Society has ingrained in us the stigma of “daddy issues,” attributing certain behaviors to growing up without a father.
There are stereotypical behaviors that fit this description: dating older men, being promiscuous, clingy, or a serial dater. What society doesn’t tell us is that just because your father left or was emotionally absent, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll always act out, or that you’re required to have those behaviors.
You’re allowed to have grown up without a father and not have issues. Yet somehow, society likes to make us think that a lot of our life and/or relationship mistakes have to do with the fact that our father wasn’t present, when in fact, mistakes are a part of life.
Besides the typical behaviors associated with “daddy issues,” there are some other misconceptions about fatherless girls.
1. You’ll always pick the wrong men.
Okay, so you dated an asshole, which must be because your mom left your dad, right? Not necessarily. You need to consider the real reasons you dated him. Maybe you picked the intriguing hot guy that seemed so nice. Maybe you went against your initial gut instinct and decided to try dating him anyways (guilty!). Or maybe you were blindsided, and he was just a creep. No relationship or dating experience is perfect, and life is full of mistakes and finding ourselves. We’re allowed to mess up. It’s how we learn.
2. You’ll always have an explainable void that you won’t know how to fill.
We all go through periods in our lives that leave us feeling empty, numb, and drained. We feel emotionally void, or literally like the life has been taken out of us. Life has thrown some misfortune my way over the years that at times has left me feeling empty, but none of it stems from the fact that my dad was absent. My mom left my dad when I wasn’t even two, and over the years she’s done an exceptional job at balancing both parental roles. I’ve also had great father figures in my life with my grandpa and uncles, so I’ve never “lacked” a father. I’ve never felt sad when thinking about who’s going to walk me down the aisle one day, nor have I felt compelled to fill my life with poor behaviors and then blame my actions on being fatherless.
3. You’ll always have a fear of abandonment.
Abandonment has nothing to do with having a dad or not. Moms can abandon and be emotionally absent as well. Friendships and romantic relationships can fall apart at any point, and the feeling of abandonment can be very real. It’s best to pinpoint what’s making you feel that way and deal with it, through therapy or whatever means will help you. You don’t “always” have this fear. It can be there, and then it can be gone.
The truth is, picking the wrong partner, feeling an internal void, or fearing abandonment are very real, and can pertain to anyone, regardless of upbringing.
No one’s family life or personal life is perfect, we all have some kind of issue that we don’t publicize. I know plenty of women who had seemingly perfect lives growing up that demonstrate some of the behaviors society would define as having “daddy issues.” It doesn’t mean they do, it just means they’re living their lives in the way they want.
Your friend likes older guys? Maybe she likes that they’re mature. She’s promiscuous? Maybe she just likes sex. She seems clingy? Maybe she’s just extremely passionate. Whatever choices we make in life should be of our own volition, and it’s no one’s job but our own to judge the “why” behind those behaviors.
Remember that society doesn’t define who you are as a person. You define who you are and the mark you make on the world.
Next time you find yourself questioning your actions, try your best to figure out the root of it. Don’t assume it’s because you have societal imposed “daddy issues.”