20 Signs of an Emotionally Absent Father (And Signs in You)

I divided these signs equally into two: first, the signs you may see in your father; and second, the signs you may see in yourself now that you’re an adult.

However, you could also try to recall your childhood or youth and realize that most of these signs, if not all, may have also held true.

Daddy issues is often a disparaging term used for women who find it difficult to connect with other people mainly because they had a poor relationship with their father. However, it’s not necessarily exclusive to women—anyone can have “daddy issues.”

The appropriate term is attachment issues or attachment wounds, in which a young child’s difficult relationship with their caregivers makes it hard for them to form secure relationships in their adulthood.

signs of an emotionally absent father

20 Signs of an Emotionally Absent Father

Part 1: 10 Signs You See in Your Father

1. Your father avoids any talks that involve feelings.

For one, he thinks it serves everybody well to be “tough” (or at least look tough). He has not dared to look into that thing called attending to your emotions, and never learned that you have to. Therefore, attempts to have a somewhat emotional talk don’t exist because the whole idea of it is simply unknown. You don’t speak of it.

2. Your father subscribes to authoritarian parenting.

Because emotional wellbeing is the last thing he’d consider, he demands unquestionable obedience. All he knows is that if he instills fear in you, you’re likely to follow everything he says and believe that his wisdom will set you for life.

Related: Why Are Dads So Mean to Their Daughters?

3. He suffers from some form of addiction.

Addiction is a sort of escapism. Most likely he’s trying to escape some trauma he experienced in his childhood, too. And because he has not healthily dealt with it, he could not muster the courage to accommodate you on an emotional level.

Instead, he prioritizes his needs. He may be on alcohol, drugs, porn, food, social media. It doesn’t really matter what the addiction is, but your relationship with him suffers because of it.

4. Your father is too permissive.

Constantly being permissive may mean you were raised with Childhood Emotional Neglect. This may be the case if your father has never tried to settle his emotional issues. He simply gave up and now thinks that dealing with emotions is a lost cause so he might as well not try at all.

5. Ironically, your father focuses on your reactions rather than addressing underlying issues.

Because your emotionally distant father is disconnected from himself, outbursts are common.

But when it’s you who need to vent or complain about anything, it becomes a big deal and now you’re “overreacting.” The buck stops there. No need to understand why that is, or what the problem is, if any. Then you get confused because your father can’t guide you through it all.

Related: Why Are Fathers Mean to Their Sons? (10 Reasons!)

6. Your father is usually not interested in what’s happening in your life.

An emotionally available father will have pleasant feelings about you and will want to connect with you and learn about you more.

Your father is simply tired or always preoccupied. He prioritizes his needs. How can he accommodate you in such a scenario?

7. Your father refuses to admit mistakes.

An emotionally absent father makes him an irresponsible one because of it. He’ll get himself off the hook whenever he can. No worries. No problems. It’s the mature version of YOLO. He’ll always blame it on something or someone else.

8. Your father is too “goal-oriented.”

Of course, at the expense of relationships.

You know how he wants to accomplish something at an expected time, or how he anticipates something to happen, but with the catch that it must push through no matter what?

Your emotions are not important. Just do that undertaking and do it well, even if it’s beyond your skill set.

He loves to “accomplish goals” with disturbing disregard for the people around him.

9. Your father is a master in awful communication.

In communicating, you employ empathy, because you want the other person to fully understand you.

An emotionally absent father, however, will have none of that. He expects you to understand him, stat! Plus points if you can showcase your expertise in mind-reading.

Related: 24 Signs of a Bad Father-Son Relationship You Must Watch Out For

10. You feel bad after interacting with your father.

There may be a constant attempt to genuinely connect with him. And this gets you exhausted. You commit to being that person who tries to infuse joy into the air, but it leaves you feeling empty. It’s just wrong. But nothing’s wrong with you. You’re just not suited to entertain an emotionally absent father.

Part 2: 10 Signs You See in Your Yourself

1. You’re showing familiar patterns of abuse.

If someone says you’re angry like your father, then pay attention. These patterns may be hard to notice at first, especially if you have kids who fully depend on you.

These patterns of abuse are ingrained in you that fighting them must be deliberate and proactive. It may require an immense amount of focus and work. It’s worth it.

2. Fear of abandonment.

Research shows this may be a result of insecure attachment. Because you have abandonment issues, you now do your best to keep the people around you.

  • You become a people-pleaser
  • You bottle up negative emotions
  • You’re too worried that your lover will leave you
  • You take disagreements as an attack against you as a person

3. You’re only attracted to older men.

Your father left a hole in your soul and you compensate for this by having relationships exclusively with older men. It’s not a bad thing per se. But the motivation may be unhealthy, and the result may bring imbalance because your romantic relationship becomes somewhat an extension of that which you have with your father.

Related: 8 Effects of Emotionally Distant Fathers on Sons

4. Promiscuity.

Research links risky sexual activity with having an emotionally distant father. Because of the fear of abandonment, sex becomes an avenue for feeling accepted, wanted, and loved. Sex feels good, but it can keep you from realizing that you had a difficult relationship with your father and that you need to heal from it first.

5. Jealousy.

Research shows that women who were abandoned by their fathers are more likely to be anxious and jealous in romantic relationships. It’s a trust issue when relationships are based largely on trust. You may get anxious over your partner’s actions, but you can take solace in the fact that you have attachment issues because of your father.

6. You need constant reassurance of love and affection.

Related to fear of abandonment, you may be annoying or unnecessarily stressing out your lover because you need to hear that you are loved.

You are loved. Perhaps not by the person you expect, but that’s okay. Find your lover. Find your friends. Reach out and soon you’ll have your chosen family.

7. You start to believe that all men are the same.

Your father has set standards on how men should be, or how men should treat women.

If you think “there’s no hope for men,” then you are likely blinded by the things you learned from your emotionally absent father. You got used to those standards that you never thought of questioning them.

Related: Why Do I Feel Sad around My Family? (What Can I Do?)

8. You’re anxious about expressing yourself, let alone opening up to someone.

We are social creatures and we need each other.

But you continue to repress your emotions because you don’t know how to express them in the first place, and you got used to your father letting you down.

9. Low self-esteem.

Those previous signs I pointed out, over the long haul, can take a hit on your self-esteem.

Add to that your handicap in connecting with people you like, probably while trying to heal from the drama and hurt from having an emotionally distant father.

But don’t worry, think of them as mere reactions. You needed them to cope and survive. It’s okay. With the right knowledge, dedication, and work, you got this!

10. You overcompensate as a parent.

This could be a good thing. It’s your way of breaking the cycle that has likely plagued your family tree.

You may be emotionally available for your kids, but you may also be spoiling them with other things (material or otherwise). Now you may be on the too-permissive side.

In any case, what matters is that you’re well aware of your relationship with your father and you can identify his shortcomings, so your family can have better.


Image Credits: Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

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