5 Telltale Signs Of Mommy Issues In Men: Avoidant Tendencies

Steffo Shambo

Updated on Sep 3, 2023
mommy issues in men

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you will have heard about women with daddy issues. Perhaps you’ve dated one, or even several… Some men even admit that this is their ‘thing’. 😉

Having a daddy issue can cause a woman to be promiscuous, overly needy or anxious in her adult relationships. She might get labeled as a ‘slut’ or drive her partners crazy with her constant need for love and attention. 

But we should have empathy and compassion for the women with daddy issues. As with many psychological issues, it usually comes from a poor or non-existent relationship with her father during childhood. It is not her fault, but if not tackled, a woman with a daddy issue can experience tumultuous romantic relationships throughout her entire adult life.

So what about men? Do men have daddy issues too?

The short answer is no. When looking at daddy issues vs mommy issues in men we don’t see the impact in the same way women have daddy issues. They have the same but in reverse: a mother wound instead of a father wound. They are equally as deserving of compassion and understanding as the aforementioned women with daddy issues.

In today’s article we will discuss this less flipped (or perhaps just less talked about) but still very relevant side of the coin: mommy issues in men.

Whether you are a man with mommy issues or a woman looking to solve your partner’s confusing behavior – this article should shed a great deal of light on this subject.

How do mommy issues manifest?

Let’s start by looking at what mommy issues in men actually are…

… At their core, mommy issues can be boiled down to a lack of trust in the feminine. This is most often due to not having received adequate love, care and attention as a young child.

As a result, a boy grows up with a trust issue towards the women around him.

He feels love and intimacy to be unsafe and his actions inside a romantic relationship usually demonstrate this; Mommy issues tend to manifest in their least severe form as resistance towards intimacy, or intimacy issues.

In their most severe form they can manifest as hatred of women, abuse, rape and even violence.

Age gaps

Some men with mommy issues may be repeatedly attracted to much older women. In these instances, a man is searching for the mother figure he lacked in his romantic partners.

Simultaneously, other men with mommy issues may be attracted to younger women. By going for those much younger than himself he is essentially avoiding the intimacy that comes from having a strong intellectual connection with a woman. It is not impossible for an older man to have a strong intellectual match in a much younger women – but it is rare.

Another kind of mommy issue – the mama’s boy

The opposite also manifests in women with daddy issues. They tend to chase older men. They are subconsciously or consciously searching for the father figure they lacked as a child.

When looking at daddy issues vs mommy issues, a man can suffer from an entirely different kind of mother wound. If a man has mommy issues meaning he is or was a mama’s boy, he may struggle to find a woman he perceives as being as good as his mother. This is much less common but still happens. Just as with men who did not receive enough love, men who received too much love from mom can have problems with relationships.

Mommy issues symptoms overall impact a man’s relationship with women. Women are seen as needy, demanding or simply not good enough.

Note: in this article, we will be focusing on the mommy issues caused by an emotionally or physically absent mother. Issues stemming from being a mama’s boy are damaging in their own right, but they are neither the subject of so much research nor the focus of this article.

smiling boy wearing a blue shirt with love your mama print

The causes of the mother wound

In most cases, a man’s mother wound stems from a difficult relationship with his mother in childhood.

According to Amir Levine and Rachel Heller (Attached, 2012), boys whose mother was emotionally/physically unavailable or unresponsive will internalize their need for love and attention.

During childhood, a boy needs to have a safe and secure attachment to his mother. A boy with a secure attachment to his mother knows that his needs will be met and emotional distress will be tended to, in appropriate ways, by his mother.

If a boy’s needs are not met by his mother, the mother wound is formed.

A boy’s mom does not need to be physically absent or not love her son in order to create a mother wound.

Many moms (for example single mothers) may love their children a great deal but be unable to give them adequate care and attention due to having to work or take care of a sick family member.

It is therefore easy to see how common mommy wounds are amongst men these days. More women than ever are choosing to keep their careers alongside being a mother.

