Grieving The Father You Never Had

Marlena Bontas
4 min readSep 14, 2022

It’s hard to let go of the idea that your father did the best he could, but he actually did more than just a little harm to you

Photo by Paweł L on Pexels

Daughters of narcissistic fathers grow up joyless and unfulfilled. They will think that all men are like their fathers: morose, neglectful, selfish and emotionally cut off from the world. As a result, they tend to be more comfortable dating men who neglect them and are cut off from them by either being abusive, alcoholic, cheaters or not interested in the growth of the relationship.

It is often that if you have a narcissistic father, your partner or husband is a narcissist, too. You know that people, in general, tend to repeat patterns and stay in their comfort zone. For daughters of narcissistic fathers, their comfort zone lies in abusive or unfulfilled romantic relationships.

My father is a covert, neglectful narcissist. He has never yelled at me or used physical violence to make himself heard. He didn’t even punish me as a child (that was my narcissistic mother’s ‘duty’ and he didn’t dare to burgeon on her territory).

However, he used subtle criticism and manipulations to communicate with me. He also expected me to give him all the emotional goods involved in a father-daughter relationship without him having to give something back. It was convenient for him to receive and take everything he could take from his only daughter.

Unfortunately, one-sided relationships can easily deteriorate. As a result, I cut ties with him a few years ago. It is sad to admit that I didn’t miss him at all. He didn’t try to reach out to me during those four years. What’s worse is that I know that if I disappeared from the face of the earth, he wouldn’t bother to find me or ask about me.

Covert narcissistic fathers

Covert narcissistic fathers are harder to identify because their narcissism is not as obvious as the one in an overt narcissist or a psychopath.

They tend to hide beneath their victimhood persona (everyone is bad and selfish while he is good, smart and caring), their suffering (they tend to emphasize how much they’ve been wronged in life and that someone should owe them something) and charming, superficial self (they tend to make jokes, be the centre of the attention in a group setting because they’re loud and/or rebellious or show themselves as extremely knowledgeable and witty).

My father is all that and more. You can have interesting conversations with him and learn something new each time. I like that in him.

But covert narcissists are abusive, thus, if you get too close to them, they’ll eventually show them how little they think of you.

Grieving is important

If you, too have a covert narcissistic father who doesn’t seem to care about you or show interest in your life, I feel you. I know that as women, we want to feel important and special in the eyes of our fathers. Our fathers are the first male figures in our life, thus, we tend to hold them in high regard.

However, the majority of covert narcissistic types are unsafe to be around. My advice to you is to set boundaries and decide what type of contact you’d like to have with your father. Is it ‘low contact’ or ‘medium chill’?

This type of boundary consists in checking in with your father only once or twice per month. (or whatever feels comfortable to you) It can even be less often. You can meet them during Christmas, Easter or other major holidays.

Or, you can go ‘no contact’ if they are abusive and talking to them makes you feel emotionally and physically ill.

If you do go no contact with this parent, know that it’s important to recognize that a relationship with your father by this point is impossible.

Letting go of the idea of the father you always wanted to have will release you of the hope that things may get better if…(your father goes to therapy or you go to therapy or he gets sick and realizes how much you mean to him, etc)

Let yourself cry over the fact that you never really had a father figure to guide you in life. To maybe protect you from your other, more abusive parent. To pave the way to a healthy and strong worldview.

Your father will never be in your life exactly as you want him to be. He cannot love you and accepting that will set you free.

Do you have a narcissistic father? Leave a comment below so that other readers can learn from your story.

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Marlena Bontas

Content writer, tea drinker, English-Romanian girl living abroad. Writes about NPD, relationships, health, finances and business.