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How does your childhood affect your love styles as an adult?

The love style of two adults affected by their childhood.

The childhood experience of people has a great level of influence in their adulthood. Does this apply to intimate relationships in the future as well? This article explains how one’s childhood affects their love styles as an adult.

Family is a primary socialization agent during childhood. This means that family is one of the ways through which children learn about society and what is appropriate and not appropriate. Family teaches children how to behave and how to behave. As a result, individuals are influenced and shaped by the experience they have with their parents, and the quality of the parent child relationship also exert a certain level of influence on future interactions with possible partners.

It has been found through scientific studies that parents which involve positive engaging conversation have a higher chance of the child getting into warm and loving intimate relationships in the future. On the other hand, children who were exposed to harsh and aggressive parenting, and were constantly at the receiving end of yelling, insults and physical punishments is associated with the child entering into harsh and aggressive romantic relationships during adulthood.

  • Anger management: is something that a person learns from their family. It also is of importance in romantic relationships. Supportive parenting helps the child in calming down and soothes them, helping them in understanding how to manage and express emotions in optimal ways. However, harsh and explosive parents create and trigger negative emotions in children and teach, directly or indirectly.

  • Attachment styles: Children who have loving and supporting parents will be able to create more secure attachments and have more trust in others. However, when it comes to children who had hostile parents, they develop distrust and are cynical of others in adulthood. They might consider their partners as untrustworthy and insensitive.

  • Individuals who went through a childhood where they were met with hostility tend to believe others are selfish and generally opportunistic. They assume that the others have an ulterior dark motive and thus tend to adopt an intimidating confrontational style of interacting with others.

  • Self control, a majority of an individual’s self control is learnt during childhood. Supportive parenting fosters self control. But, inconsistent and harsh parenting in childhood leads to failure in the child to develop adequate self control. In adulthood, conflicts in intimate relationships are inevitable. Thus, if the person does not have adequate self-control, the situation can escalate quickly.

Milan and Kay Yerkovich found that there are five common love styles in romantic relationships.

  1. The Pleaser: This category consists of people who grew up in families with distressed parents. They are the ‘good kids’ and always try to be on their best behavior. They were the children who used to comfort their parents instead of the other way around. They are anxious regarding making others upset, and tend to put the needs of others before their own.

  2. The Victim: These were the children who grew up in chaotic homes with angry and hostile parents. They tend to be very compliant and try to be as invisible as possible. With low self-esteem, these people feel uneasy even when it is calm since they expect something or the other to happen at any time. Due to their compliant nature, they are prone to get into relationships with controllers.

  3. The Controller: These are the people who grew up in homes where they were not given attention and did not have a sense of being protected. They realized that in order to survive, they need to get tough and be self-reliant. They need to be in control all the time and if they lose their sense of control, they feel vulnerable. They display anger to intimidate others. They have rigid patterns and tendencies and require things to be done in a certain manner. They may act in unpredictable manner and seek compliance from people.

  4. The Vacillator: These people were brought up by unpredictable parents. Given just enough attention to want more, these children realized that they were not their parents’ first priority. The inconsistency in their parents’ behavior has made them extremely sensitive to signs of rejection, and connection. They usually have a fear of abandonment. They tend to idealize new relationships and tend to experience internal conflict during relationships. Whatever the spouse does never feels like it is enough, and causes the spouse to be extra careful due to the vacillators’ mood shifts.

  5. The Avoider: They grew up in homes where affection and expression of feelings and needs were minimized, and independence and self-reliance was encouraged. As they did not receive much affection from their parents, these children restrict their feelings and avoid seeming needy. They tend to be uncomfortable with emotions and need their own space. The spouse of the avoiders may feel unwanted and left out in decision-making.

Other than the love styles, secure connectors are people who feel comfortable in giving as well as receiving love. They have the ability to recognize their strengths and weaknesses and are effective communicators of their feelings and needs. They have the healthiest relationships with high levels of stability.

Our childhood experiences impact our lives in ways that we don't understand. The way in which we were brought up, the type of relationship our parents had with each other etc. plays an important role in our romantic relationships. However, the level of influence they play can be reduced by seeking help and identifying the maladaptive patterns in our lives and behavior. Let us all aspire to be secure connectors and have the healthiest and most stable relationships.

Kaizen Wellbeing is an online therapy platform in Dubai, UAE that caters to South Asian community. There is a dearth of good therapy establishments that accommodate the mental health needs of the brown community. We aim to bridge that gap by providing you quality and affordable care by qualified and warm therapists. Reach out at or +971 50 961 8796 and book your first session towards understanding yourself and other’s better.

If you have any queries please put them down in the comments section and we will try our best to answer them and help you out.


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