People’s relationships with their parents and the way they’ve been raised have long been associated with the way people develop romantic relationships. Though we start to form intimate relationships when we’re older, our concept of intimacy starts to develop when we’re children.
The type of attachment people have with their parents often suggest, according to research on patterns of attachment and the quality of attachments they have in romantic relationships as adults.
If we look into some of the research done on the topic, we can find several examples of how the relationship we have with our parents can influence the quality of our romantic relationships. Different parenting styles have different effects on how we approach intimacy.
So does your relationship with your mother affect your romantic relationships?
Sometimes, it does. For instance, authoritative parenting, which consists of a balance between being warm and demanding, often leads to children who go on to have healthy romantic relationships. That’s because their relationship with mom and dad was based mainly on trust and closeness. So similarly they will have standards and expectations from their partners but will still know how to be loving and caring.
Research has suggested that parent-child attachment styles directly affect the kind of romantic relationships children go on to have when they’re older. In other words, parents have a huge influence on the kind of relationships we create later on as adults.
So, to answer the question in the title of this article: yes, the bond we have with our mothers and fathers can affect our romantic life. This doesn’t mean that it will always be the case. Today, we will explore how parents and the way they raised us can influence our love life. We will also discuss what you can do to improve the way you approach relationships as an adult and regardless of the type of relationship you had or didn’t have with your mother.
1. Parenting styles and their influence:
Parenting styles refer to the behaviors and attitudes parents have in their interactions with their children. In other words, parenting styles create the emotional foundation of the parent/child relationship.
According to Diana Baumrind and her study on parenting styles, there seem to be three main parenting styles: authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive parenting. Parenting styles are defined by two main factors, the degree of warmth and support, and the degree of control and demandingness.
Research suggests that authoritative parents strike the best balance between being warm and demanding. Authoritarian parents lean way too much to be controlling, without necessarily balancing that by being more caring and warm. While permissive parents lean way too much on being loving and warm, without being too demanding or controlling.
That means that authoritative parenting leads to a secure and healthy attachment between parents and children. That’s because these types of parents set limits and value discipline while still being emotionally present and supportive. They also allow children to be autonomous while still monitoring them.
Research has shown that relationships between children and their parents are a model for all other intimate relationships those children grow up to have. That’s why our bond with our mothers and fathers can influence our romantic relationships even if we’re not aware of it.
The kind of relationship we have with our parents helps us develop the prototypes we use for friendships and romantic relationships. The prototypes are based on the patterns we have learned from our relationship with our parents while growing up.
In short, the parent/child relationship provides us with a model or mold that we built all our other relationships based on. They teach us how to have relationships with others through what we are familiar with and experienced firsthand with our parents or guardians.
For example, if we have insecure relationships with our parents, our attachment style in relationships will likely be anxious or inconsistent, making romantic relationships very difficult or prone to turning toxic.
2. What you can do to break the pattern:
If your bond with mom or dad is not a healthy one and their parenting style has unconsciously taught you certain patterns that don’t serve you in romantic relationships, you can do something about it. You can create new patterns!
It will take some work and a lot of introspection, and sometimes a little professional help from counselors or therapists, but you can do it. The first thing you need to do is try to identify the patterns you want to ditch. Look at your current relationship or your past relationships and dissect them so you can identify the things that have been getting in the way.
For instance, do you tend to allow disrespect and tolerate being mistreated? Do you have no boundaries or fail to communicate them to your partner? Do you have anger issues that prevent you from speaking your mind without becoming violent? etc.
Additionally, you should consider journaling. Journaling is a great way to improve your self-awareness and explore the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors you often have in relationships. This habit also makes it easier for you to compare your romantic relationships to the kind of bond you have had with your own mom or dad.
Soon, you will have a clearer idea of what’s been holding you back. As you become aware of your shortcomings, it’s important to work on improving your love life by learning the skills you’re missing. Whether that’s communication, conflict resolution, openness, etc.
If you need some help, looking for a counselor or therapist is never a bad idea! Ditching old patterns and creating new ones is not easy, but it’s worth the effort if you want your romantic relationships to flourish healthily. Also, if you have had a toxic mother or a bad relationship with your father then it is never too late to try and build a bridge or reconnect and forgive.