Believe it or not, the dynamics between you and dear old dad will always play a part in your romantic connections with men in your life – there’s just no getting around it.
Women often jokingly blame their “daddy issues” for mistakes they’ve made when dating or navigating a marriage, but the reality is, it’s serious business. “Your father is your first male role model—good or bad—and that relationship often shapes how we view men,” explains Atlanta-based licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake.
Connecting the dots between your relationship with your father and your romantic relationships with other men can be difficult without the help of a licensed professional, but there are signs you can look out for to give you more insight into the romantic chhoices you’re making.
“There are many ways relationships with our fathers can affect our own romantic ones,” says Blake. “They can cause fear of abandonment, inability to trust, low expectations of men and even feelings of insecurity or security.”
If your relationship with your father resembles one of these common scenarios, Blake offers some related signs to stay on the lookout for.
You Have An Absentee Dad
Signs to lookout for: “You’re clinging on and wanting to be with him all of the time,” says Blake. “You may have fear of abandonment or rejection, stay in unhealthy relationships or bounce from person to person because of fear of being without a man. You may also be codependent, try hard to please the men you date and could be constantly checking his phone or social media.”
You Have An Emotionally Unavailable Dad
Signs to lookout for: ‘”You might assume all men are the same and therefore you don’t expect anything different from them,” says Blake. “You may also assume you are unlovable or unwanted and keep distance from men to avoid getting hurt. You may act like you don’t care but you do; you are just fearful.”
Your Dad Is Abusive, Mean, or Not Loving
Signs to lookout for: “You will more than likely pick someone the extreme opposite of your father,” says Blake. “You could have difficulty trusting others, problems committing, an dexpect the worst so you sabotage relationships first. You may be angry with men and therefore create conflict.”
You Have A Healthy Relationship and Supporting, Loving, Present Dad
Signs to lookout for: “You will look for someone just like your dad,” explains Blake. “You might compare all men to him, have unrealistic expectations, and expect someone to take care of you.”
While these breakdowns can be a helpful starting point, Blake recommends a woman seek the help of a licensed therapist if she’s looking to dig deeper or better understand how her relationship with her father plays a role in other as as well, beyond romantically. “Therapy is helpful to understand their role in the relationship,” Blake explains. “Many women are totally unaware that their father continues to impact their lives, especially in relationship.” Well, there you have it ladies. Step one: Recognize if there is an issue you’d like to address. Step two: Talk to someone about it!