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20 Clues of Lingering Issues with Our Moms Affecting Mental Health

Are you struggling to maintain healthy relationships? Or do you feel certain aspects of your life and relationships seem to be a constant puzzle? If yes, then you may have unresolved issues from your past that you haven’t processed yet. In particular, you may be dealing with lingering “mommy issues.”

The relationship with your mom is the very first and most important in your life. It shapes your early experiences and impacts how you see the world. Your mother is (typically) your primary caregiver during early childhood. Although a mother-child relationship mostly means unconditional love and support, sometimes it can also lead to pain and trauma.

Subtle or not-so-subtle ways your mom dealt with you can affect your interaction with others. The good news is that your attachment style isn’t fixed forever; with effort, you can move from insecure attachment issues to more secure and healthy relationships. In this article, we’ll unwrap 21 signs of mommy issues and how to fix them.

What Are “Mommy Issues”?

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The term “mommy issues” refers to insecure attachment styles that people develop due to the actions of their mother or maternal caregivers during childhood.

Interestingly, you can still have mommy issues if you share an unhealthy relationship with another mother figure in your life, like a grandma or an aunt, etc. Additionally, mommy and daddy issues affect both men and women, but the signs may present differently based on gender.

According to a 2020 study, the father-child relationship tends to influence an individual’s behavioral coping style, while the same study revealed that a person’s relationship with their mother has a lasting effect on their emotional well-being.

Here are some common signs you might have mommy issues.

1. You Criticize Others

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As kids, we’re like sponges, absorbing everything our parents do. If your mom was always highly critical, there’s a good chance you picked up on these traits and now have mommy issues. 

Now, you’re overly critical, even of yourself. Minor flaws or mistakes might feel like big disasters, and imperfections are a big no-no in your book. You might even get angry when something or someone isn’t perfect.

2. Anxious Attachment

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One of the common signs that you may have mommy issues is anxious attachment, which develops when a child learns that their mother may not consistently respond to their needs.

In romantic relationships, this anxious attachment style often causes persistent worries about partner abandonment. It is also associated with a negative self-image and a continual search for signs of partner withdrawal.

3. You are Judgemental

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You might judge everyone and form opinions about them without knowing them or giving them a fair chance.

If your relationship with your mother was characterized by criticism, unrealistic expectations, or an absence of understanding, you may have developed a defensive mechanism of pre-judging others.

This could be a way to protect yourself from potential disappointment, rejection, or criticism, mirroring the dynamics of your past relationship with your mother.

4. Constant Clinginess and Neediness

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This clinginess and neediness often stem from an unhealthy or insecure attachment to your mom during childhood. When your mom doesn’t provide emotional support, you seek it through others, like your romantic partner, friends, or colleagues. 

While it’s normal for everyone to have times when they need support, if you catch yourself overly clingy, especially with people you shouldn’t be, it could indicate mommy issues.

5. You Have Difficulty Expressing Affection

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Difficulty expressing affection can be linked to an avoidant attachment style, often developing when a child learns to self-soothe due to inconsistent parenting or caregiving. Individuals with this attachment style struggle with emotional intimacy and expressing affection with romantic partners.

If you were never taught how to be affectionate, swing between being overly affectionate with friends, family, and colleagues, or make an emotional connection, it’s a surefire sign you have mommy issues.

6. Disorganized Attachment

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This attachment style means that as a baby, you may have faced situations where your caregivers or mom were a constant source of fear. The caregivers might have been emotionally unavailable to you, leading you to display behaviors that show confusion, conflict, or fear.

Those with this attachment style may exhibit outward behaviors like anger and hostility in adulthood.

7. You are Too Dependent on Others

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You are overly dependent on others to fulfill your emotional needs or care for practical matters like paying bills and making appointments.

This habit develops when your mother does everything for you, making you dependent entirely on her and never allowing you to learn self-sufficiency and independence. 

8. You Struggle with Meaningful Connections

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Another sign of mommy issues is establishing deep and meaningful connections. Mothers often serve as role models for relationship dynamics, and if you lack examples of positive connections, it can impact your ability to navigate and understand relationships.

In a romantic relationship, this difficulty may manifest as challenges in forming solid connections. Understanding the difficulties of healthy communication, emotional intimacy, and mutual respect may be more challenging because you didn’t have a firsthand example.

It can lead to uncertainty about acting during conflicts, expressing vulnerability, or maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner.

9. Difficulty in Being Open and Vulnerable

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If you didn’t bond with your mom as a child, you might now hesitate to be open and vulnerable, which can make it hard for others to get close to you.

