7 Dysfunctional Family Dynamics That Really Mess With Your Relationships

Your mom's first love could be affecting yours.

woman having problems with boyfriend Kamil Macniak / Shutterstock

You're a catch. You pay your bills on time, you have no unsightly facial hairs, and are sensitive enough to feel mushy around dogs and babies. If one or more of the above is not true, no need to read further. You probably have some work to do on yourself.

I meet a lot of clients who are seemingly stellar, yet they have the same old story: We started things very quickly and ended things just as quickly... I'm always single... I'm always the dumper or dumpee... none of the dudes/chicks on eHarmony ever follow up with me... I always meet men/women who are unavailable/uninterested/live in another state.


RELATED: The 5 Ways Growing Up In A Dysfunctional Family Changes You — And How To Break The Cycle

Whatever your pattern, everyone has them. The tricky part is, most of our patterns are out of our control, so even my most seemingly aware clients fall into these traps. The majority of our patterning operates on family dynamics that have nothing to do with us. Yes, you heard me correctly: you could blame mom and dad and your dysfunctional family for your spinster/bachelorhood.

You see, we navigate life partly from our own experiences, but largely from the experiences of our parents, aunts/uncles, siblings, and grandparents before us. We are "pulled" to follow them and their fates, and additionally, we repeat a lot of what they did out of love and loyalty.


There are literally dozens and dozens of family dynamics that can affect you romantically, and I've outlined seven of them for you, as well as relationship advice to move past it. 

Here are 7 family dynamics that could be keeping you single.

1. Your mother and father got divorced.

Obviously, this dynamic sets you up for a split in a way that children of parents who stayed together don't. Additionally, when our parents' divorce, we often consciously ally with one parent and subconsciously ally with the other, creating a messy cocktail of entanglements that leave very little room for our own romance.

2. Your mother or father had an ex-spouse before each other, and it didn't end well.

Energetically, we can feel guilty towards an ex-spouse of a parent that was not treated fairly, especially if there were children involved from that marriage, and overly identify ourselves in that situation.

RELATED: 6 Signs You Were Raised In A Dysfunctional Family


3. Your mother or father had true love before each other that never came to fruition.

If your parents had a true love that never made it off the ground, we erroneously think "who are we to have that"? Additionally, we can identify with the ex-lover and make for an interesting dynamic with our parents that is not very romance-friendly.

4. Your mother or father is now single (or your sibling, friends, and other relatives).

We desperately want to belong to a tribe. If they are single, what the heck are they going to think of us if we find true love? Will they accept us? Will they kick us out of the tribe? Will we feel guilty for having a warm and fuzzy relationship when they cannot?

5. You have a sibling or relative that died young and tragically.

We tend not to want to surpass our parents and our siblings. If a sibling was denied the ability to get married (for whatever reason), we will often shy away from having what they did not have the opportunity to have.

6. Your mother did not respect your father or vice-versa.

We learn from our same-sex parents how to turn fully into a partner. If it was not shown at home, it is hard to replicate that.


7. Your mother or father relied way too much on you to be their "partner," best friend, or confidant.

When you are your mom's gal pal or your dad's therapist, you are overstepping boundaries that leave very little space for your own partner to come in.

Time to just be your parents' child so you can have space for your own romantic life.

Don't let a dysfunctional family and family dynamics of the past affect your current life and future.


We honor our family members when we are able to disentangle ourselves from their patterns, stop following them in that way, and live a life that is richer, fuller, and more fulfilled. And that means having a loving relationship. 

RELATED: 10 Tragic-But-True Reasons People Cut Family Members Out Of Their Lives

Natalie Berthold is a Health and Wellness Coach, Facilitator of healing, Teacher, Family Constellation Therapist, and Reiki Master. For more of her work, visit her website.