my life.

So, if I was good enough to change my father when his own wife couldn’t do it, why am I not good enough to change someone I love into a decent human being??

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Hi Stephanie!

Thank you so much for sharing.

I wish that I could elaborate further and answer your questions, but I have too much to say to type it all out not enough hands to type or hours in the day. I would also need more details.

Thanks for your love, for reading and for your understanding. Keep coming back here to the blog.

I do offer one-on-one coaching if you’re interested and would be happy to help further 🙂 The link to it is on the homepage.

All my love to you soul sister.

You’re not alone xo

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This is everything 😊❤️🙌🏽 Thanks for making what would have been a painful day, so much happier 😘

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Natasha what an amazing post for a Sunday morning.
This just jump started my morning and I feel amazing and alive.
What you do for us soul sisters / tribe/ community is so admirable. The time, the effort that I see you put in pays off.
I also wanted to tell you that you will achieve so much more than you think you have already achieved with this blog. I can see you doing so many great things. I believe in you. I love you. You are the best figure, sister, role model that has changed my life tremendously. You saved me from so much pain. I probably would have gone through so many relationsh*ts and would not be able to figure out my dating patterns or reflect on myself if I did not meet you or find this beautiful blog.
I also dd not know that I am a serial monogamist. I know I can do anything, once I enter your blog. This blog is POWERFUL. AMEN!!!!!

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Thank you so much for this Catherine, this made me cry!! Love you sister 🙂 xo

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Thank you sister! Today was a rough day-but I’m managing and taking care of the little one. I’ve even started to set BOUNDARIES with other people and have stopped accommodating 😳 Say whaaaat? I love you and can’t wait to tell you more soon 🙃- Diane

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Love you too! Proud of you soul sis! xx

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Completely on point again. Not only did I leave my relationship with an emotionally unavailable man I had to face my own trauma with my father. It has been a hard 5 months of self relflection and understanding my “compulsive repetition” pattern. I couldn’t have gotten this far in my healing without my therapist and you!!! I now have all ends covered! Haha! Thank you Natasha..you really are a blessing.

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I’m so glad that it helped! You’re doing all the right things. Thanks so much for the love and support Tan 🙂 xoxo

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Natasha, thank you. I stumbled upon your posts at EXACTLY the time I needed to. Especially the relationship and emotional unavailability articles. I’ve read a lot of articles (prior to yours) and talked to a lot of people trying to figure out what the hell was going on in my fairy tale relationsh*t and within myself, and have gotten no where but more confused and defeated. You have been the one to provide truth and clarity and a guidance on how to move forward. Thank you so much for sharing your life and wisdom. I hope you know how much you are appreciated. Thank you! ❤

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You’re going to make me cry. Thank YOU so much Eve! 🙂 You are loved, supported, back and believed in. XOXO

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Brought me to tears and empowered me all at once.
I knew the what and why in a very foggy state; you pulled me out of that fog and gave me clarity, and now I am all the more ready and anxious to break this toxic pattern, embark on the road to forgiveness and move forward.
Your words speak truth and they heal!
Eternally grateful,
S

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Sammi, you brought me to tears. Thank you very much 🙂 I’m so happy it helped! You are believed in, supported & never alone. All my love to you. xo

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Thank you so much for writing this article…it has given me that extra push to go ahead and seek out a counsellor for my issues. At 22,I need to break the cycle now if I’m ever going to have a good relationship with anyone.

Thanks again,
X

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I’m so happy that it served you. You are believed in, loved, supported and never alone. Thanks June! xx

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In my 2nd therapy session, she told me “you have screaming Daddy issues”. I responded with, “I do not. I have issues with my mother who defined my relationship with my father because he wasn’t in my life”. Then later I googled “do i have daddy issues?” and then I found this and you. I do have Daddy issues. Your words “your dad is the first man you say I love you to”, really hit home with me because I never got to say I love you to my father and I was 7 years old before I had a step dad that I could say it to and he didn’t say it back. Now, I understand why I said “i love you” to every single guy I dated (and probably frightened). I am also beginning to understand why I’ve chosen the people I’ve wasted so much of my time with. They were all my normal.

I’m working thru a devastating break-up. He didn’t break up with me…why would you end a relationship with a bottomless ATM with no rules or limitations? I ended it for me and am single for the first time in my adult life (i’ll be 52 on my birthday).

Forever grateful for having found your blog and will continue to use your words to fill my brain with your spot on affirmation. Horses always bite me but I’m gonna stay on my white horse despite my fear! Love & Hugs!!

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I randomly came across this blog and let me tell you, you made me understand so many things about myself. I needed to read this. Blessings xoxo

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Hi Cierra!

I’m so happy that the blog has helped and am honored to have played a part in your healing and realizations. Thank you for the love and support. All my love to you soul sister 🙂 xo

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All my life I’ve been lost, hating myself, thinking I’m not good enough, not pretty enough, not worth any love of any kind, I’ve had a string of “bad luck” with men and used reverse narcissism on myself to explain my bad luck. I’ve been broken, torn, abused without a way out and I’ve let this all happen because of exactly what you mentioned above, I was scared that the men I dated would move on and be better for a “better” girl, so I’d hold on tight, I dare to add I would be clingy too, break ups felt catastrophic like you said. To say the least you just described my entire life, and I’m entirely greatful to you for this closure. I have decided to break the chains, I’m currently with an emotionally unavailable man (typical right?)?but I’ve known problem now and I hope God gives me the strength to overcome it. May God bless you Natasha. You are God’s voice to me, thanks for delivering his message.

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Thank YOU so much for sharing <3 I'm honored to have played a part in your healing and realizations. You are loved, understood, believed in and never, ever alone. XOXO

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OMG!! This totally made me see my pattern of dating emotionally unavailable men because the good ones were boring. Lol

Thank you Natasha. You are truly a blessing!

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So happy it helped!! 🙂 Sending you love. XOXO

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Thanks so much for this! You hit the nail on the head. I was crying over a guy and it dawned on me that I recreate my past issues with my father who had abandoned me and l hate crying over someone who is emotionally unavailable so I quickly typed in google: daddy issues and this article popped up. It took me until now-at the age of 30 -to understand why I always get involved with the wrong people and I know they don’t have what I completely need at the onset but yet because of mutual attraction and solid friendship I feel like I can help save them and make it work. But I’ve had it all wrong and I have been finally realizing this. So thank you for helping me with this epiphany!

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YES!! So happy it helped 🙂 Thanks Alicea! You got this! XOXO

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