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What is a Daddy's Girl?

By J.Gunsch
Updated May 23, 2024
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The term “daddy’s girl” can be interpreted in three distinct ways. The first is that a father (dad, papa) and daughter enjoy a secure, tight bond. The second is that a dad provides everything for his female child, especially when it comes to finances and material items. Third, the phrase can mean that a woman is sexually involved with someone. All three interpretations have some problems and benefits.

Close Father-Daughter Relationship

In the most general sense, the term “daddy’s girl” usually means that a girl is extremely close to her papa. In this context, the girl prefers her dad’s company over everyone else’s. She tries both to mimic and to please him. The closeness in the relationship, coupled with the daughter’s desire to please, implies that the father has a large amount of psychological control over his female child and that he has an unspoken ownership of her. The dad usually does not intend to gain this control or for the ownership to develop. In many cases, he might not even perceive that it is central to the relationship, as he typically is extremely kind to and protective of his daughter.

Reliant Daughter

Some people interpret “daddy’s girl” to mean a young female who relies on her father for everything. Some of this comes from the general meaning of the phrase, as the dads of these girls can go overboard in providing for their daughters in an effort to shelter them. The connotation here is negative, because even though it shows that the papa provides, it demonstrates that the girl isn’t independent and can’t take care of herself. It also has the connotation that she is privileged or entitled, incapable of relating to or feeling empathy for those who have less.

Term of Endearment or Lover

A more urban way to look at “daddy’s girl” is that it is a pet name or term of endearment. People sometimes use the phrase for a woman who has a sexual connection with someone. A man might say to his lover, “You know I love you, you’re daddy’s girl,” for example. This once again harkens back to the general interpretation of the phrase, the implications being that the man will protect and care for his partner, and that the relationship is tight.

This version relates strongly to the Electra complex, which is a concept in psychology. The idea behind the Electra complex is that, subconsciously, a girl is attracted sexually to her dad. This attraction generates hostility toward the mother, or more generally, to anyone that might provide sexual competition. This concept, the female counterpart to the Oedipus complex, has its roots in the ancient Athenian tragedy by Sophocles, Oedipus Rex, in which the primary character, Oedipus, unwittingly kills his father and marries his mother.


When a girl and her dad are overly close, codependence can develop, meaning that both people in the relationship essentially cannot function without the other. This can affect the girl or father’s sense of self. The codependence also can create problems in other relationships. A dad might have issues with any man who tries to date his daughter, for instance, because he might feel like no one is good enough for her or can provide as he can. Similarly, when a female child reaches adulthood, she might not assert herself, especially among men, because she is used to being subversive to her papa.

Another issue that sometimes comes up is that, as an adult, a daddy’s girl who has been given everything might become extremely spoiled and have trouble coping during times of hardship. She might not understand the meaning of earning one’s keep, and she might acquire debt from spending beyond her own means. If her papa “cuts her off” her financially, she might take it extremely personally, seeing his choice as evidence he no longer cares about her, even if he is trying to guide her toward self-sufficiency.

Some individuals who support the notion of the Electra complex and the more urban translation of “daddy’s girl” believe that the phrase promotes an unhealthy acceptance of incest, leading to sexual fantasies or behaviors that society might not view positively. Others feel the term promotes the submission of women, reducing them to sexual playthings. The concept of a woman being owned by anyone, father or not, is highly offensive to many people.


A major benefit of a father doting on his female child is that she never has to doubt that someone cares about her. This can make her more confident overall. She might take an example from how her papa has treated her, demanding that any boyfriend she has gives her the kindness she honestly deserves.

Sometimes a girl who has everything provided by her papa acquires a very fine sense of taste. She comes to appreciate items of high quality and good craftsmanship. This is easily applied to careers such as interior design or appraisal. These types of girls also might have a sincere desire for others to have items that are nice. Rather than looking down on others, they might work for charities or other organizations that promote more equality in society.