Modern society encourages independent mothers

Simultaneously we are living in a culture where divorce rates are higher than ever. This leads to more and more children being raised by single mothers or being passed between two parents.

A boy who spends his precious, delicate early years among different caregivers will not be able to form a secure attachment to his mother.

Single mothers and divorced parents are of course doing the best they can for their children. Very few parents actually want to harm their child’s development. But the absence of a mother’s love holds lifelong implications for a son’s ability to have a healthy, loving relationship with a woman.

So, we now have a basic understanding of how mommy issues come about.

Next, we’ll look at exactly how mommy issues can wreak havoc inside of romantic relationships.


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How mommy issues affect romantic relationships: the avoidance attachment style

According to Levine and Heller (2012), a man with mama issues is likely to develop an insecure attachment style, with the ‘avoidant’ subtype.

What on earth does ‘avoidant’ subtype mean? For those of you who haven’t read Levine and Heller’s book (which I’d highly recommend), I’ll explain.

In the context of romantic relationships, most people fall into one of three categories.

These are:

  • Secure
  • Insecure – anxious
  • Insecure – avoidant

The former – secure – makes up roughly fifty percent of the population.

Second – insecure anxious – makes up another 25 percent. Anxious types need constant reassurance that they are loved. They are very comfortable with and indeed crave a lot of intimacy.

The latter of the three types are the bracket in which most men with mommy issues fall: insecure avoidant.

That lack of care they received from their mother as a child has made these men fearful (avoidant) of intimacy.

In a relationship or dating scenario, they push their partners away when they are coming ‘too close’. A threat is perceived and they distance themselves to feel safe again.

I’m guessing that if you are still reading by this point, you are recognizing either yourself or your partner in my words.

Not quite sure if there is enough evidence to pin them as having an avoidant attachment style due to mommy issues?

Let’s look at the five key signs that someone has mommy issues with an avoidant attachment style.

man sitting on the bed checking his phone while the woman is sitting far from him

I’m guessing that if you are still reading by this point, you are recognizing either yourself or your partner in my words.

Not quite sure if there is enough evidence to pin them as having avoidant attachment styles due to mommy issues?

Let’s look at the five key signs that someone has mommy issues with an avoidant attachment style.

Five telltale signs you or your partner have mommy issues

1. Speaking/thinking badly about mom.

This is the first and probably the most obvious sign of mommy issues in men.

A man with mommy issues usually doesn’t speak so well about his mom. When describing his life as a young kid, he may say that he didn’t get enough love, or describe his mother as being cold, unresponsive and unloving.

His relationship with his mother now that he is mature may be difficult or even non-existent.

A key sign to look for is frequency and quality of contact.

Men who have a healthy relationship with their mother will speak to her often. She will know what is happening in his life and vice versa.

A man who does not love or care for his mother so much may speak to her infrequently. He may take weeks, months or even years to tell her about a new partner. This kind of guy may feel like her interest in his love life is an intrusion into his personal life.

If you want to find out whether or not someone has mommy issues, watch his language when he is speaking about his mom. Is it full of compassion, love and admiration? Or is it spiteful, hateful and brimming with resentment?

2. Mixed messages – blowing hot and cold

The second sign of the avoidant attachment styles is blowing hot and cold.

Especially in younger guys who are not yet emotionally aware of their behavior, this can be very evident.

It’s an easy yet painful sign to spot.

A guy who is blowing hot and cold can come across as interested, attentive and loving at first. But as soon as his personal intimacy threshold has been crossed, he will start pulling away.

He may feel or say that he ‘needs space’ and disappear for several days.

Whilst he was once responsive and eager in text message exchanges, he might start giving two or three word answers or take hours or in some cases, days, to respond.

He may or may not use the excuse of being ‘busy’ to explain his sudden retreat.

