Home  >  My Life  >  Relationships

Father Complex: 13 Effects of a Good or Bad Father on a Girl

The way your parents raise you affects more than you might think. Similarly, the relationship a girl has with her father. Do you have father complex?

Father Complex

None of us can control the family we’re born into – or adopted into. Some of us are lucky and have good, loving parents. If that is true, then you have a better shot in life. But others have the unfortunate luck of having neglectful, abusive, or even absent parents which can lead to lasting damage in adulthood like a father complex or narcissism, to name just two.

Regardless of what kind of family you grew up in, your parents helped shape who you are. The dynamic between you and your mother and father also helps shape what you expect from other people – particularly in romantic relationships. If a girl has a bad relationship with her father, it can taint how she sees other men. That could drastically affect anyone who dreams of being a potential partner for her in the future.

It’s possible that you aren’t that aware of the effects your parents have on you and your character. So let’s take a look at what damage a dad can do to his daughter, as a result, having her develop a father complex. Maybe you’ll find some useful tips to allow you to move past any sticking points in your life. [Read: Emotional attachment: 12 Signs your fierce feelings are unhealthy]

What is a father complex?

You might have heard of a father complex referred to as ‘daddy issues’. It’s basically an umbrella term for the effects of having a poor father on any child, following them into adulthood. These issues can affect any gender and can vary in severity, depending upon the father and how they treated the child at the time.

These problems then help to shape how the child sees the world and those around them, following them into their adult years. This then causes problems with forming attachments, abandonment issues, relationships, how they see the world, and their need for approval. [Read: Dating a girl with daddy issues: The full guide you must know first]

There are three attachment type problems which may arise from having father complex. These are:

1. Dismissive avoidant attachment style. A fear of being hurt and problems trusting others as a result.

2. Fearful avoidant attachment style. Often runs from challenges and intimacy, rather than facing it.

3. Anxious preoccupied attachment style. Being anxious much of the time and needing to be closer to a partner. This stems from fear of being left, probably because that’s what the father did in childhood. [Read: Abandonment issues and how it affects your relationship]

Of course, there are varying degrees of severity and it could be that someone with a father complex is affected in a totally different way. That’s what makes this subject so complex; because it all stems to what actually happened in childhood, how it made the child feel, how they understood it, and whether they dealt with it as they grew.

But a good father can raise a strong, independent woman

Of course, we all have our self esteem issues from time to time, but a good father is able to instill a sense of independence, confidence, and happiness into their daughter. He can teach her what not to stand for and how to believe in herself. This doesn’t mean she’ll never face a challenge or struggle with problems, but it means she has a strong foundation on which to build.

A girl who has a strong and positive relationship with her father will always feel like she has a supporter on her side and that will give her strength throughout hard times in life. [Read: 7 Simple ways to be a better role model for the youth]

The father complex, for good or bad

A father complex can be down to having a bad father, but it can also be down to having a father who was too good! Yes, it’s possible. Some people develop a father complex from having great fathers, because it makes it almost impossible to find someone who lives up to his ideals.

That’s what makes this whole daddy issue subject so confusing. To lay it bare and help you understand whether you may have a father complex going on in your life, let’s look at the good and the bad side of a father complex. As is customary, let’s start with the negative first.

What happens if she has a bad father complex?

Let’s start by talking about the consequences of having a deadbeat dad. If a girl had a father who was absent, neglectful, or otherwise abusive, then some of the following things might be a result – the father complex. [Read: What are daddy issues? 19 Signs to recognize a girl with this issue]

1. She dates older men

Think about it. If your father was not emotionally nurturing, then it’s not surprising that a woman would subconsciously like to date older men. It’s not like they say to themselves, “My dad rejected me, so I need to find an older man who loves me just like my dad should have.” But many times, it happens that way. They are looking for a “father figure” in a romantic sense.

2. She doesn’t trust men

Come on, if you were neglected by your father, you wouldn’t trust men either, right? I mean, your dad is supposed to be the only man who loves you unconditionally. And if he doesn’t, then that is a huge part of a father complex. A woman will always be wondering how a man is going to screw her over. [Read: How to get over trust issues in your relationship and move forward]

3. She has low self esteem

If your dad didn’t love you, then why would you feel good about yourself? Makes sense, right? Even if your mom loves you to pieces, there is still a psychological and emotional rejection that stays with women if their dad wasn’t around. As a result, she doesn’t think much of herself, probably because she thinks he didn’t.

4. She has a pattern of choosing men who don’t treat her well

You would think that opposite would be true. I mean, let’s say your parent abuses you, then wouldn’t you think you would go find someone who treats you well? Unfortunately, that’s usually not the case.

A woman with a father complex will subconsciously be drawn to men who treat her like crap – just like her dad did. That’s because it’s familiar to her, even though she doesn’t like it. [Read: Father daughter relationships and 10 daddy issues it can lead to]

5. She’s jealous and needy

Okay, so add these up: rejection + low self-esteem + untrusting + men who don’t treat her well. That is bound to equal jealousy and neediness. Again, going back to the theme of rejection here, she will always think she’s not good enough for a man and that he’s going to find someone else better.

That results in jealous and needy behavior. On some level, she actually expects men to leave her so she does everything in her power to try to prevent that. Ironically, it sometimes has the opposite effect.

