Many of us are constantly terrified our SO will leave us or cheat on us, even though he's been nothing but loving and attentive towards us. Ever wondered why that is? Do you find yourself indulging your friends' or partner's every whish, even though, deep down inside, you'd rather be doing something else? It could be the result of your childhood years, which can affect your emotional patterns as an adult to a greater extent than you might imagine. Read on and you'll see just how strong the link between childhood habits and your adult relationships can be.
1. Overbearing Parents Lead to Codependency in Adulthood…
When you're very little, it's obvious that your parents should be making your decisions for you (how you spend your time, what you wear, what you eat, etc.). But if this goes on after a certain age, and your folks never allow you or trust you to make your own choices, in adulthood, you will be more prone to choosing partners and friends that decide almost everything for you as well. You might think it's nice to always let your SO decide what you'll be doing on date night or where you'll spend your vacation. However, this means you're overly dependent on your partner and, in the long run, it only leads to low self-esteem and resentment.
2. … or to Stubbornness
You may be surprised to find out that growing up in an overly-controlling family can lead to the opposite as well. Many children develop stubbornness as a defense mechanism against their overbearing parents. And, often times, this trait stays with them in adulthood as well, making relationships much harder than they should be.
3. What Happens if We've Been Neglected when Little?
Did your parents use to leave you alone frequently when you were little? Or maybe they were there physically, but emotionally unavailable, always too stressed by their own issues? When coming from a neglectful family, as adults, we may have the tendency to cling to our partners, afraid that they will leave us. The opposite can happen too: deep down inside, we "know" that the persons we need most in our life will abandon us or the relationships we cherish the most will end at some point – which makes us terrified of letting our guard down and letting others in.
4. Lack of Boundaries in Childhood Leads to Entitlement
Children whose parents couldn't say "no" to them and had weak personal boundaries, as adults, may develop a sense of entitlement and set unrealistic expectations when it comes to intimate relationships. When coming from such families, we tend to look for passive partners, who, similarly to our parents, find it difficult to say "no". If we grew up without boundaries, we may now feel that our partner has to do everything we want in order to prove his/her love to us, which can lead to very unhealthy relationships.
5. You Childhood Years Can Make You Feel Unworthy of Love
If you feel that you are somehow defective as a person and are not worthy of being loved, this shame-based thinking may come from dismissive or mean parents. Especially if you were introverted or more sensitive as a kid, a mean familial relationship would ruin your self-esteem and haunt you even in your adult years. You might be afraid now to let others see you for who you are, because the "real you doesn't deserve love". However, slowly but steadily, you need to change this mindset and let people in (at your own pace). Everybody has something wonderful about them – and so do you, and you have to allow yourself to be loved.
6. If Our Parents Were Unhappily Married…
… and they always bickered and were sarcastic or passive aggressive with each other, never saying a warm, loving word, we might now see arguing as a completely natural part of a relationship. I'm not talking about the occasional disagreements everybody has once in a while – I mean constant tension. What's more, we might find it very difficult to become vulnerable in front of our SO or we might even feel it's awkward to give them a simple, genuine compliment.
7. If Your Parents' Marriage Was Seemingly Happy, You May Have Trouble Connecting
Your parents never argued. They were almost always cheerful and engaged in activities that made them happy – separately. They were so involved in their own lives that they didn’t even realize they were not all that close to each other. If this is the type of family you grew up in, your relationships as an adult might become more of a partnership rather than a deep connection – just like your parents'. You may help each other and feel comfortable and safe – safe to work on your own separate lives. But you may not have that wonderful feeling of being in sync or deeply in love.
These were only a few of the many ways your childhood can affect your relationships and emotional patterns as an adult. Do you see yourself or your partner in any of the above?