You may be surprised to know how much your dynamic with your father can affect the way you are with your lover.
You may have heard the term "daddy issues" a lot, but you may have never felt like it applied to you. So many women go through life chasing after men who are bad for them and being comfortable with dysfunctional relationships because they have unresolved issues with their own fathers that have carried forward into their liaisons with other men.
You may not realize it, but your father created the template for your future interactions with other men. How well he treated you and nurtured you, how physically and emotionally available he was for you, and the words he used with you all influenced your notions of men and dictated your norm for relationships with other men.
As the primary male figure in your life, he certainly left his mark on you in ways you may not even be aware of. The dysfunctional traits he passed on to you, both subtle ones and glaringly obvious traits, have made their way into the dynamic between you and your lovers at some point in your relationship, and have certainly contributed to conflicts. You may be able to relate to one or more of the following descriptions.
If your father constantly picked on you, your appearance, your grades, or your behavior, then it may have affected your ability to feel good about yourself. When you're being bombarded with negative messages about yourself, especially at such a young age, you tend to imbibe them and believe them about yourself. No matter how lavishly your boyfriend compliments you, you cannot believe him or take them positively because you dislike your self.
If your father was emotionally distant and hard to please, then you were always working hard to prove yourself to him. You did whatever it took to get his attention, and often even that wasn't enough. In your relationships with your boyfriends, you may have let yourself go a little too much. You may have been willing to do anything to please them, and in the process you lost respect for yourself and also wore yourself out with the constant people-pleasing.
If your father was constantly disappointed in you or more focused on the minor errors you committed than on your major achievements, then you treat yourself the same way. You may be hypercritical of yourself, constantly comparing yourself to others and thinking you don't measure up. Or you may compare yourself with your boyfriend and think that you're not good enough for him. This can lead to a lot of insecurity in your relationship.
If you had an unavailable father whose love for you depended on you satisfying some arbitrary requirements of his, then you may never feel secure even when you are loved. If your father withheld love from you until you pleased him, then you will be in constant need of reassurance from your boyfriend. You are constantly afraid of rejection or of displeasing him, and you become extremely anxious when he seems even the slightest bit aloof despite being loving.
If your father passed away at a young age or left your mother when you were little, then there is a very real fear of abandonment you may struggle with throughout your life. When the most significant male figure in your life abandoned you, he set the tone for how you expect other men in your life to treat you. You are so afraid of losing the one you love that you either become too clingy or you become completely detached, unable to form deep bonds.
Sometimes promiscuity is a way of getting back at men by exerting power over them and then discarding them once you tire of them. You may be avenging yourself or your mother for the way your father treated you - if he neglected you or abused you or was unfaithful to your mother, then this might be a trigger for you. You are unable to form deep relationships with men because you despise them or because you believe that they will treat you like your father did.
If your own father was unavailable emotionally and could not connect with you on an emotional level, then you may seek out men who treat you the same way because that is what you have grown to be comfortable with. We often tend to repeat patterns in our childhood and seek out people who reestablish our childhood environment, so you may end up hurting yourself by chasing after men who cannot satisfy your emotional needs, finding available guys 'boring.'
It's difficult to grow up in an abusive environment because it damages you in so many ways. Being able to heal and grow after an experience as traumatic as that takes a lot of effort and counseling. Often, we hamper our own ability to heal from that by being drawn to bad boys who treat us the same way our fathers did. It requires a lot to break out of those abusive childhood patterns and to learn to date good guys who respect you and treat you right.
When your relationship with your father was stormy, and the two of you primarily interacted by yelling at each other or losing your tempers, then it's going to be hard to stop once you begin dating. You may look for conflict in your relationship, finding reasons to get mad at your boyfriend because you find chemistry in conflict. Unfortunately, the very things that turn you on end up pushing your boyfriend away and damaging your relationship beyond repair.
Your parents may have had a bad marriage, and you may have seen them constantly fighting or your father constantly cheating. You lost faith in relationships and no longer believed in love. When a man comes along who makes you desire a long-term relationship, you feel scared instead of excited because you're afraid you'll end up like your parents. You may sabotage your own relationship by pushing him away instead of giving into to the possibility of true love.
When your mother is constantly berating your father for sleeping with other women, you learn to be careful that your own partner does not do the same to you. Unfortunately, this may turn you into a jealous, hypervigilant girlfriend who is always interrogating your boyfriend to make sure he isn't being unfaithful to you. You may become very controlling or demand to know where he is at all times because you're afraid he'll be like your father.
If your father talked about sex as if it were a crime or a taboo and berated you for wearing revealing clothes, always trying to get you to cover up, then you may feel ashamed of your body and ashamed to have sex. You do not make an effort to feel sexy or attractive because you believe that it is wrong. You may even refrain from sex because it embarrasses you or makes you feel guilty, leaving both you and your boyfriend sexually dissatisfied.
Sometimes, relationships are a way of filling the void in your life that comes from not being connected to your father. You expect your boyfriend to take the place of your father, and he may not realize that he has such big shoes to fill. You rely on him to fulfill all your emotional needs, and when the relationship goes sour, its catastrophic for you. You become so dependent on him that your world falls apart and you are unwilling to let go.