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Parent-Child Relationships Impact on Intimate Relationships


Something that has been a common theme with my clients recently has been the development and maintenance of intimate relationships in adulthood.

You may know people who seem to have no trouble with this – you know the kind; they seem to just fall into meaningful and healthy relationships with seemingly no effort.Then there are others who seem to attract toxicity, and sometimes even thrive off it.Typically people come to see me regarding the latter.They will ask things like “why is this so hard?” and “why do I always seem to attract toxic people?”. And although every situation and relationship are unique, I find that the common theme is relatively simple: look at your relationship with your parents.


We grow up in certain environments, and usually for a very long time we know no different. Now, if we grow up in a healthy environment this is a non-issue, however if we grow up in environments of emotional and/or physical abuse; neglect; stonewalling; or emotional chaos, this becomes problematic. You see, although the experiences themselves may not be pleasant and conducive to a secure attachment style, they become all we know. By that token, there comes a certain sense of predictability in the chaos. And what is the one thing we want when we are little and highly anxious? Predictability.


Fast forward to adulthood. We have grown up only knowing emotional chaos (and therefore, it has become predicable). So now that we are an anxious adult, we seek stability and predictability. Unfortunately though, we don’t know what healthy relationships look like – they are essentially “the unknown”. And what is the most terrifying concept to an anxious person? That’s right, “the unknown”. This is not to say that we agree, appreciate or condone toxic behaviour in relationships – however we will seek familiarity. This is what prevents us from saying “actually no, I deserve better and I am done here”. Even if we know that we deserve better, the idea of launching ourselves into the unknown can be so cripplingly terrifying that we stay in our safety net of reliable toxicity.


So if you recognise this as a pattern within yourself, what can you do? Essentially the first step is coming to therapy to unpack everything that has got you to this point. If you feel like this is something that you would like support with, call us on 37160445 to start the conversation about healthier, more meaningful relationships.


If you are interested in discussing any of the points further, we would be more than happy to hear from you. Feel free to send an email to admin@youmatterpsychologists.com.au and we will answer any questions you may have.



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