Daddy issues is a term that often gets bandied about to describe women who gravitate towards older men. Its also used to label females who are perceived (by guys) as rebellious.

But is this pejorative phrase accurate? Moreover, are women really the only ones who can have daddy issues?

If you are intrigued by this topic, youve come to the right place. As a mens counselor, Ive worked lots of guys who inject daddy issues into conversations when describing women they date.

The problem they often get it wrong.

My hope in penning this piece is to shine a light on a term that is widely misused and often misunderstood.

Lets jump right on!

A person is said to have daddy issues when they have an unhealthy or absent relationship with their father.

Examples include a dad who was abusive (emotionally and/or physically) or a paternal figure who was not present during formative years.

At their core, daddy issues are a carryover effect from difficult childhoods into adulthood whereby familiar behaviors are replicated in romantic relationships.

Daddy issues can occur in both women and men but may differ in presentation.

If you’ve ever watched a Star Wars flick, you can see how the charactersLuke Skywalker and Princess Leia both might have the “complex”. It just depends on how you look at it.

In the field of personality psychology, the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud is credited with coining the term father complex; a $10.00 phrase used to describe someone who has unconscious associations and impulses resulting from an individuals poor relationship with their father.

Freud initially believed this neurosis only impacted males. But other psychoanalysts thought differently, such as Carl Jung, who helped to expand its application to both men and women (Roeckelein, 2006).

While we arent sure when the label first appeared in the American lexicon, its safe to say the term is loosely based off Freuds father complex.

In the context of personal relationships, daddy issues are often used as a negative descriptor usually targeted at women.

Here are some examples:

  • My girlfriend has only dated older men. Talk about daddy issues!
  • My wife cant stand overly assertive men. They remind her too much of her pops. Can you say daddy issues?
  • She constantly needs validation from guys. That girl has serious daddy issues.

But what about men? How do women use this term to describe the father complex with males?

Check out these examples:

  • My boyfriend likes to control everything. The man has daddy issues.
  • He wont commit to a relationship, just like his father wouldnt to his mother. He has serious daddy issues!
  • My husband thinks showing affection is effeminate. His father is the same way. Can you say daddy issues?

I hate to break it to you but just because a girl likes calling her man daddy in bed doesnt automatically mean she has a father complex.

Theres a massive difference between sexual play, which is sometimes wrapped up in BDSM activity, and actually having a complex.

That said, there certainly are women who do struggle with this issue and many freely admit this.

But what can be said of men who ask a sexual partner to call them daddy? Do they also have a father complex? The answer isnt that simple.

In other words, it depends on the individual and their past. But heres the difference guys will never admit to having this complex. Thats just not what men do.

Not that anything Ive shared here will change things. Guys will continue to label women as having daddy issues.

But at least the next time you hear this term (which is sexist) youll at least have insight that others dont.

Thanks for reading!

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Roeckelein, J. E. (2006). Elsevier’s Dictionary of Psychological Theories. Elsevier.

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