On Daddy Issues.

According to attachment theory, our attachment styles in adult relationships were established when we were mere babes, based on our relationships with our primary caregivers, or parents.

I just realized that this year I’m working through my relationships with my parents through my relationships with men. The idea of daddy issues suddenly popped up for me this week. I googled “daddy issues” and urban dictionary gave me a bunch of definitions that shed somewhat twisted light on my recent sexual relationship with an older emotionally unavailable man.

2. Daddy issues
A girl wanting to be submissive and adored by a older guy, who will put her above all others. The sex is kinky, and the dominance irresistible to the male. A girl wanting to be naughty but sweet, just for her daddy :P”
“3. Daddy issues
Having an older man in your life that you see as the dad you never had that you have secretly always wanted to have sex with.
Ashley: Why are you always offering to help Mr. Martin when you know you’re not going to get extra credit
Danni: He’s just so charming and professional and sexy.
Ashley: Boy do you have some daddy issues.”

K, I’ve got to take urban dictionary with a grain of salt, of course.

But other internet hear-say has also been kind of interesting; there’s lots of conflicting information online about daddy issues. (Likely cause’ it’s a pop culture/ pop psychology term that’s being thrown conveniently to put down women??) Some websites say women who are serial monogamists have major daddy issues because they jump from relationship to relationship trying to fill that void. That’s definitely not me. I’ve kind of been anti-relationships. I identify as single! Others say women who are sexually aggressive and promiscuous have daddy issues because they’re using sex to fill that void. Yeah, that could be me as a I enter my thirties. Then the following is pretty common opinion: insecure women with low self-esteem who put up with unhealthy relationships have daddy issues. Not me either, until recently I suppose, where I’m sticking around in unhealthy situations attempting to objectively observe, analyze and draw conclusions until I reach some “aha” moment, like some kind of sexual armchair anthropologist.

What’s clear is that it seems like emotionally or physically unavailable fathers end up having some impact on women’s relationships with men. My father was an incredibly loving, affectionate, and goofy man. I was kind of his princess and loved his attention as a child. I’d get jealous if he gave his attention elsewhere. But my father worked long hours. He was the provider. My mother stayed at home. I think he liked it that way. My father was rarely home. In my teens, he wasn’t present emotionally or physically. My parents were on the brink of divorce every few months and my father was emotionally absent. It was a really difficult three years. Then I moved away from home. I haven’t lived with my father since I was 18. And my father has become increasingly more emotionally unavailable since then.

The thing is, in my teens to mid-twenties, I always dated really progressive, open-minded, loving, sensitive, good -hearted, “feminist” men. So what has changed? My friend said that these guys have been “safe” for me, and that it’s kind of boring for me. This is true considering I haven’t wanted a relationship in 5 years and I’m not ready to settle down in any way shape or form. Then recently in the last year or so I started dating men primarily for the sex. These guys tended to be rather “masculine”, unpredictable, emotionally unavailable and kind of “dangerous” or “exciting”. Anyone in the past 5 years who has wanted to be my boyfriend didn’t last very long.

Yet these emotionally unavailable, unpredictable men keep drawing my attention. There was some “un-feminist” things about the last guy I was (Lover #2) with that I kind of enjoyed. I liked that he was 10 years older. I liked that he wanted me to be his “girl”. I liked that he was dominant and “old school” in that way. I liked that he kept referring to me as sexy. I wanted to be sexy and girly for him. I really enjoyed our sexual dynamic. It really really turned me on. I also loved the idea of feeling safe and secure around him. I even liked the fantasy of going away with him on weekends, because he is wealthy and I liked him to be a provider. I knew from the onset that he was totally emotionally unavailable and had serious intimacy issues but I was trying to desperately create some sort of intimacy and something “real” with this man. I was trying to establish a progressive relationship based on respect, intimacy and communication….

…Which is what I’ve been trying to do with my dad in the last 10 years of my life.

And that “girly” girl in me? That’s still my dynamic with my father. We’ve never moved to an equal adult relationship. He doesn’t take me seriously. I’m still his “little girl” and not his equal and neither of us are trying very hard to change it around otherwise.

The question is, now that I know what I have “daddy issues” what am I supposed to do with it? Do I try and repair my relationship with my father? Do I continue to date emotionally unavailable men? Do I just talk with my therapist about this?Given all the things I liked about this last guy, does that mean that’s what I want in life or is this just a fantasy? Do I need to date more “daddies” to get this fantasy out of my system, or is this a part of who I am?

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