Whether you’re trying to connect with friends or family, you might shut down when the conversation becomes heated or isn’t going your way.

10. Overcaring for Others

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You find yourself in the role of the family caretaker, doing everything for your loved ones because it’s what you’ve learned from your mom or your mom never did for you. Your mommy issues can lead to taking care of others too much.

You believe love is to protect and overcare your family to the extent of self-sacrificing and ignoring your own needs because that’s how your mother does it.

On the other hand, you may be over-caring because your mom was absent when you needed her care, doing the exact opposite of what your mom did. 

11. Seeking Love in the Wrong Places

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It could be because your mother had a troubling relationship with your father or had been too preoccupied with her connections to focus on you during your childhood. Either way, you might have mistaken the wrong people for the love that you crave.

Your mommy issues may lead to poor decisions in picking friends and partners, dealing with co-workers, and beyond.

12. A Strained Adult Maternal Relationship

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Try to think back about your childhood and adult life. Was your relationship with your mom complex, or are you just focusing on the negative side? Would you say at least 85% of your relationship with your mom was strained, complicated, and challenging?

If yes, every time you reflect, the same problems likely resurface, and despite your efforts to talk to your mom and resolve issues, they remain unresolved. It’s a frustrating cycle!

13. Being a People-Pleaser

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Going to extremes to please others who can’t benefit you is a sign of mommy issues. You might have learned these people-pleasing tendencies from your mother, who gets through her life by pleasing others. Or you might seek affection, acceptance, love, and kindness from everyone because your mom never showed you these feelings. 

While you believe that making others happy makes you happy, you could be filling an emotional void or perpetuating learned behavior that’s not healthy.

14. Being Insecure

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An insecure attachment style can be a clear sign of mommy issues in women, mainly if your mother was excessively critical of you, leaving you feeling that nothing you did was ever good enough.

You don’t believe that you can make anyone, including yourself, happy because your mom was never satisfied with you.

Trying to meet your mom’s unreasonably high standards can feel like an endless war when you are already struggling with insecurity and low self-esteem about how you look and what you do.

15. Trying to Control Others

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Growing up with a controlling mom may make you believe that this behavior is acceptable. That’s why you also try to control people around you. Controlling behavior can often signal the presence of mommy issues. 

You develop expectations from people of how they should behave. When they deviate from these expectations, you get angry and upset. You aren’t flexible; everything should be “your way or the highway.” 

16. No or Few Female Friends

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When you have a complicated relationship with your mother, it also affects your ability to have good relationships with other females.

The female friends you do have may remain more casual or distant because your expectations of how women would treat you are shaped by your mother’s actions. That can make it challenging for these friendships to flourish.  

17. Having Trust Issues

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A mother’s love is considered to be unconditional for her children. However, the absence of love from your mother can give rise to trust issues.

These trust issues can adversely affect all your other adult relationships because it’s hard to survive without trust, making a breakup or falling out more likely.

18. Difficulty Setting Boundaries

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If you have mommy issues, you may also encounter difficulties in establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries within your relationships.

It is because your mother failed to respect your boundaries in childhood, and now you lack the understanding of healthy boundaries. It causes you to be overly accommodating, allowing others to take advantage and fearing confrontation or rejection when setting boundaries. You may also not respect other people’s boundaries either.

19. Repeating Patterns of Unhealthy Relationships

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Imagine you’re picking friends or romantic partners, and you notice that they’re a lot like how your mom treated you when you were a kid. If your mom was overly critical, too controlling, or not very supportive, you might be attracted to people who act the same way.

It’s like your brain is used to that kind of relationship, so you unintentionally end up with similar dynamics in your adult relationships.

This pattern can keep repeating unless you recognize it and work on breaking it, maybe with the help of a therapist or by being more aware of the kind of people you’re drawn to.

Tips to Overcome Mommy Issues

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Addressing mommy issues starts with recognizing their existence and reflecting on your childhood relationship with your mother. Acknowledge and embrace your emotions, including anger, disappointment, sadness, or happiness.

Seek support from trusted friends, family, or mental health professionals to break the cycle and facilitate healing. Establishing healthy boundaries with your mother is crucial. Identify and actively work to change behavioral patterns associated with mommy issues, practicing self-care and positive thinking for personal growth.

Positive affirmations can also help build self-love and confidence, countering negative self-talk for improved self-esteem and a healthier self-perception. Stepping away from toxic relationships, prioritizing well-being, and engaging in daily self-care contribute to overcoming mommy issues.

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