Advocates of using “daddy’s girl” with sexual connotations point out that everyone has different sexual preferences. They assert that the phrase expresses love and that, even in a dominant-submissive or master-slave relationship, the submissive partner trusts that her partner will not hurt her. It is that trust that promotes sexual arousal and release. To prohibit the use of the phrase therefore is to deny sexual gratification and closeness to some degree.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Discussion Comments
By anon338530 — On Jun 14, 2013

I'm daddy's little girl. He taught me how to swim, ride a bike -- everything. He was always there for me when I needed him the most and was caring. We also never got into a fight but that was until I turned 11 then 12 and now 13. He is super protective and he wouldn't even let me wear bras until I was 11! He won't let me have a boyfriend and I have a Facebook page so now, no guy friends unless they are family.

I would rather have a non over protective dad because then I would actually be able to roller blade up and down the street. Now I can only rollerblade three houses down and back.

By anon334275 — On May 11, 2013

My daughter is soon to be 13 and she still calls me daddy and I still call her my little princess! We are both comfortable with this so I don't see a problem with it. (Eng-UK)

By anon328574 — On Apr 04, 2013

@Anon 91396: I fell for a man five months ago. He has been divorced twice and now lives alone. He has two daughters in their mid 30's, too. He openly told me that he would take his youngest out if she wasn't his daughter, that she has perfect body parts and is a real two-piece type gal. The other daughter, short and squat, is his "right hand" i.e., she has a say in every aspect of his life. Both daughters take turns in managing his "money", which is considerable.

"Squat" tells him "how to" most everything. He met me and somehow I allowed myself to fall in love with him. He has many good qualities, but all time spent with him, does not exceed the time he spends with "Squat" on the phone each day. What is this?

Time and time again, we break off our relationship, generally, because he must get back home (100 miles south of me) to be with her. Yes, she has a small son, his grandson. I have never denied him any time with his kids or grandson, but, he is controlled by "Squat" and she rules 99 percent of his time.

Yes, daughters can sabotage their "papa's" lives and yes, we who have fallen in love with them have no hold on them. Should we walk immediately, when we realize the extent of the daughter's control? Yes! I wish I had done just that.

He left me last evening, I am now sad and will take a long while to heal. I am too old for this type stress at 68; he is 64. There is no future with this type father/daughter relationship. Let it go!

By anon319430 — On Feb 13, 2013

When a grown person refers to their father as daddy, it sounds weird and sick. I adore my father and I never call him daddy. (Strange)

By anon289105 — On Sep 02, 2012

How is calling your dad "Daddy" and being over 15 or something be weird? If it was her boyfriend then yeah that's some weird stuff.

By anon260865 — On Apr 12, 2012

What's wrong with calling your dad, 'daddy'? I'm a guy and I find that kind of cute. That being said, my fiancee is a daddy's girl. She's the latter one, very tomboyish and can do basically everything a guy can do. I find her strength very appealing and find how she is flustered with make-up and high heels really cute. But that's just me.

By anon249924 — On Feb 23, 2012

I was not a daddy's girl ever. My father died when my mom was pregnant with me. That being said, I love my dad, but my stepfather and I were never close. My uncle, however, was always very supportive and always there when I needed anything or just an ear.

I do agree with anon though: any woman past her teen years calling her dad "daddy" sounds kind of creepy to me. It's like nails on a chalkboard. That would be like a grown man calling his mother "mommy". Just too creepy for words. Just my opinion, but when I hear a grown woman calling her father daddy, it kind of displays their inability to accept reality, let their childhood go and grow up.

By anon240435 — On Jan 14, 2012

@anon209590: there is nothing wrong with calling your father "daddy". I still do it and clash all the time.

By commentary1 — On Nov 30, 2011

I composed a song for my daughter. It's titled, "In The Morning When God Smiles."

By anon209590 — On Aug 27, 2011

I can't stand any girl older than about four calling her dad "Daddy." My god. Get a grip of your lives!

By anon200128 — On Jul 26, 2011

My dad was never there for me and would rather party and get drunk then be with his kids but I love him so much and it seems like all he has to do is say he's sorry and I forgive everything. I don't understand why I love him so much when he doesn't even call or come see me I only see him maybe every two months. But my stepdad told me I'm a daddy's girl. I would love to be my daddy's little girl but how can I be a daddy's girl when my dad's never there?

