By Encompass Outreach Group
While we’ve written about the impact a mother has on our relationships, fathers also influence who we become and, therefore, how we behave in relationships. What kind of father you have, the specific type of relationship you share, and how involved he was in raising you all play a role in the relationships you seek out as an adult.
Fathers and Daughters
Fathers act as the main protector for daughters while they are growing up. Therefore, if women had a good relationship with their fathers, they normally seek out men in romantic relationships that are similar. On the other side of things, if a father was absent, mean, or abusive, those issues may come out in future relationships for the women who endured that treatment from their dads. This can lead to feelings of abandonment, insecurity, and low self-esteem and result in a fear of abandonment in romantic relationships, which can cause unhealthy attachments and problems with control.
However, even if a father shows unconditional love to his daughter, difficulties with romantic partners can still arise. If a daughter views her father as the perfect man, she may look for someone who is just like him, setting her up for disappointment when no partner is able to live up to that expectation.
Fathers and Sons
While daughters learn about relationships with men from their fathers, sons learn how to act themselves by mimicking what their dad does. This also applies to how they approach relationships. If a father is caring, dependable, and shows love to his family, his son is more likely to grow up to be similar and, therefore, treat his romantic partners with dignity and respect.
However, just like with daughters, the relationship a son has with his father can also have negative consequences. If a son grows up with his father behaving poorly, the son could end up picking up that behavior and carrying it into romantic relationships where it will most likely cause issues with his partner or spouse.
Whether you are a daughter or a son, your relationship with your father affects your future romantic relationships in many ways. In either case, if your father is absent from your childhood, it may result in anger that can come back to the surface in your own relationships. Understanding your specific relationship with your own father is the first step to gaining more insight into your current relations with romantic partners.
Encompass Connection Center helps couples learn how to resolve conflict and create fulfilling, productive relationships. We offer a free relationship assessment to determine your relationship’s strengths and potential threats, some of which might stem from the relationship you had with your father. For more help, look into our RINGS Experience, which includes marriage strengthening exercises and a coaching model to help build real intimacy and growth skills. We also offer a free parenting assessment, as well as several other resources, for parents who want to learn more about the impact they are having on their child and build more balanced and satisfying family dynamics.
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.