9 Unique Types Of Pain Experienced By Daughters Abandoned By Fathers

The pain of being abandoned by your dad shows up in ways you may never connect. Once you know, you can start to heal.

Image of woman looking at the mirror, background image of a sad little girl superimposed Photo: Misha Voguel Via Canva | Myriams-Fotos Via Canva

My father walked out on our family when I was seven.

He didn’t disappear forever. He came and went, sometimes staying for a few weeks or days and then he would leave again. It was very confusing.

For much of my life, my dad and I had been really close. My mom worked days while my dad was at business school, so he was the one who took me to school, picked me up, and fed me dinner. We were very similar and I was so lucky to have him.


As a result, what happened when I was seven— him no longer being a constant presence in my life— was devastating. It changed everything for me. And it still does to this day.

It’s important for all women who have had a father disappear to understand that the pain that we feel is real, that you are not alone. Many of us have the same signs of pain in common, and many of those are the reasons we struggle to have a healthy relationship.

To help you understand what you might be struggling with, let me share signs of pain that can be the result of a father’s abandonment.


RELATED: How To Deal With Daddy Issues By Healing Your 'Father Wound'

Nine signs you're experiencing the pain of a daughter who was abandoned by her father

9 Signs Of Pain In Women Abandoned By Their Father

 1. You are a people-pleaser 

I know that when my dad came home I did whatever I could to make him stay.

I figured that if I was just nice enough, he would stay. I was sure that his coming and going was because of something that I was doing, so I did whatever I could to make him happy.


Not surprisingly, it didn’t work. No matter how nice I was, he left again.

I found that this need to people please is something I have carried forward in my adult relationships. Whenever there is an issue, instead of speaking up about what I want and need, I just try to keep quiet and be good. I try to be accommodating and not demanding, and do whatever I can to keep my person happy.

I am so scared that they are going to leave me if I don’t behave well, just like my dad did, so I keep my head down and hope.

Guess what? It still doesn’t work. If I act this way, if I continue to people please, my person still leaves, just like my dad did.

2. You have difficulty attaching

When my dad left I was devastated. We had been so close, and his absence left a huge void in my life. And, no matter what I did, I couldn’t get him to stay.


As time went on, and my father continued to come and go, I found myself becoming less interested in his doings. I stopped trying to please him to get him to stay, and I started distancing myself from him. I found that not engaging him when he was home made it much easier for me to not be so hurt when he left.

It was not a healthy coping mechanism, but I was young and I didn’t know better. So that's what I did.

Unfortunately, this detachment carried into my adult life. Whenever I meet someone, I proceed very cautiously. I erect a very tall wall and it takes someone a long time to scale it and get into my heart.

Why? Because I just don’t trust that, if I give this person my heart, they won’t just leave. So, I build these walls, and I don’t let anyone in.


These walls haven’t worked, however. More often than not, a man will stop trying to scale my wall and move on to someone else. If they do get over it, I still have a hard time attaching to them— something that puts a wedge between us and ultimately kills the relationship.

I know that I have this anxious attachment issue and I am trying to fix it, but the pain of my dad leaving runs pretty deep.

RELATED: What It's Really Like To Love A Person With Abandonment Issues

3. You struggle with your own neediness 

One of the things I really struggled with when I was younger was being very needy in a relationship. Not so much now that I am older and wiser, but it was definitely an issue when I was young.


When I got into a relationship, I was incredibly needy. I wanted to spend as much time as I could with my person. I needed them to shower me with words of affirmation and physical touch. I needed to get constant reassurance that they weren’t going to leave me.

Because I was a people pleaser, I needed all of these things but didn’t know how to ask for them.

So, because I never asked, I never got what I needed, which just made me needier and needier and that, ultimately, killed any relationship that I might be in.

4. You cycle through periods of depression and/or anxiety

I'm sure this one is not surprising.

When a daughter is left behind by her father, it’s traumatic. And this kind of trauma can lead to long lasting depression and/or anxiety.


The depression about the pain of the abandonment and, for me at least, because every time he comes back into my life he leaves me again.

The anxiety because of the unknown. Hoping that this time it will be different and that my father will stay, and of getting let down again. I always hope that it will be different, but it never is.

This depression is with me every day, and the anxiety is the constant companion of many of my clients. I have found that medication has helped, but it’s still emotionally hard when my father comes and goes.

RELATED: 17 Real-Life Techniques For Dealing With Anxiety Right Now (That Actually Help!)

