Why Does a Woman's Relationship With Her Father Affect Her Relationship With Men?

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A woman’s relationship with her father -- whether they have a good, bad, or non-existent relationship -- has an impact on her relationships with men. Research shows that a girl’s experiences with her dad shapes her future romantic and sexual relationships.

First Male Relationship

A girl’s first male relationship is with her father. Growing up, she familiarizes herself with the model of her first male relationship and carries these relationship patterns into her future relationships with males. A father is the first man that a girl is attached to and loves unconditionally, according to a “Psychology Today” blog, titled, “How Dads Shape Daughters’ Relationships,” by clinical psychologist Jennifer Kromberg. A girl sees the way that her parents interact with her and with each other. This sets the precedent for her future behavior in, and attitude towards, relationships.

First Male Figure

A girl’s father is generally the first male figure she has in her life, so whether it is conscious or unconscious, she will choose a partner based off her father’s traits. Depending on her relationship with her father and her experiences with him growing up -- negative or positive -- she will either gravitate toward a male with characteristics that resemble her dad’s, or go for a male that has opposite characteristics of her father. Either way, her taste in men is modeled off her father. These characteristics can be physical, but are mostly related to relationship patterns.

Male Guidance

Fathers that are present in their daughters’ lives are able to give relationship advice and guide them through relationship milestones. They are also able to talk to her about the kind of guy they think she deserves to date, and provide a real life example of what that should look like. Daughters who have good relationships with their dads will most likely look to him for approval of their romantic partners.

Example of Effects

The study “Impact of Fathers on Risky Sexual Behavior in Daughters: A Genetically and Environmentally Controlled Sibling Study,” published in “Development and Psychopathology” in 2002, found that daughters who had poor quality fathers were more likely to engage in “risky” sexual behavior such as sex without protection, drunk sex, promiscuity and teen pregnancy. Similarly, girls with fathers who were absent in their lives were at a higher risk of engaging in sexual activity earlier on in their lives, and were at an increased risk for teen pregnancy, according to the 2003 study “Does Father Absence Place Daughters at Special Risk for Early Sexual Activity and Teenage Pregnancy?” published in “Child Development.”