Have you ever considered that some of what you struggle with in your dating life may stem from your overall childhood experience? You crave for love and strong bonds but you can’t seem to connect with people enough to make them stay. You know within yourself that you are in love with this special individual but whenever you’re together, you act in ways that push them away instead of bringing them closer to you.
What is really the problem here? Why do you act the way you do? Have you ever asked yourself these questions? On the surface, it may seem like the other person is at fault or that your personalities or stars just don’t align. But the moment you take some time to see the issues you struggle with through the lens of your childhood, you’d probably come to understand yourself better.
Here are 5 ways your childhood may be affecting your dating life:
Every relationship needs trust to thrive. If you find it difficult to trust, it is probably because you had your trust broken at that tender developmental age. To protect yourself from the criticisms, abuse, or neglect of your parents, you may have recoiled into a shell and held back from expressing exactly how you feel. And that coping habit you developed stuck and followed you into your adulthood—psychologist Dr. John Bowlby called it the attachment theory.
Don’t be scared to acknowledge this fact. Your parents loved and raised you the best way they knew and you shouldn’t love them any less. You only have to work on rebranding yourself.
Intimacy can be sexual, emotional and mental—it is all about allowing someone to see the part of you that you tend to hide from every other person. Trust breeds intimacy, it’s hard to be vulnerable with someone you don’t trust. And problem arises in a relationship when either of the partners feels that their vulnerability is not reciprocated.
Journey down memory lane, down to the streets of your childhood and you may discover why you struggle with intimacy. If your parents or caretakers in any way made you feel unsafe or uncomfortable about opening up, you may lack confidence in being your authentic self. Maybe they dismissed or misunderstood you a lot and out of fear of being perceived as weak, you developed a coping mechanism that keeps coming to play in your adult relationships.
What to do? Whenever you feel like dismissing your partner’s intimate efforts, stop and ask yourself why you don’t feel like opening up at that exact moment. Allow yourself to be present.
If you received a lot of kudos as a kid, you may find yourself always seeking reassurance from your partner and if the reverse is the case for you, you are probably always defending yourself. Every child deserves the space to feel confident in their mistakes, flaws and achievements. You develop low self-esteem or insecurity when almost everything you did was either unseen or seen and negatively criticized.
To reduce the impact of that in your relationship, recognize your triggers and start practicing internal reassurance. Of course, you can voice out your fears to your partner.
You can’t handle your partner moving away, leaving you or shutting down for a while. You start to panic once your partner stops talking to you after a fight. A strong fear that they will leave you and never return immediately overtakes you and you find yourself reaching out to solve the issue immediately. Not allowing your partner space he/she needs to process the whole fiasco—bad for both of you.
Your clingy behavior is probably rooted in the sense of abandonment you experienced as a child. If your parents or caretakers weren’t there for you most of the time you needed them, it may have led to you developing an irrational fear of people abandoning you.
In this case, it’s best to directly ask your partner if they are leaving you and when they reassure you that they aren’t, try to stay calm and give yourself time to fix the issue.
Are you always shutting down or asking your partner to give you space? It is probably because you are sensitive to conflict. Subconsciously, you try to protect yourself from perceived threats, attack, rejection or criticism. And that might be because conflict was a major part of your childhood and no one taught you how to effectively handle conflict.
While shutting down can be a good thing sometimes, it can also lead to misunderstandings. Let your partner know about your childhood and make him/her understand that you do care about them but need some time to work things out.
In conclusion, knowing how a problem came about in the first place is essential to eliminating it and hence, could improve your dating life.