5. You feel stuck in low self-esteem 

Think about how you feel when a partner breaks up with you, or when you have been in a long-term relationship with someone who treats you with disrespect. How might that make you feel? Perhaps like you are a loser?


I know that many women blame themselves when their father, who is one of the first and most important relationships for a girl to have, leaves. They truly believe that if only they are good enough, someone won’t leave, and that they are losers and unloveable.

How can a girl whose father left her not feel that way? After all, he is her father. Isn’t he supposed to love her, no matter what?

6. You feel disconnected from your sexual choices 

For many women whose fathers have left them, they are prone to promiscuity.

I can’t tell you how many of my friends and clients believe that if they have sex with someone, they will get the love and commitment that they want. Unfortunately, jumping into bed with someone is definitely not part of the recipe for building a happy relationship, and so their endeavors fail.


They try again. And again. And again. Hoping against hope that if they give their person what they want— sex— then they will stay. After all, when a woman has sex with someone she feels closer to them afterwards. Why can’t a man feel that way about her if she has sex with him right away?

Unfortunately, men just aren’t wired that way. More often than not, after they get the sex they want, they disappear, leaving a woman to look for another man to try to get to love her.

RELATED: After Being Abandoned In The Street As A Baby, A Woman Got A Long-Awaited Apology From Her Birth Father 30 Years Later

7. You have trouble trusting people

Does this one sound familiar if your father abandoned you when you were a child?


I am guessing it does. Again, the father is a very important person in a woman’s life, and if they can’t trust their father to take care of their heart, who can they trust?

As a result, women who have been abandoned have a difficult time trusting any man who might come into their life.

They believe that their person might leave them, fool around on them, or talk about them behind their back. They don’t believe it when their person tells them they love them or that they won’t ever leave.

Unfortunately, this lack of trust in a relationship will ultimately kill it. Trust is the key to any healthy relationship, and a woman whose father has abandoned her will most likely have a really hard time believing that their person won't too!


8. You struggle with being faithful

Many of my clients are sure that their partners will leave them, as their fathers did. And what do they do? They try to leave their partner before they are left.

Unfortunately, it is hard for abandoned women to walk away from their men for good so, instead, they cheat on them. They give themselves to another person, emotionally and physically, so that they can become detached from the person they love. That way, if the person they love leaves them, they believe that they will be ok.

This doesn’t usually work, sadly. Cheating on their person only makes someone feel worse about themselves, reinforcing the feelings of low self-esteem that are the result of their abandonment. And, when their partner finds out about the affair and leaves them, this just reinforces the belief that men leave. Always.

RELATED: How The 4 Attachment Styles Affect Relationships — And How To Know Which Is Yours


9. Emotional dysregulation plagues you 

For many women who were abandoned as a child, they have a hard time controlling their emotions.

Perhaps they have intense mood swings, going from highs to lows very quickly. Perhaps whatever feeling they are feeling, whether good or bad, they feel it very fully, often to a destructive extreme. Perhaps they get depressed or anxious and they can’t control it. Perhaps they are very impulsive and/or very controlling in their lives.

However it presents itself, emotional dysregulation is often the result of a woman being abandoned by her father. The trauma of being left is more than a child’s brain can handle and, as a result, it can misfunction.

Luckily, emotional dysregulation is something that can be dealt with with counseling, medication, and self-care. If you find yourself with emotions that you can’t control, seek help right away.


I wish that when a child is born, parents are given a manual about how to be a good parent.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen, and new parents are left to raise a child without a full understanding of what they are doing. They make mistakes —big and small.

Mothers are genetically programmed to stay and take care of their young, fathers not so much. Sometimes they leave, not understanding the impact that doing so can have on their daughter. It's an impact that can last a lifetime.

I am here to tell you that your father leaving doesn’t have to mean the end of your life or doom you to not having a healthy relationship. I encourage you to reach out to your doctor to talk about what you are dealing with so they can get you on the path to getting the help that you need to heal.


I did, many years ago, and can now manage those feelings that held me back for so long. I am in a healthy relationship, one that I know will last forever!

You can do it too!

RELATED: Dating Expert Explains That Men Getting Sexually Rejected In Relationships Is The Same As Women Being Emotionally Rejected

Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate who works exclusively with women to help them be all they want to be. Mitzi's bylines have appeared in The Good Men Project, MSN, PopSugar, Prevention, Huffington Post, Psych Central, among many others.