For those who have survived and thrived despite challenges during childhood, it can be heartwrenching to accept that these experiences have had a prolonged effect on adult relationships. The majority of adults have either experienced a difficult childhood event or had just enough time to gradually knock their parents off of their pedestals and view them as lovable but flawed human beings.
No family dynamic is perfect. Often, the families who work to project the appearance of perfection are actually the ones with the most internal struggles. And it’s important to note that relationships with family members teach children how men and women treat each other—for better or for worse.
Those who have witnessed a harsher family environment can have a harder time recognizing, defining, and finding healthy relationships in adulthood. This problem is much more common than people realize—if you have ever found yourself wondering whether you may misinterpret the actions and words of your loved one, then follow these guidelines to combat insecurities relationship in your adult life.
Cut yourself some slack
If no one taught you what a loving healthy relationship looked like during childhood, then how can you be expected to recognize such a relationship? You can’t. Many adults must teach themselves these life skills, which can be incredibly time consuming and frustrating. However, acquisition of these skills is possible; childhood examples of relationships do not have to define the relationships you choose for yourself in adulthood.
Many people choose to date the same type of people over and over again without ever understanding why these relationships never work out. On a subconscious level, it’s common to pick relationships that feel familiar.
Some may even subconsciously choose these people in order to figure out what went wrong in their parents’ relationship(s). Here is the great news: if you have realized that relationship resembles that of your parents and you are unhappy, then you have already become healthier than the last generation in your family. Be kind to yourself and remember that many people do not take the time to listen to their intuition in the way that you have.
There are many forms of relationship attachment, some of which are even relatively healthy. For example, asking someone for help during a difficult period of time is not a weakness. As long as you do not rely upon this individual to fix your own problems, turning to your loved one in times of stress can offer a healthy type of support.
However, many children do not experience a true form of unconditional love from their family members, and this can lead to a feeling of loss or a yearning for this type of acceptance. Those who have not experienced enough love or the type of healthy connection they deserved in childhood may become attached to the wrong type of individual as a result. Although you may feel unhappy in your current relationship, you may not wish to leave if you are still in great need of any type of affection.
Psychologist Leslie Becker-Phelps suggests that the first stage of addressing this type of issue is establishing and nurturing an emotional connection with someone who represents safety. This can be a therapist, a religious leader in the community, or even a friend. This step can teach you what a healthy emotional connection feels like, and this can lead to a healthier connection with a current or future loved one.
Erase anxiety-driven thoughts
Always trust your intuition. If you instantly feel like someone is a cheater, then perhaps the person is what initially sense. As the saying goes, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck. Learn to trust your instincts. If you do not, then you may continue to date people who end up disappointing you.
After an initial assessment of a person, you may find it difficult to know whether or not the person is as decent as they first appeared. Again, if you have not yet seen what healthy looks like then you may question the person and their intentions in order to protect yourself.
Much of this anxiety is not actually a form of protection, but rather an obstacle to finding happiness in your relationship. Some people may call you things like “jealous,” “needy,” or even “paranoid.” Remind yourself of your initial gut feeling about this individual, and try to find any possible connection between the actions of your current loved one and people from your past. Evaluate whether your emotions are connected to your pastor to your present. Be your own best friend during this process, and you will be able to think your way into a healthy relationship.