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Mommy Issues in Men and How It Affects Your Dating Life

Figuring out the effect of mommy issues in men

Mommy issues in men are more prevalent than you might think, and can really affect your romantic relationships with women in a negative way. The problem is, that a lot of men suffer from mommy issues without even knowing it.

So, what exactly are mommy issues, what causes them, what are the signs that you suffer from them, and what are the steps to overcome them so that you can form healthy adult relationships?

What Are Mommy Issues in Men?

If you have always struggled in your romantic relationships, can’t find or keep a girlfriend, or struggle to set healthy boundaries in your life in general, it could point to potential mommy issues that stem from your mother figure during childhood. 

Experts often argue that for both men and women, the mother is the most important figure in early childhood. Therefore, if your mother-son relationship was unhealthy or even harmful in some way, it can have severe psychological effects that impact the rest of your adult life (if left unresolved). And this doesn’t just refer to abuse or neglect. Seemingly positive relationships, for example, if your mom tried to be your best friend rather than your mother, or if your relationship fell on the other end of the spectrum where you felt smothered by her love, can have equally harmful effects. These are what we call mommy issues in men, but they can occur for women too. 

The Causes of Mommy Issues

Here are the primary causes of mommy issues in men.


Babies depend on their mothers for care so they can survive. They need food, protection, and love in order to feel safe and cared for. So if a mother ignores, neglects or abandons her child it can lead to attachment and abandonment issues which affect all future adult relationships that child will have.


At the opposite end of the spectrum, some mothers constantly “hover” around their children and will not give them any space to develop independence or a sense of self. Mothers like this have not created healthy boundaries with their children. The child only knows their mother’s needs and desires and will struggle to transition to the real world as they grow up.

Trauma or addiction

Trauma comes in many forms, whether it’s generational trauma, or from a death in the family, a toxic or abusive relationship, an ugly divorce, a devastating accident, being socially ostracized, or something else. Depending on who is involved and the nature of the trauma, abuse, or addiction, this can severely impact the mother/son relationship and result in mommy issues in men.

For example, if your father died when you were young and you ended up being a source of emotional support for your mother (instead of the other way around), this can cause mommy issues. Another example is if your mother was an alcoholic or struggled from mental health issues like depression, and was not able to give you the care you needed.

Unfair expectations

Parents are human beings with their own issues, traumas, and emotional baggage. This leads to some children having very challenging relationships with their parents. For example, if a mother or father is arrogant, self-involved, struggling with their own mental health issues, or is a narcissist. This can lead to parents having unfair expectations of their children, like berating them for not winning a football game, or getting a B instead of an A on a test.

External pressures

External pressures from extended family, a religious or cultural community can also have an effect on parents where they prioritize other people’s expectations which affects the parent-child relationship.

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Signs of Mommy Issues in Men

Extreme jealousy

  • Expecting a woman to take care of household chores (cooking, cleaning, washing, etc)
  • Requiring constant emotional support from your partner
  • Trust and intimacy issues
  • Need for approval or constant affection
  • Struggling with commitment
  • Talking to your mom about problems in your relationship rather than your partner
  • Constant contact with your mother
  • Not wanting to spend any time with your mother or even talk about her
  • Being jealous, suspicious, and insecure
  • Disrespectful/misogynistic towards women
  • Thinking that you will be hurt by women you’re dating
  • You will do everything your mother says
  • Comparing your partner to your mom

How Do Mommy Issues in Men Compare to Daddy Issues in Women?

Daddy issues are the same as mommy issues but relate to the relationship between a son or daughter and their father. Both are rooted in attachment theory and relate to Freud’s Oedipus complex theory.

You’ll often hear the term “daddy issues” discussed in relation to women’s sexual behavior, but this has been taken out of context. Both men and women can have daddy issues and mommy issues. Daddy issues mean that as a child, you had, at best, a challenging relationship with your father which affects your adult relationships, particularly romantic relationships.

How Do Mommy Issues Affect Relationships?

There are many ways that mommy issues in men affect their adult relationships. Here are some of the main ways.

