Mommy Issues In Women: How To Heal And Move Forward In Love

Steffo Shambo

Updated on Aug 11, 2023
mommy issues in women

We’ve all heard about men with mommy issues. But a lesser discussed topic is mommy issues in women. Today we’ll find out how lugging around the weight of a mother wound can wreak havoc on your life, work and relationships – often without you even realizing it.

Table of Contents

Mommy issues: not just a ‘man thing’

There is a great deal of literature and research on the subject of mommy issues in men. These can lead to a man having an avoidant attachment style or a fear of intimacy.

But what about mommy issues in women? When it comes to women and their relationships with their parents, the father is most frequently discussed. Hence we might believe that men have mommy issues, and women have daddy issues. Period.

But that is not the case. Just as men can also have daddy issues, women can have mommy issues. They are just a little harder to spot, and more insiduous.

Mommy issues in women are a slow and subtle poison. Hence the need to shed more light on the subject. Once we have identified that A) there is a problem and B) where it is coming from, we can take the appropriate steps to solve it.

In today’s article, I will attempt to bridge this information gap. This gap is blocking so many women from healing and achieving the life and relationship they most truly desire. I’ll give a clear breakdown of what mommy issues in females actually are and explain how they can show up in your romantic life. I’ll explain the immense damage the Mother wound can cause – both to the woman and to those closest to her. I will also outline how you can leave your past behind you and start healing NOW, in order to live the most joyful and abundant life possible.

Characteristics of the Mother wound: what are mommy issues in women?

There are many kinds of mommy issues in women. And there is no single category in which all women with mother issues fit. The common denominator in any parent-child issue is the repeating or reemergence of a childhood pattern later in life.

Our relationship with our parents, and whether or not we subconsciously believed as a child that we could get our needs met, defines how our relationships will transpire throughout our adult life.

Let’s start with a simple example. A woman who was harshly and continually criticized by her mother for not doing well enough at school.

There is a lot of talk in the psychological world today about CPTSD. This is largely due to the very popular book, CPTSD: From surviving to thriving.

In the book, the author explains the intricacies of complex post traumatic stress disorder. The main takeaway is that small but chronic traumas have a massive impact upon the developing human being.

So when a daughter was constantly criticized by her mother, she would effectively grow up traumatized. Her behavior towards herself, other people and in relationships would be skewed as a response to this trauma.

Being a doormat and people pleasing behavior

Dirty shoes on a clean doormat

On the low end of the spectrum, this woman could grow up to believe that she had to over-achieve in order to get approval. This could extend to her colleagues, boss and wider peer group. She may resort to people pleasing behavior and hence become a doormat for other people.

Low self-esteem, mental health issues and eating disorders

At a more extreme level, she may grow up with a deep-rooted belief that she is utterly inadequate. Constant criticism and shaming from her mother may cause her to turn against herself and resort to very damaging coping mechanisms. Women who had overly-critical mothers often have low self-esteem. There are many recognized mental health problems that stem from low-self esteem related to mommy issues. These include eating disorders anorexia and bulimia, anxiety and depression.

womans feet facing the mirror

How do mommy issues in women impact relationships?

It is important to note that 100 people could go through the same upbringing and have their psyches affected in 100 different ways.

Let’s continue with the example of the overly-critical mother. This could affect a woman’s adult romantic relationships in the following ways:

  • Being with critical romantic partners who echo the harshness of her mother
  • Resorting to people-pleasing behavior in a relationship
  • Holding no boundaries and saying yes to everything – hence being walked over and dominated
  • Being dependent upon her partner for validation and approval that she never got from mom
  • Searching for the loving mother figure she never had, and therefore choosing men who are much older than her
  • Having issues with emotional intimacy in the form of an avoidant attachment style

Other kinds of mommy issues in women

Hopefully you can now see that the same mother-child relationship can cause problems to manifest in very different ways. The reaction varies from person to person, depending on other factors. The factors include biology and environment, both of which have a huge impact on the developing child.

There is also a great deal of variation in the type of mother wound itself. Other kinds of mommy issue include:

The overbearing mother

In this relationship, a child feels smothered and like they are unable to breathe. This is often the case with single parent/only child relationships. In this case, a woman with an overbearing mother can grow up to be overly independent. A single mom can behave as though her entire world revolves around her daughter. This can feel suffocating and is a heavy burden to carry. Hence the woman grows up with a desire to fiercely protect her independence. Inside of romantic relationships, she fears losing her autonomy. She may push away a partner when she feels they are coming too close and that she may be about to be suffocated.

However, having an overbearing mother can also cause the opposite reaction. A woman may have grown up with so much love and care from her mother that she is unable to emotionally and physically care for herself. She might depend on her partner for validation and life matters such as paying bills, household tasks, etc.