By anon188051 — On Jun 20, 2011

My dad left me in NZ with my aunty and uncle when I was five, after my mum died of cancer. My mother was kiwi and he is french, so i hold dual citizenship with both france and nz because I was born in montpellier.

He never calls me or anything. He just sends money now and then to my uncle's bank account. I have forgotten how to speak french and my aunty and uncle tell me that he's not too good with english. All I know is that he works as a pediatric nurse, and his name is Francois-xavier. It makes me so upset and I'm only 12 to know that my dad didn't want me, even want me in the same country as him. Adelaide F.

By anon178648 — On May 21, 2011

my parents have not been married but split up and i don't remember anything about my dad because they split up when i was a baby i think. but i never see him. i probably only do once every two years and there is nothing i would want more than for him to be there for me, and for him to come and see me, He has never once in my whole life come to visit me and you don't know how it is to be 13 and never see your dad.

He's someone who your supposed to look up to who you know is there for you and always will be, but for me, i can't. I have no faith in my dad and hardly want to call him dad, but at the same time want to be his daddy's little girl and i want him to be in my life as much as i want to be in mine but i don't know how i can talk to him. I would like to more than anything, and if i can i won't turn it down. any advice? -daddy's little girl ~want to be~

By anon178496 — On May 21, 2011

I agree with amypollick.

anon87350, your experiences with your dad sounds similar to mine. Treasure those moments. I lost my father three months ago and I would give an arm and leg and everything I possess just to have my super doting father even for just a day with me. I was 23, now 24 and my father unexpectedly left too soon.

By anon150960 — On Feb 09, 2011

I don't think I was or will ever be a daddy's girl.

Did teach me how to ride a bike? Yes. Did he teach me how to swim? Yes Did he show me love? Maybe now that I'm over 18 years old and I'm going away to study he says he cares about me. Until I was 13 the love that he showed me and my brother was by the force of a belt.

Do I love him? Yes, without a doubt.

Do I forgive him for all the pain he caused my brother, my mom and me? There really is no such thing as 'forgive and forget'. Forgive, yes. Forget, not so easy.

By anon150419 — On Feb 07, 2011

Dear anon91396: Please listen to your instinct and respect your feelings. This is not a man you're dating; this is a man you are about to marry. Please read your own writings and hear what they are telling you: you're not ready to marry this man -- unless you can gather more proofs that his relationships with his daughters aren't improper or even boundary-violating your relationship with him. Please take care!

By anon124317 — On Nov 05, 2010

My father loved me but I was never a "Daddy's girl". I am now married to a man who can not see any faults in his own grown daughter, although he definitely finds them in mine because, God forbid, they're not "perfect" like his precious daughter.

I noted that someone wrote above that she was about to marry someone whose daughters call themselves Daddy's girls. My advice: run, run, run as far as you can away from this man. Know that those girls will always come between you and your husband. He will never see that they have any faults and I can assure you that Daddy's girls know exactly what they are doing when they put wedges between you and your man.

It is a fallacy to believe that the way a man treats his daughter is the way he will treat you. If anything, he will need someone to project fault onto and guess who that's going to be? It will either be you or, if you have daughters of your own, it will be them.

I had a wonderful father who doted on me and was always kind, but that kind of normal father is not the same as the man who cannot let his 40+ year old daughter grow up or acknowledge that she might have any faults. My dad knew I had faults but he loved me anyway.

By anon115961 — On Oct 05, 2010

Daddy's little girl may mean anything, but if you're given a choice between an abusive father and father who coddles you and treat you as if you're his little princess, then it's not that difficult a choice.

In fact, women learns how men treat them from their dads. If you have a good father in your life, be grateful and remember that there are girls with bad fathers who would give their arms and legs up just so their father can love them even if just a day. I know, because I'm one of the fortunate daughters, and whenever I look at my father every day I feel blessed and loved. Thus, I always associate Daddy's little girl phrase with goodness.

And now whenever I read or hear stories about a father's love for his daughter, I always feel touched. Indeed, one of the strongest and purest bond in this world is between parent and child. And father-daughter bond is among the best of it.

