6 Ways Your Childhood Could Be Impacting Your Relationships
We all have the need to feel safe, secure and useful.
Do you ever wonder why you do the things you do?
Do you ever wonder what is it that makes you who you are?
Do you ever wonder: Who am I really? What’s really going on for me?
When I refer to ‘Parents’, it is whatever caregivers you grew up with (everyone is different and has different parental influences), for ease I will refer to them as Parents.
Trust is the basis of any relationship. Perhaps you struggle trusting others as an adult. What happened as a child that impacts this trust? Maybe an experience or belief around being neglected, abandoned, criticised or abused? Often the skills our parents had also where imparted from their childhood experiences and passed on to you. So just imagine how your parents operated with the skills they had at the time. They didn’t know how this transferred to their children, they loved their children in their own way. But there was a lacking of unconditional love through learnt behaviour!
Unconditional love – insecurities = great relationships. Mistrusting others around us is a way we protect ourselves but there are better ways to be protected from those we love.
Some of you may really connect with one or two or more of these situations. Of course not everyone has such affects that carry on into their current relationships. But if you can relate to any of these and it can help you recognise places to make changes to support more rewarding relationships, then congratulations to you. It will be worth it!
What protection are you putting in place that isn’t serving your relationship?
Levels of intimacy and vulnerability are built on the foundation of trust. When growing up did you feel unsafe opening up and being yourself, did you feel misunderstood or dismissed?
Was nothing you did good enough for your parents? So then, how do you feel comfortable and confident in yourself now?
How then, if you are always protecting yourself, do you interact intimately with your partner?
Your partner may be craving connection with you, but you don’t even realise how often you may dismiss or deny the intimacy with them.
Noticing the opportunities your partner is putting out there to connect is a great start.
Considering why you are not willing to open up in that moment may open a door you didn’t even realise was locked.
DIFFERENT GOALS & EXPECTATIONS
Each person brings different interests, perspectives, weaknesses and strengths to a relationship. You might like some things your partner offers, like being a great cook, making you laugh, getting on well with others, but can’t stand their music taste or the fact that they are so interested in games or react too quickly at times.
Some conflict in relationships is expected, and there are ways to handle it so it doesn’t destroy your relationship.
Relationships can become stronger if partners can talk about differences as a part of their relationship. Respectful communication and a bit of give and take is vitally important.
Being aware you have expectations and what they are helps. Do you need those expectations to be met by your partner?
DEALING WITH CONFLICT
• Pulling Away – When you feel the overwhelming sense of panic when you believe your partner is pulling away or leaving you – it may be irrational but in those moments your brain isn’t able to reassure you that you’re just being irrational.
Abandonment when growing up, can trigger this upsetting feeling and the need to repair the issue IMMEDIATELY. This may push your partner away if they are needing space.
So what if you need to talk NOW and your partner needs space?
If you need the reassurance, you have a much better chance of getting that if you respect your partners need for space. Asking your partner to let you know you are loved when they need space to calm down and process the situation causes more conflict. Hear them and respect that. Your turn will come sooner rather than later.
• Shutting Down – Now if you’re shutting down a lot and need time to process or get away from your partner, maybe you struggle with conflict. Maybe you grew up with a lot of conflict or maybe a little or no conflict. Either way you were likely not taught how to effectively argue and repair.
You may become triggered by a perceived attack, threat or rejection and go to SHUT DOWN to protect yourself.
Taking time to recover may be necessary and ok – but what if your partner thinks that you don’t care about them when you shutdown?
As with pulling away, letting your partner know you love them and that you just need some time to process and work through the situation.
Self-reflection and exploration is necessary for healthy relationships. It brings about self- awareness.
• Reasurrance – Whether it’s because your parents were helicopter parents or because they were abusive or absent, we subconsciously develop a sense of insecurity and doubt ourselves.
Maybe you weren’t given the reassurance as a child that was important for you to feel a sense of confidence in yourself to explore and make mistakes? Maybe you weren’t even acknowledged or maybe you where validated TOO much?
How does this impact your relationship? You may find yourself being really defensive and feeling insecure. Instead of giving your partner an opportunity to reassure you, you push them away. Maybe they can’t actually reassure you at that time – whatever they do just isn’t good enough for you.
What do you want to hear what they say?
What is your self talk when you find yourself feeling insecure?
INVESTMENT TIME IN / ON YOUR RELATIONSHIP
Depending on how much love, time and attention your parents gave you, the involvement in your life affects how much time and attention you put into your relationship.
From a young age you learned to fit in, play a role in your immediate family, to be whatever the family unit needed you to be.
Since you are so used to being in a certain role within your family, you may look for and find partners that keep you stuck in that role (with no self-awareness of this fact).
WHERE TO FROM HERE
So how do you become aware of how your childhood affects your relationships…
Listen to what your heart is telling you.
What are the thoughts that are repeatedly coming up for you?
What then do you use as your defense mechanisms?