The emotionally unavailable mother

Sad girl lying alone on the bed

Sometimes, mommy issues in women are related to an emotionally unavailable mother. This kind of mom is withdrawn and incapable of consistently showing love and affection. The child of an emotionally unavailable mother may grow up to feel unloved and unwanted.

In some cases this leads to an avoidant attachment style in later life. A close, intimate relationship may feel unsafe and cause a woman to push away her partner. This is because she perceives him to be coming too close. Intimacy does not feel safe. On the contrary it feels like a threat to her very survival. So she pushes the intimacy away. This may lead to issues with sexual intimacy, which can also feel deeply uncomfortable.

In other cases, having an emotionally unavailable mother may lead to an anxious attachment style. This kind of woman deeply craves intimacy, love and connection. So much so that she arranges her whole life around it. Romantic relationships are the focal point of her entire life. At the same time as craving connection, she deeply fears losing it. This can make romantic relationships feel like heaven and hell at the same time.

A woman with anxious attachment reads a lot between the lines. She projects problems and threats that do not exist. This is all due to an innate craving for the love she was not able to receive as a child. This created a gaping chasm inside of her and she has made it her life’s mission to fill it. Jealousy can also be present. A lot of jealous women have an anxious attachment style. They feel deeply threatened by other women. This is connected to low self-worth and a weak sense of identity.

The unreliable mother

Sometimes, a young girl’s mother may be very loving and emotionally available. But if the mother is struggling with mental health, alcoholism or drug addiction, this loving presence may be very unreliable.

This kind of mommy issue is very different to a girl who had an unloving mother. A loving but inconsistent, erratic mother can result in an inconsistent, erratic state of mind for the child.

Having an unreliable mother usually leads to a fearful avoidant attachment style in adulthood. A fearful avoidant partner oscillates between an anxious attachment style and an avoidant attachment style. This attachment style is also referred to as disorganized attachment style. And this title really reflects the inner landscape of the person.


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A woman who grew up with an erratic mother may crave a great deal of closeness and intimacy some of the time. Yet at the same time, she is deeply afraid of intimacy. Dating someone with this attachment style can feel like a rollercoaster. Some days it can feel like their entire world revolves around you. Then, they may suddenly retreat. For no apparent reason, they don’t talk to you for days in a row.

This is both troublesome to the partner of the fearful avoidant and the fearful avoidant themselves. Women with this kind of mommy issue tend to be easily hurt. They are prone to sudden outbursts of anger. Predicting their reactions can be difficult and you may feel as though you are walking on egg shells around them. If this sounds like you, remember: your partner is suffering too. Her behavior comes from a deep wounding in childhood. Try to have compassion and understanding for the young child inside. If you are the fearfully avoidant woman then equally, try to have compassion for yourself.

Mommy issues in women and the influence of the subconscious mind

As we can see, there are many kind of mother issues. And the same mother-daughter dynamic can be expressed very differently among unique individuals.

Remember: almost all of this behavior takes place due to the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is the main driving force for almost all human behavior. Of course no woman would ever seek out an abusive partner on purpose. Nor would they actively look for a mother figure in their romantic partner.

Childhood programming and attachment issues cause the subconscious mind to drive our behavior in a way that keeps us safe. Or at least keeps our experiences of love coherent, familiar and understandable. When we are under the influence of our subconscious mind, we make all kinds of questionable decisions. We behave in a way that the conscious mind could not comprehend.

How to handle mommy issues in a relationship

So, we have seen how mommy issues in women come about. We have also seen the stark contrast in their manifestation. Hopefully, you can now see that it is the subconscious mind that is driving all of this behavior… But now what?

Perhaps you had a lightbulb moment reading this, realizing you have a mommy issue. Or perhaps you’re the partner of a woman whom you suspect might have one…

… Either way, you’re not alone.

It is almost impossible to escape childhood unscathed. The vast majority of us are carrying around some kind of wounding related to one of our parents. In some cases, both parents!

Your suffering is real and valid. Childhood programming runs deep and is incredibly hard to shake off.

The key to healing mommy issues is understanding that it has nothing to do with your mom anymore. By this I mean that you cannot change the past. Nor can you force your mother to change. Your childhood experiences were what they were. They were not your fault, but they are your responsibility to heal from.

Some people think that fixing a mommy issue means fixing the relationship with your mom. In some cases this can help. But in others it is not possible, and only causes more pain, shame and suffering.

You may not be able to salvage a strained relationship with your mother. But you can change your relationship with yourself and with life.

Mommy issues in women: your healing, your responsibility

Accepting that your mother may never change can be hard. But once accepted, it can be very liberating. This gives you the autonomy to take the responsibility away from her And put it into your OWN hands.

Identify if your attitude towards men, love and relationships is tainted by a mother wound. Look at your past lovers. Do they all share one or two characteristics that your subconscious found utterly irresistible, but that were absolutely terrible for you at the same time?