Attachment issues

Attachment theory is the belief that babies must form a healthy attachment with their primary caregiver. This is the first relationship that any of us have, which lays the foundation for all future relationships in our lives. Therefore, an unhealthy attachment can have a catastrophic effect.

There are two main types of attachment: secure attachment (healthy) and insecure attachment (unhealthy). Insecure attachments can lead to mommy issues in men. There are several types of insecure attachment.

Anxious attachment

An anxious attachment style forms if your mother figure was sometimes unavailable which led you to struggle to trust her. She may have been so distracted by work or personal issues that she couldn’t be fully present for you when you needed her.

This can lead to you being afraid that your partner will reject you or fail to be there for you, therefore you seek constant reassurance and emotional support.

Avoidant attachment

An avoidant attachment style forms if your mother ignored you or treated you harshly. Perhaps she was overly critical or expected you to take care of yourself in times of need. This can lead to you avoiding commitment and romantic relationships altogether. You may also struggle to show emotions or express your needs because you weren’t encouraged to do so. Women may see you as distant or cold because you were forced to be more independent than needed at a young age.

Disorganized attachment

If your mother was in and out of your life it can lead to a disorganized attachment. As a child, you would have been confused and distressed by this constant separation. When the mother returns, the child might seek closeness while also avoiding them. This can lead to mental health issues and impact how you form relationships as an adult.

Parenting issues

Mommy issues won’t just affect how you form romantic relationships, they can also affect how you parent if you do become a parent at some stage. For example, if a part of you believes that women are meant to take care of the house, you may raise your son and daughter differently and impart these gender stereotypes. You may also allow your son to get away with worse behavior than your daughter.

And you could struggle to form a healthy attachment with your children if you don’t have one with your mother. For example, if your mother “smothered” you as a child, you might subconsciously repeat this with your children and prevent them from developing their independence. If your mother was absent or distant for some of your life, you may show up in the same way with your children.

How to Overcome Your Mommy Issues

Going to therapy for mommy issues

The great news is that if you do suffer from mommy issues, you can resolve them with some work and patience. The first step is to understand the root cause, which we’ve discussed above. From here, you can work to overcome these issues.

Recognize the problem

If you suffer from mommy issues but refuse to accept that it is a problem, you won’t be able to fix it. Awareness and acceptance are key. Read through the above and do extra research to find out more about attachment styles and how your early attachment with your mother has affected how you show up with women today.

If your mother waited on you hand and foot until you went to college, and you now expect romantic partners to do the same, it’s time to recognize that this is not healthy or acceptable. If your mother abandoned you, and you now fear that you will be abandoned in a relationship so you avoid commitment, recognize the problem. If you lean on your mother for emotional support instead of your long-term partner, recognize that this is not healthy.

Set healthy boundaries with your mom

Once you have recognized the problem, it’s time to set healthy boundaries, not only with your mother but with all the people in your life. Healthy boundaries are essential to protect your time, mental health, and well-being.

For example, if your mother tends to be overbearing and you always allow her to tell you what to do and follow all her advice, it’s time to set a boundary. Reduce the amount of contact you have with her. You don’t have to always answer the phone or say yes to her popping over to your place! The next time she pushes her opinion or agenda on you, thank her for her advice and let her know that you will make whatever decision is best for you (and your partner if applicable).

See a therapist

There’s a reason that so many people have therapists these days - we all experience trauma growing up, whether it’s an insecure attachment with a parent, neglect or abuse, bullying at school or the workplace, or something else. Therapists can help you unpack this trauma - which is often subconsciously buried by us so that we don’t have to face it - and heal from it.

With a therapist, you can discuss what you did or didn’t get from your relationship with your mother and how this is affecting you today, how to set healthy boundaries, address mental health issues, any tendencies you have to people-please or be codependent or non-committal in relationships, and how to create healthy relationships.

Learn to put your partner first

If you are the kind of guy who tells his mother about all his problems and prioritizes her over a romantic partner, it’s time to take a step back from your mum. Consider not running to her with all your problems. Try and think about your partner first and how they feel about your mother knowing the intimate details of your relationship. How can you be there for your partner and show her that she is your priority, while still loving and respecting your mother? Learning to open up and be vulnerable with your partner is a key step in learning to prioritize them and their needs.

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