7. She finds it very difficult to take a genuine compliment

Let’s say a woman with a father complex actually starts dating a nice guy. He’s good to her, treats her well, and gives her compliments. Weirdly, it makes her feel uncomfortable because she’s not used to it. Subconsciously, she feels like she’s not worthy of a man’s love or deserves to be treated so well. So she tries to “reject” that behavior in some way. [Read: The signs of low self esteem and ways to increase it]

8. A pattern of promiscuity, drug, and/or alcohol abuse

In order to fill the emotional hole in her heart left by her dad, a woman with a father complex might turn to having sex with a lot of men in order to feel “loved” by a man. In addition, she could also turn to substance abuse just to make the pain go away.

9. Ongoing relationship problems

Because she mostly likely never saw her parents model a good relationship, she also has relationship problems herself. She never had a good relationship with her dad, so she never learned how to have a healthy interaction with a male. So, the cycle continues. [Read: How to date with trust issues and learn to trust people again]

What happens if she has a good father complex?

Believe it or not, having a father complex is not always negative. The term “father complex” actually just means a psychological state relating to your father. So, even girls who had loving fathers can actually have a father complex. Let’s look at what happens when the opposite happens.

10. She has high standards of men

You can have a wonderful dad, and that’s great, but as a result, most of the men you have relationships with never live up to your standards. They might not be as emotionally available or unselfish as your Dad. As a result, you’re always disappointed in your romantic relationships. It might take you a long time to find a man who does measure up to your standards. [Read: Higher standards and why going low only leads to lousy relationships]

11. She relies on men too much

This may or may not be true. But if someone is a “Daddy’s Girl,” maybe she expects men to take care of her all the time. She might end up being too dependent on men and not develop a sense of independence that is unrelated to men. While that may or may not be bad *depending on your interpretation*, sometimes relying on other people too much can be to your disadvantage. [Read: 30 traits that make any girl a feisty, independent girl with a dangerous streak]

12. She might expect men to pay all the time

If a woman’s daddy always opened his wallet every time she asked for something, well, then she might expect every man to do that. While it’s great to be chivalrous, there is a fine line between chivalry and having a woman take advantage of a man.

13. She wants to be the center of attention

If she was constantly doted on by her dad, a woman with a father complex might expect to be adored and the center of attention when it comes to men. This could get old pretty quickly. [Read: 14 Signs of attention seeking behavior that masks their insecurity]

What can you do about a father complex?

It’s not easy to overcome a severe father complex, but it is possible. It requires a lot of exploration and learning to accept the past. This is the only way to overcome a father complex and stop it from shaping your future and your behavior in the present day.

Of course, there are varying degrees of father complex and some may be easier to overcome than others. For instance, a girl who had a great dad can have a good father complex. That’s much easier to overcome than someone who had a toxic father and has developed a severe bad father complex.

This is a huge subject and there are countless ways to approach it, depending upon your individual case. However, to show you where to begin, here are a few steps to take when learning to overcome a father complex. [Read: 14 Ways to overcome power struggles in a relationship]

1. Identify your behaviors and why

You can’t start to overcome a father complex until you know how you behave and why. Perhaps keep a journal and document the way you feel and how you act. That can give you some very useful information on the things you do daily without realizing it.

2. Delve back into the past

Once you’ve identified troublesome behaviors, you need to identify the potential causes. This may be a difficult exercise but you need to delve back into the past and try and identify the experiences that have led you to where you are now. This may be something you’ll need the support of friends and family for.

3. Accept that the past doesn’t have to shape your future

You cannot control your parents’ actions. It’s also not your fault that they acted in such a way and made you feel less than yourself or unloved. The only way you can overcome a father complex is by accepting the past, forgiving, and moving on.

That doesn’t mean that you forgive them for hurting you or any actions they took, it means you forgive the situation and let it go. It also doesn’t mean that you’re saying it’s okay, because it’s not. However, forgiveness is key in moving on from anything in life. You also need to forgive yourself for anything you have done as a result of your father complex. [Read: How to forgive someone: 15 Positive ways to unburden your mind]

4. Identify your triggers and work to reduce them

What are your triggers? What makes you act or feel a certain way? For instance, if your partner doesn’t call when hey say they do, does that make you worry that they’re going to leave you? Or, if your partner tries to move a little too fast in the relationship, does that cause you to back away? Identify the things which push you into a corner or cause you to feel a certain way. Then, work out how you can reduce or even eliminate those things from your life.

5. Communicate with your partner

Your partner may have no idea why you are acting in a certain way or why you react specifically to situations. Why not open up and talk about your past? That will help them to understand you far better and they can help you to overcome your triggers as a team. You’re not alone in this, let your partner help.

5. Seek help from a therapist

Some people with a father complex need professional help to overcome the deep-rooted hurt and overcome the issue. If that’s you, do not feel worried or ashamed – asking for help is the strongest thing you can do. It is also the bravest step you will ever take to get your life back on track and allow you to have strong and positive relationships with others.

[Read: 15 traits that make any girl a high maintenance woman]

As you can see, there are a lot of things that be the result of having father complex. Maybe you know someone who has one, or maybe you do yourself. But now that you know how to spot it, hopefully you’ll be able to deal with it better, or even overcome it.

Liked what you just read? Follow us on Instagram Facebook Twitter Pinterest and we promise, we’ll be your lucky charm to a beautiful love life.

Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...