Perhaps you gained a penchant for emotionally unavailable men because that was the only kind of love that felt familiar to you?

Or maybe you have an avoidant attachment style, and sabotage any good thing that comes your way because intimacy makes you feel threatened to the core?

OR, maybe you have self-identified as a doormat parter. Saying yes to everything. Holding no boundaries. No concept of where you end and he begins?

Whatever the mommy issue, and whatever its unique manifestation in your romantic life. Things can always be turned around. But for that we first need awareness. Second, we need to take ownership. Hopefully this article has shone a light onto some of the darker areas of your psyche.

Recognize the repeating patterns in your love life. Then, actively go against them. Identify what is coming from childhood wounding or CPTSD, and what is coming from a healthy place. If you are anything like I was a few years ago, you might realize that almost ALL of your actions are coming from childhood wounding. And this is OK. As I have said, awareness is the first step to healing.

Healing mommy issues

Some people think that in order to heal from a mommy or daddy issue, you need to be single. I disagree with this, and believe it is perfectly possible to heal whilst in partnership. There is no better mirror than the face of your partner staring back at you. Although relationships can be very triggering for someone with a mommy issue, they are also the perfect environment to highlight the areas in which you need to evolve. If you believe that a mommy issue is causing havoc in your relationship, you must be open about it.

It will help them a great deal if they understand where some of your more negative patterning is coming from. Open communication is everything to a relationship. Without it, there is no relationship trust. And without trust, there is no foundation for a relationship at all.

Mommy issues in women can cause huge problems for both people in a relationship. But once you identify the problem and it’s roots, you can move through it together. The subconscious can always be reprogrammed. You can move towards a healthier, more secure attachment style – TOGETHER.

couple in love standing in the sunlight

Unfortunately, some men are just not equipped with the tools to help you heal whilst in partnership. Men are naturally less emotionally-wired than women, and this can pose a challenge when you’re trying to overcome a mommy issue. If this is the case for you, then you might suggest he checks out my free training for men in relationships. It contains a wealth of ideas, techniques and information taken directly from my highly successful coaching program for men. It will help him to level up and become the supportive, solid, loving presence you need in order to heal in a safe environment. I have helped many struggling couples climb up from rock bottom and create an unshakeable relationship container. Having the right environment is so crucial to your healing. Help him create it for you by sending him this training.


What do mommy issues look like in women?

There is no one way that mommy issues in women look. A woman with a mommy issue may be distant and withdrawn. She may be highly critical of herself and overly dependent on others. People pleasing is another tendency, as is a disorganized attachment style.

What is it like to be a girl with mommy issues?

Whether you have daddy issues or mommy issues, any strained parent-child relationship is deeply painful. A girl with mommy issues may reach adulthood with a low sense of identity and poor self-esteem. This can impact a romantic relationship and also extend into the workplace and friendships.

How do you deal with mommy issues when you're a woman?

The first step to dealing with mommy issues as a woman is identifying what they are. Highlight the problem areas in your life. Then work out which ones are coming from conditioning related to childhood patterning.

What are the mommy issues symptoms?

Symptoms of mommy issues are including but not limited to: anxious attachment style, avoidant attachment style, disorganized attachment style, low sense of self, poor confidence, frequent anger outbursts, people-pleasing.

How do mommy issues affect a girl's life?

A girl with mommy issues may reach adulthood with some very unhealthy relationship patterning. She may grow up with poor self-esteem. Because of this, she can make questionable decisions when it comes to romantic partners.

How do relationships shape when a woman has mommy issues?

Relationships are greatly affected when a woman has mommy issues. Depending on the woman, she may be very submissive and subjugate her own needs for those of her partner. Or she may do the opposite, and require a mother figure in her partner.

How do I heal from a mommy issue?

Sometimes, the relationship with the mother cannot be healed. If you accept this, the responsibility then lies with you to correct unhealthy patterning.

Is it OK to dislike your mother but love her at the same time?

Yes. It is OK and actually very common to dislike your mother but love her at the same time. Parents are imperfect. And often they hand down their unhealthy beliefs to their kids. Many people have a strained relationship with their mother. It is possible to not enjoy their company but at the same time, love and care for them a great deal.
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Steffo Shambo

Steffo Shambo

Men's Tantric Relationship Coach

I am the founder of The Tantric Man Experience™, a pioneering transformational coaching program for men. With over 1500 hours of certified tantra training in India and Thailand and 7 years of experience helping hundreds of men worldwide save their marriages and reignite passion in their love lives.

I have over 8 million views on YouTube and have been featured on VICE and Newstalk Radio for my life’s work - helping men unleash their full masculine potential.

My holistic FLT method seamlessly integrates ancient tantric philosophy with my modern expertise in relationships, sexuality, dating, and men’s health.

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