So your parents’ marriage didn’t work out….
Ever wondered if this affects your dating life? Well it does, probably more than you realise.
“We learn from the experiences of our parents and this affects how we date,” explains relationship psychologist John Malouff from the University of New England. “For example, we might be cautious when choosing a spouse or we might choose to seek help for a marriage before problems escalate.”
If your parents are divorced, a UK study by the Economic and Social Research Council shows you’re more likely to think splitting-up for good is the answer to relationship problems.
But what if you don’t want to follow in your parents’ divorced footsteps? Can you change the course? Malouff says you can.
“It is important for us to recognise that we are different people from our parents and don’t need to go down the same relationship paths. Mindlessly copying relationship behaviours that did not work for the parents is a mistake.”
What are these dangerous relationship behaviours we should be aware of? According to the UK study, people with divorced parents fall under one of the following four categories. Knowing which one will help ensure you break the divorce cycle.
1. The “I won’t marry” group
So… you’re a little scarred. It’s normal to feel vulnerable but don’t shut yourself off from love and marriage. As the all-knowledgeable Hal Montgomery says in A Cinderella Story, “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”
2. The “I want the picket fence” group
This is for the people who grew up with little stability in their life, and think that by getting married their life will be steady. But this isn’t necessarily true. If your parents’ marriage didn’t work out, don’t try to prove that you’ll be different by jumping quickly into a life you aren’t prepared for.
3. The “I love you until you mess up” group
Hands up if you sometimes mentally wait for something terrible to happen in your relationships? Well stop! This will bring that expectation to a reality and sabotage your relationships.
4. The “I love you no matter how you treat me” group
It’s not okay to be treated like dirt by anyone – let alone your partner. If you know your partner is treating you poorly, end it. Don’t be afraid to be alone. Independence is power!
At the end of the day, the experts say, you’re the one in control of your relationship and you can choose how to play it out.
“It is important for us to learn from the problems and mistakes of our parents,” says Malouff. Recognising bad relationship habits is the first step to changing them.
“By learning from what we observe, we can make ourselves better able to establish and maintain good romantic relationships.” – Melissa Henricks
Photo from DrJohnBullas’s Flickr photostream.