Unhappy With Your Relationship? Blame Your Parents

Are you constantly unhappy in your relationships?  Are you constantly picking people that are bad for you?  Do you push away people that are actually good for you?  Well, it may all be your parents' fault.

All of these questions go back to a thing called attachment theory.  Attachment theory is based on the idea that the quality of our attachments as a young child have a major impact on our attachments as adults.

To set a baseline, there are four different major attachment styles.  They are secure, insecure anxious, insecure avoidant, and insecure disorganized. 

Secure children mourn the departure of their caregivers and celebrate their return.  Insecure anxious children mourn the departure of their caregivers and, although they may celebrate their return, they don't necessarily believe that they will stay as they have been hurt by them in the past.  Insecure avoidant children do not mourn the departure of their caregivers nor do they celebrate their return.  Insecure disorganized children display both anxious and avoidant behaviors, but they do so erratically.

Regardless of which of these attachment styles you have, studies have shown that people often revert back to relationships that are similar to those that they had as a child.  

Dr. Amir Levine is a psychiatrist at Columbia University.  Dr. Levine said, "Our attachment system preferentially sees things according to what has happened in the past.  It’s kind of like searching in Google where it fills in based on what you searched before."

For example, if you had parents that did not comfort you when you needed it, it is likely that you will search out people in your adult life that do the same.  Furthermore, when adults find relationships that provide an attachment style that they are unfamiliar and uncomfortable with, even if it is a secure attachment style, they often sabotage the relationship in order to get out of it.

Studies have found that 40 to 50 percent of young children develop insecure attachments due to their early relationships.  When that is combined with the fact that about half of marriages end in divorce, it becomes more and more likely that a person has insecure attachments.

Due in part to these two major pieces of information, intervention programs are available.  These programs are often based on the idea of understanding your attachment style and then learning how to establish more secure relationships.

Read the full story at The New York Times

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