It may seem obvious that if your parents never expressed affection with each other, it would affect the way you behave in relationships as an adult. A new study from Tel Aviv University shows that it’s not just our parents interactions with each other that matter, but also the way they interacted with you.
The study looked at 58 adults between the ages of 22 and 28 and found those who avoid committed romantic relationships were more likely to have had unresponsive or helicopter parents as children. About 22 percent of the participants were “avoidant” in relationships, meaning they have anxiety about intimacy, are cautious to commit or feel their partner is clingy.
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While avoidant individuals did express a desire for intimacy in relationships, they were conflicted about this need due to a complex parent-child dynamic from their early years.
According to the study, avoidance occurs when children seek emotional support, but learn to avoid caregivers who are either unresponsive or over-intrusive. As adults, they try to satisfy those unmet childhood needs, looking for relationships in which they're validated and accepted, but can keep our personal issues to themselves.
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As a self-proclaimed commitment phobe, I do have to admit it is nice to have some understanding of where these underlying fears about relationships come from. Even though a therapist told me this exact same thing eight years ago, I was clearly not ready to hear it.
The good news is that these “attachment” styles are not permanent and can change with new experiences and relationships, according to the study, which I can vouch for. All it takes is some tough romantic love, a few years of mishaps, and an academic study from Tel Aviv.
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