By Ella Thwaites | @ellathwaites_
We’ve all heard the term ‘daddy issues’ colloquially being thrown around in jest at people who prefer to date a man much older than themselves. It has been alluded to in music and movies for centuries but what does it REALLY mean?
Dictionary.com describes the phrase daddy issues as follows:
“Daddy issues is an informal phrase for the psychological challenges resulting from an absent or abnormal relationship with one’s father, often manifesting in a distrust of, or sexual desire for, men who act as father figures.”
In it’s literal sense ‘daddy issues’ takes origin from the psychological term ‘father complex’ (popularised by Freud) which was formerly used to describe men who had a tumultuous relationship with their father but after revision from psychologists, it was then used across the gender spectrum. From ‘father complex’, the slang phrase ‘daddy issues’ was produced.
Nowadays it is almost exclusively used as a derogatory term aimed at women. Though there are people with a genuine father complex that affects their romantic relationships, the term has been so removed from its origin that it’s rarely used to describe women who date older men, it is now often a means to gaslight women in any relationship. It’s just another way of dismissing women’s concerns by blaming their ‘daddy issues’ for any emotion they feel. Some men will seek out women that they deem to have daddy issues because they assume these women will be easier to ‘conquer’ on account of their unhealthy relationship with male figures.
Casually diagnosing women with ‘daddy issues’ is caked in misogyny and preserves the idea that women are crazy and weak and need looking after by men. Growing up without a strong paternal figure in your life doesn’t automatically make you susceptible to having a father complex and growing up with a strong paternal figure doesn’t make you immune to it. Having a toxic mindset about men is nothing to be ashamed of, your feelings are completely valid and you’re not ‘crazy’ for speaking on them.
Next time you want to throw the phrase daddy issues around, think about what you’re really saying about the person in question.