When a girl is born, she shines under the light of her mother through their sacred bond. As a toddler, she moves away from that union toward her father to develop her independence. Come adolescence, daughters usually re-join their mothers to find their femininity and learn an important lifelong lesson: that in order to feel satisfied throughout life, women need to go within themselves to find their happiness, an important evolution in becoming a well-rounded woman. But for those daughters who grew up in a complex family dynamic, where they did not re-bond with Mom and remained under Dad’s influence, they grow up to be Daddy’s Girls.
What’s a Daddy’s Girl?
Joseph and Sarah Elizabeth Malinak, life coaches and a married couple, met when they were working on their individual masculinity and femininity in a self-growth development program. Sarah learned her Daddy’s Girl skills at an early age and took care of men. When she and Joseph met, she was focused on coming from a quieter space in her femininity.
In their new book, Getting Back to Love: When the Pushing and Pulling Threaten to Tear You Apart , Sarah and Joseph explore the idea that Daddy’s Girls become women who relate to men in an imbalanced manner. By never rejoining with their mothers in adolescence, and remaining aligned with their fathers, Daddy’s Girls find fulfillment later in life by taking care of men. This behavior can move to the extremes on either end of the Daddy’s Girl spectrum, which manifests in two ways. The woman either becomes the submissive wife or girlfriend who acts like a servant and accommodates her husband’s needs before her own, or she becomes dominant, bosses her man around, scolds him in public, corrects his sentences, or second guesses many of his decisions. Dominating him stunts him and this allows her to take care of him by making him into the man that she wants. When she’s stuck in this pattern of subservience or domination, the motive to find happiness outside through her partner overshadows the need to take care of herself.
What’s a Mama’s Boy?
As Joseph explained in our phone interview from their home in Asheville, North Carolina, “You’ll never find a Daddy’s Girl without a Mama’s Boy, because they complement each other.” Joseph, a Mama’s Boy, explained that his mother was the primary influence in his life. A Mama’s Boy develops either out of the fact that his father was also a Mama’s Boy or that his father was emotionally distant. During the same pivotal teenage years as a girl, a boy learns how to push or pull on his mother in order to find his freedom, but if Mom hovers, imprisoning her son, and the son doesn’t re-bond with his father through the discovery of danger, power, and freedom, then the son becomes a Mama’s Boy. When this power struggle exists between him and his mother, the Mama’s Boy grows up to believe that he can only find his power by pushing or pulling against women, and fulfillment (like the Daddy’s Girl) is found through women instead of where it resides—as power within himself. When operating from the extremes, a Mama’s Boy might find his power by abusing women physically or emotionally. He might become a sex addict or hop through multiple partners. In the contradictory position, the Mama’s Boy can also begin to depend solely on his woman (insert the dominant Daddy’s Girl) to do it all for him. For the Mama’s Boy, it ultimately comes down to power, and trying to harbor that power by reflecting it off women while in relationship.
When Complements Attract
When the Daddy’s Girl and Mama’s Boy come together, it starts passionate and forms a magnetic attraction that makes getting out of each other’s bed like trying to keep double-sided tape from sticking to itself. Intimacy grows, the couple shares their secrets, and eventually, when the Daddy’s Girl and Mama’s Boy form their union, it progresses into a mirror of the Daddy’s Girl and Mama’s Boy parent-child dynamic.
Sarah, who became Joseph’s second wife of ten years, is also seventeen years his junior. She shared what can transpire when the Daddy’s Girl and Mama’s Boy shape their connection.
“It’s a fascinating relationship. They fall into their old pattern and either stay there and make it work and they are miserable, or a non-negotiable comes up, or one gets abusive, or another has an affair. In Getting Back to Love, we address the Mama’s Girl and Daddy’s Boy personality stuff to start making changes [in order] to get that love back.”
During their courtship, Sarah worked on not taking care of Joseph in order to work out her need to dominate.
“This is a pride-educing thing. When I refrain from being the man [an extreme of the Daddy’s Girl], I am so proud of myself. I allowed myself to be in this uncomfortable place and I’m giving Joseph the freedom to be the man [and be responsible for himself, even if] he might have to deal with resentment of the Daddy’s Girl not taking care of things.”
Develop Your Femininity
Sarah also shared what she did differently—by focusing on her femininity when she met Joseph—so that this Daddy’s Girl/Mama’s Boy bond could stick.
“I wanted Joseph to know [that I liked him], but I wanted to show him in a feminine way. [To do that] the woman has to wait and let the man speak first and give a man extended eye contact, which to me was a lot scarier then just spelling it out … I always let him contact me first. He disappeared and it was nail biting not to chase him, but I created a space for him to chase me.”
And Joseph noticed. He believes their relationship started in a stronger place than past relationships because Sarah took her time.
“Sarah drew a boundary by insisting we wait three months before sex. It allowed me to keep chasing her and created that ongoing sexual tension. It allowed me to be a man and continue to chase her and created the space for me to be in the masculine and she in the feminine.”
This blossomed into their marriage and their life coaching business, Ideal Relationships , so that they could take what had learned and take it out into world to support others.
Tips for Daddy’s Girls
Sarah and Joseph shared tips on how the Daddy’s Girls and Mama’s Boys can avoid the extremes to cultivate a thriving relationship.
- Give him something to chase.
Sarah says, “When the Mama’s Boy goes to his cave and processes his hurt, a Daddy’s Girl will go in there, yank him out, and process how she processes so it [the problem] can be fixed. It’s best not to be emotionally attached to when he comes out. Live your life, feel sexy, and be confident, even if you’re scared. Then you’re giving him something to chase when he comes out of his cave.”
- Give the man the opportunity and the space to make the choices.
“Many Mama’s Boys can’t make a decision without affirmation from their partner,” Joseph explained. “If a man wants to make a change, [he should do it himself and] the man should court her again when he feels assertive and sure of himself.”
- Give each other a chance to refresh with your same sex.
“Women want their mate to be their best girlfriend, but when we ask our men to be the best girlfriend, he has to put his masculinity on the shelf in order to do that,” Sarah explained. Joseph put it as simply as, “A man expresses his masculinity with a woman, but refreshes it with other men. A woman expresses her femininity with men, but refreshes it by being with women. Same-sex support is critical. It can be exhausting to be in relationship if this doesn’t happen.
Sarah excitedly said that Getting Back to Love is giving readers hope before they even reach the middle of the book. “We need to become aware of the subconscious that keeps sabotaging the relationship,” Joseph reiterated. “We have so many valid tools that we just have to reach out for them and use them
And for this self-diagnosed Daddy’s Girl, I’m contented that couples like Sarah and Joseph are handing out such tools.