Conscious avoidant tendencies

A guy on the conscious path to manhood may be well aware of his avoidant tendencies and therefore be able to explain the reason for his actions to his partner in no uncertain terms. His communication leaves no ambiguity surrounding the reasons for his retreat. There is accountability, responsibility and an awareness of the impact of his actions on his partner.

Unconscious avoidant tendencies

Meanwhile a young man or a man with less self-awareness may not be able to communicate with such honesty about the pulling away. In these instances he may simply say that he is ‘busy’. Believing his avoidant tendencies to be ‘normal’, he may be totally unaware of the hurt and suffering inflicted upon his partner. If she happens to be anxiously attached, the pain and suffering can be tremendous. If he is unaware of the psychological reasoning of attachment theory, he may see her as overly needy, annoying and even in some cases, pathetic.

This is one of the most obvious and important signs of a man with mommy issues. It is of course important to discern whether he is genuinely very busy all of a sudden or acting avoidant because of a mother wound. 

It is also important to establish if there is an awareness around this hot and cold behavior. If there is awareness, then this is the first step towards a more harmonious coexistence. If there is no awareness and no acknowledgment of this problematic pattern, well, Houston we have a problem. 

It is up to the partner to decide whether to stay in the relationship whilst staying comfortably silent and suffering, to raise it as an issue, or to leave.

3. Commitment issues

A man with mommy issues may well hold reluctance towards long-term commitment.

In real-life terms, this often looks like refusing to speak about the future. Any conversation about where the relationship is heading is quickly shut down.

This doesn’t mean that he will necessarily hop from one fling to the next very frequently.

Many men with mommy issues stay with one woman for a very long time. But any time when she mentions exclusivity, marriage or a shared future, he shies away.

4. Large age gap between partners

A man with mommy issues may frequently go for much younger OR much older women.

In going for younger women, he is essentially creating a barrier between him and his chosen partner. The large age gap (15 years or more) prevents a certain level of intimacy from being reached. Whatsmore these relationships tend to be of the fleeting kind… And so he feels safe.

Through avoiding women of his own age who might well be an intellectual and emotional match – he is able to keep himself from uncomfortable levels of intimacy.

At the same time, some men with mommy issues are only attracted to much older women. As explained above, in these cases they are searching for the maternal, loving, caring mother figure they may well have lacked in childhood.

old woman on the treadmill while talking to an old man

5. Seemingly unmoved by loss

The final sign of a man with mommy issues is seeming to be unaffected by loss.

Men with a mother wound may seem to be able to lose people, be rejected or go through a difficult event without feeling the tremendous sadness and grief that others feel.

This doesn’t mean that they don’t feel it. Researchers at the University of Illinois have proven that people with an avoidant attachment style still feel negative emotions very deeply. They feel them to the same extent as someone without an avoidant attachment style.

These individuals have simply learned to suppress their more vulnerable emotions over time.

In doing so, they are avoiding their ultimate fear: intimacy.


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Living with mommy issues in men

If you are recognizing your own actions/thoughts in this article or those of your partner – know that you are not alone.

Mommy issues are very common. The most important thing is to be aware of them. As with all shadow parts – awareness is the light we shine onto them.

Once you or your partner are aware of mommy issues, you can educate yourself to move away from the mode of operating. There is likely to be a lack of trust coming from both partners in any relationship where one partner has mommy issues. Trust issues are a major red flag. Rebuilding this relationship trust is essential to the survival of the relationship.

Mommy issues have a huge impact on men’s lives, and the lives of their partners are made even more difficult. Many men and women live their whole lives or go through entire relationships without even knowing what they are dealing with.

man sitting in front of the lake

Recommended reading

For anyone with mommy issues or even dating someone with mommy issues, I highly recommend reading the book ‘Attached’. It is a really informative, useful and practical guide to having successful romantic relationships whilst attachment-related issues are present.

I also have a free relationship training for men. You can take it here. If you want to go deep into healing your mommy issues in relationships, I highly recommend taking it. This training for men can help you make some big shifts when it comes to your avoidant attitude and can help you to discover the root cause of it. Once you make these shifts, you will finally be able to have a harmonious and secure relationship.

