So-called “daddy issues” or “dad issues” are often linked to women who are struggling emotionally and acting out based on their relationships with their fathers. But the truth is dad issues affect everyone and even men have things they’ll need to work through to reach their full potential.
What are Dad Issues?
Saying someone has “dad issues” is a shortened way of saying there are unresolved feelings about one’s father. These issues, more formally known as Father Complex tend to create dysfunction and affect how we see ourselves.
According to Tina B. Tessina, PhD., a psychotherapist and author of Dr. Romance’s Guide to Finding Love Today, for a woman, “This can happen if her father was absent, if there were abuse or incest problems between father and daughter, if her father had addiction or alcoholism problems, or if her mother blamed her father for the mother’s unhappiness.”
But dad issues affect men, too, and whatever a man’s father struggled with will affect him as he grows older. And while men don’t necessarily seek out a partner to help them work through the unresolved issues, their relationship with their father (or lack of) certainly plays out in their relationships later in life.
As a matter of fact, relationship experts are quick to point out that dad issues can affect anyone, regardless of sex or gender. Despite the stereotype associated with women who have daddy issues, not having a healthy and fulfilling relationship with one’s father can make it difficult for men to form deep platonic relationships with other men. They might feel disconnected from their own emotions and struggle to create bonds with other people, intimately and platonically.
Importance of Working through Dad Issues
No matter how dad issues manifest, they are an indication that a previous relationship – an extremely important one – is undermining your emotional well-being in your current phase of life. It’s also important to address the issue and work through it. Otherwise, you’ll remain trapped and never reach your full potential.
It can help to attend counseling to discuss your feelings with a neutral third-party. You might feel comfortable talking to your significant other about unresolved feelings linked to your father, but if you’re having trouble connecting with platonic male friends, it might not be something you want to open up to them about. A therapist can help you explore your feelings and give you the tools needed to form better connections and have more fulfilling friendships.
Therapy can be especially effective if your dad issues are of the more severe variety. Everyone has certain aspects of their relationships with their parents that they need to resolve. Your father might have been there throughout your entire life, but came up short when it came to supporting you regarding a specific issue.
But if you grew up without your father in your life, only in your life part-time, or abusive or neglectful in some way, you could be facing serious challenges as an adult. Studies show that boys raised without fathers face a greater risk for academic-career failure and social maladjustment than boys raised in two-parent households. But researchers point out that it doesn’t have to be one’s biological father fulfilling this role. If you can recall any positive role model in your life, it can help you ease the issues you’re dealing with when your bio father came up short.
What Dad Issues Affect All Men?
Most men have dad issues of some kind, even if they are not severe. If a man can identify and resolve these issues, he’s more likely to have fulfilling relationships with his male friends, better romantic relationships, and a better relationship with his own children. Some of the more common dad issues faced by men include:
- Forming a strong bond with other males
- Sharing authentic, intimate feelings either in romantic or platonic relationships
- Feeling pressure from their father to achieve things that have nothing to do with their goals
- Pressuring their own sons to pursue goals based on their lives and not their sons’ lives
- “Living vicariously through” their sons because of their own lack of fulfillment
- Struggling to have fulfilling romantic relationships because of problems in their own parents’ marriage
Becoming a father yourself can exacerbate these challenges. Our own fathers define the roles for us and even if we’re years removed from the important role they played in our own lives, it can be difficult when the time comes for you to take on that role for yourself.
It can also be problematic when fathers aren’t able to show their son’s affection. It’s a common issue because society has traditionally been uncomfortable with male-on-male affection. Unfortunately, many fathers don’t understand how important affection, both physical and verbal is for sons. Men tend to be uncomfortable showing tenderness, emotion, and physical affection and when they fail to provide this to their sons it is potentially damaging.
Your goal should be to avoid replicating the problems your father caused in your life. But you also shouldn’t become obsessive about avoiding his mistakes. There’s a balance and discussing your issues with a therapist can help you find this balance. He or she can help you break down your issues into smaller pieces and deal with things incrementally. Nobody heals from emotional issues overnight, but small steps can have you feeling a lot better about things over the course of months or years.
Counsellor, and Men’s List Founder Dale Curd offers the last word, “Our fathers show us what men are made of. And on our journey to becoming a man, we take what they show us and what we think is ‘manly’ and we mould these ingredients into our beliefs and behaviour.” Curd adds, “We never question those ingredients and we never sift through them to figure out if they are true, healthy, or beneficial. Being our own man is a process where we constantly hone our essential metal into a shape we live with, accept, and love.”