I thought I was fine. I thought I had been one of the few girls it had not affected. Sure, I had a terrible relationship with my father. No, I haven’t called him in over a year. But I’d narrowly escaped the dreaded label. Girls with “daddy issues,” are needy, I thought. They so desperately crave the male attention they didn’t get from their fathers that they act out. They’re clingy to a fault, or they sleep around looking for love in all the wrong bedrooms. That wasn’t me. I was normal. I was healthy. I was well-adjusted.
I knew I’d endured a difficult past with my dad, but I coped with it. I talked through the pain enough. I got enough support from my friends and family. I was emotionally stable enough not to let it affect me when it came to boys. I was never needy in my relationships. I never played the victim for attention or seduced them for their love. I wasn’t afraid of guys, and I didn’t hate them. I had the perfect ideal balance of emotions to set me up for a good relationship. I surprised people with my stability. I even surprised myself.
Until I didn’t.
It wasn’t until I found myself in a serious relationship that I realized I’d been wrong all these years. It was foolish to think that my relationship with my father would have zero effect on how I turned out. My daddy issues were there, they just reared their ugly head in a way I’d never expected. While I had no problem trusting my new boyfriend, and I was never a dependent or needy girlfriend, I was…difficult. I found myself getting defensive very easily, and I wasn’t always willing to hear my boyfriend’s point of view. When he was upset with me, I was quick to assume his reasons were invalid. I was preoccupied with protecting myself, rather than listening to what he had to say, which sounded oddly similar to how I’d react to my easy-to-anger, hard-to-please father.
It was the same thing I’d been doing my entire life, and I thought just because I wasn’t crying in the corner over an emotionally abusive boyfriend, I was somehow immune to my upbringing. I discussed everything with my boyfriend, and together, we realized that my dad…and the issues that came with him did influence me. The truth is, we are all products of our relationships with our parents, particularly the parent of the opposite gender when it comes to heterosexual dating. And the sooner I admitted that to myself (and to my boyfriend), the sooner we were able to work through it.
You see, you can’t control when you’re hurt, and you shouldn’t have to. You can’t control how you were raised, and you can’t think you’re above something just because your circumstances affected you differently than they affect someone else — just because they affected you differently than you were told they should be affecting you. We’re all different and all of us process our emotions in different ways. And whether or not you want to call them “daddy issues,” your parents have so much more to do with your social interactions later in life than you’d like to think. And the sooner you recognize that, the sooner you can move on to a healthy issue-free relationship..