If you’re a woman reading this worried that your partner has intimacy issues – the first and most important thing I want you to read is that this is HIM, not you. Perhaps suggest he takes my training. And if he’s a man worth keeping, he should be open to it in order to help the relationship.

Romantic love is one of the most beautiful things this existence has to offer.

What have you got to lose by taking the training?

If you enjoyed this article, then you’ll likely also love reading:


What should I know about a guy with mommy issues?

Know that if a guy has mommy issues, he will probably also have attachment issues. Most likely he will be avoidant. Put simply this means resistance towards intimacy. A guy like this will need a lot of space and time to himself. If you are someone who is used to feeling a lot of anxiety inside of a relationship, you are best avoiding men like this.

What does it mean when a guy has mommy issues?

It usually means that he has trouble connecting with the feminine. The most common cause is a physically or emotionally absent mother during childhood.

What are common problems or characteristics of boys with mommy issues?

A boy with mommy issues may reject his partner when she comes to what he considers to be too close. An avoidant attachment style, fear of intimacy and stonewalling are also common problems for a boy with mommy issues. Spotting these red flags, in the beginning, is essential to making healthy relationship decisions.

Can a girl with daddy issues and a guy with mommy issues be in a relationship?

They can. In fact, a man with mommy issues will probably be very attracted to a girl who didn’t get enough love from dad. However, it is likely to be a very complicated relationship.

How often does a person have both mommy issues and daddy issues?

If a person had both parents either physically or emotionally unavailable, they are likely to have both a mother issue and a father issue.

What do mommy issues mean for you as an adult and who you surround yourself with?

Mommy issues mean that you may struggle with intimacy and develop an avoidant attachment style. Avoidants tend to surround themselves with other avoidants. But in their romantic relationships, they tend to go for a partner with an anxious attachment style.

How do you deal with mommy issues when you are a woman?

As a woman, the best way to handle a man with mommy issues is through educating yourself. The more you learn about the impact of an absent mother figure on a man, the more you will realize that it is not personal. It’s him – not you. You also must learn how to set boundaries.

What do mommy issues mean for you as an adult and how to disengage.

Mommy issues in men tend to lead to an avoidant attachment style. In order to disengage from this you need to go through some kind of deep work to challenge your thought/behavior patterns and structures.

What is the impact of a guy having an absent mother?

For a boy with an absent mother, there is no opposite sex parent to be attracted to (Oedipus complex). Sigmund Freud says that this impacts a boy’s development and has a huge impact on self-esteem. He does not copy the actions of his father to become more attractive to his mother. In this way, his gender identity as a male is impacted. According to attachment theory, an absent mother can also lead a man to develop an insecure attachment style. Trust issues are very common.

I grew up with a mother that hated me. Does that count?

Yes. A son who grows up with a dismissive or cruel mother will most likely develop mommy issues.

What to do when your mother wound gets triggered?

If it is your partner triggering your mother wound – tell them. Strong communication is vital for a great relationship. You can also seek professional therapy. Learning to set boundaries in a healthy way is essential.

Should you salvage your relationship with your mother?

If it doesn’t cause you more harm than good, then yes. Blood is thicker than water, so it’s a good idea to repair your unhealthy relationship with your mother. However, it is perfectly possible to function as an adult without doing so. Plenty of men have a strained relationship with their mothers yet a happy life and a healthy relationship.


Unleash the secrets of your inner fire of willpower, harness your sacred sexual energy, and embody healthy masculine energy.

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Steffo Shambo

Steffo Shambo

Men's Tantric Relationship Coach

Steffo Shambo is the founder of The Tantric Man Experience. The #1 masculine mentorship program in the world, where he’s helping men master confidence, sexuality, & purpose to reignite the passion in their relationship or attract a meaningful relationship. He’s on a mission to spread a conscious sexual revolution for men worldwide so that they can show up as integrated partners, fathers, and leaders.

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