Besides, if more fathers treat their daughters good then the better the world becomes! Love your family, everyone.

By anon106025 — On Aug 23, 2010

How about my story? My divorced dad died when I was 14 and his enjoyment was a drink at the bar. What did I do? Walk around the joint outside wondering when he'd had enough. Did he ever take me to a ball game? No. Did he ever take me to the park? No. Did he teach me how to swim or ride a bike? No. Did he offer me a beer when I was young? Yes.

My mother was a secretary who left college and never re-married. I was born when she was 42. So, I have nothing in common with a daddy's girl or a daddy's boy. I struggled to earn a bachelor's degree and I'm still struggling to find a career -- and a woman.

By anon99957 — On Jul 28, 2010

My husband's ex-wife called me to let me know that their daughter "Rachel- (23 years old)" will always be daddy's little girl. I didn't understand the meaning until today. Now that I had read more about it and saw Rachel's behavior over the past few years, I believe she has the Electra complex. Also, I had saw how my husband thought that she can never do anything wrong and she is as innocent as the day is long.

He got hurt for all the problems she caused while she was a teenager, and now she keeps hurting him by destroying his marriage (twice- she is a real marriage wrecker.)

By anon91396 — On Jun 21, 2010

I am about to marry a man who has two daughters, and one admits to being a Daddy's Girl. I have never seen anything like it. Both girls are in their 30's and have children of their own. The youngest actually seems to flirt with daddy. She is always rubbing his back or arms or legs and he hers.

I am not concerned that anything improper is happening, but I have never seen this kind of behavior between a father and his daughters, and it does concern me. I am not sure where I actually fit in. Am I making a mistake marrying this man?

By amypollick — On May 30, 2010

@Anon87350: Be grateful. Be thankful. You have a truly wonderful Daddy. Treasure every day, every phone call, every letter, every care package. Take my word for it: they will be more precious than anything someday.

By anon87350 — On May 29, 2010

Yep, I'm a Daddy's girl. Dad was really strict with me and my sister behaviorally until we were both teenagers (but he still doted on us!). Then it went from, "Forgot your homework? Oh, sorry, guess you'll have to turn it in tomorrow," to him literally crying at the thought of us leaving.

Now that we're both in college, he's awful. First to send the care packages to us during finals; insisting (despite Mom's eye rolls) that we just have to have our stuff that we left at home tomorrow, so he'll FedEx it.

He flies two thousand miles to visit my sister because he hasn't seen her in three months; telling me that the dog misses me because I haven't visited home in two weeks (I live an hour away). My mother has just given up. She rules the roost for the most part, but when it comes to spoiling his kids, he usually does what he wants. I don't know what he's going to do when we get married! He's not ultra-possessive of us, but it'll be rough for him!

By anon75976 — On Apr 08, 2010

I never thought I was a daddy's girl. I'm 11 years old and I've always wanted to be daddy's little baby. I always argue with him and annoy him. I think he might enjoy spending time with my brother more. Being his little girl is my dream, but I think it's too late. -Natalie J. T

By anon19831 — On Oct 20, 2008

I am 51 years old and am more and more thankful every day for the father that I had. Daddy passed away in 1995, and looking back on the sorrow of that loss, I know that I could not have made it through my mourning without the help of my husband. He was very supportive and understanding, and would just hold me and let me cry. It was an integral part of my healing.

The things that Daddy taught me, mainly through his example, are now invaluable to me as a teacher and as a parent. I truly believe that being a happily married woman now is largely due to the example that Daddy set for me of how and what a man is supposed to do and be for his family. One day my husband looked at me the same way Daddy used to look at my mother, and I knew.......

My daddy also taught me to love the Lord, and I become more and more thankful for that as I grow older. I saw my father lean on his relationship with Jesus Christ to see him through some very sad and difficult and trying experiences. Through his example, I now am able to handle life's disappointments and heartbreaks in a positive way that leave me a stronger person, and I know it's because of the example that my father set for me. Thanks for the opportunity to share my memories and thoughts.

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