By Marc Alexander

It sounds like a funny question, but it’s one a lot of women should ask themselves when they are about to take the plunge in a relationship. Honestly, I cringe when I hear a grown woman call a man “Daddy.” Sure, they may be just playing, but there may also be a real issue there, too.

Unfortunately, far too many women have “Daddy Issues”: Either they had no father or positive male role model at all, or they had a father who smothered them with attention as children and made it impossible for any other man to ever measure up to his ridiculous standards of emotional coddling and financial commitment.

Men are stronger and bigger, physically, (most times) than women, and we are socialized to be protectors and providers. Women are socialized to expect those qualities in us; and if they aren’t protected and provided for in their formative years, they may look for someone to provide that down the road – sometimes, to an unrealistic extent.  If unresolved and unaddressed, these “Daddy Issues” can linger and fester and undermine your future relationships with men.

Photo courtesy of: covenantrelationships.org


I hear it from women all the time: They want a man to be a man. They want their man to be aggressive, proactive and protective of them in all areas across the board. But where do you draw the line between “partner” and “paternal”? After all, only a few letters separate the two.

A man’s role in the male/female dynamic is subtly and subconsciously communicated to and reinforced in us every single day of our existence. Being looked upon as the leader in a relationship is empowering because it feeds our egos – plain and simple. Sometimes we measure up to those expectations and sometimes, probably too many times, we run from those expectations like a crook from the cops. It all boils down to managing and communicating your expectations effectively.

For instance, talking about money is always a fire starter in a relationship, but money issues don’t have to be deal breakers if you’re in agreement about money matters. A man picking up the check at dinner or buying you a drink is one thing, but expecting your boyfriend/husband to pay some of your personal bills is another. Also, expecting him to shower you with attention to the detriment of his other relationships will probably be a no-go, too.

If you find yourself catching negative feelings because you feel he is not fulfilling an emotional or financial need (or obligation), then you should to ask yourself what your relationship is based on.  To put it another way: Are you looking for a man, or are you looking for a “Daddy?”

Excessive neediness and unrealistic expectations can conjure images in his mind of him as your “father” concept and it is unwelcome and unhealthy. Because once you get to the point where he utters “I’m not your father,” you’re already pogo-sticking in a mine field.

Maintaining a healthy relationship requires maintaining balance: balance in commitment and balance in power.  Submitting to the point that your partner’s position moves out of the husband/boyfriend zone into Daddy-daughter territory can lead to a mess – especially if you find a guy who really enjoys dominating you. Think about it: What happens when you do something he doesn’t like; or you refuse to do something that he wants you to do? We all know the measures fathers can take when their children misbehave. So, if you don’t want to be put in “time out” or be sent to the back yard to get a “switch,” you probably should stay away from turning you man into your “Daddy.”

Dating a cougars can be hot, but no man wants to go to bed with his Mama. The same can and should be said for women. Before you think about committing to someone, make sure you know exactly who you are in the relationship. Be true to yourself, and be clear about what you are signing up for. Most importantly, be honest about what you want from him. The question “Who’s Your Daddy?” only has one right answer, and that answer should never be the person you’re in a relationship with.

Marc Alexander is a Los Angeles-based writer, photographer and purveyor of urban culture.



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