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How Your Childhood can Affect Your Romantic Life

By: Leah Hovey

As a child, we all experience different family situations that can directly affect who we are as adults. Depending on socioeconomic status, what values you were raised to have, how many family members you have or even how your parents treated you can severely impact who you are as an individual.

Today we are going to be focusing on the parental aspect of our upbringing. How your parents treated you as a child can have direct correlations with how you go about your adult relationships in the future. Dr. Milan and Kay Yerkovich have created various categories of love styles that are direct impacts of how you were raised and treated as a child. By examining each category, I hope readers can see if they identify with any of these styles and hopefully use these tips to change our destructive patterns and find the right partner in life!

1.The Pleaser

The Pleaser is an individual who grew up with overly protective and critical parents. As children, they try their very best to obey their parents and be on their best behaviour as to not elicit a negative response. There may be high expectations from the parents and praise is only given when the child lives up to said expectations. These children do not receive comfort from their parents so they in turn give comfort to their parents to keep peace. As adults in relationships, pleasers may not be great at dealing with any negative criticism, conflicts or problems that arise. They may often try to avoid conflicts which can lead to lying, avoiding confrontation or bottling up their problems from their partners. This can cause rifts within the relationship as conflict is a natural part of healthy relationships, and pleasers are known to often leave relationships when things get challenging as opposed to trying to face conflict head on.

To achieve healthy relationships, pleasers need to learn how to ask for what they want within their relationships and learn to face conflict in a mature, open way.

2. The Victim

The Victim is an individual who may have grown up in an unstable environment. Whether these children dealt with abuse, addiction, a challenging divorce or neglect, children will learn to be silent, try their best to stay invisible and be very compliant. This can lead to children hiding themselves within imaginary worlds in order to cope with the abuse they may face from their parents. As adults in relationships, these individuals will often struggle with self-esteem, depression, negative coping mechanisms and anxiety. Unfortunately, these individuals end up picking partners who are similar to their parents as they are used to chaos and toxic people in their lives. It may even be so bad that if there is a truly kind, compassionate individual who is interested in them; the victim will feel on edge and be constantly waiting for something bad to happen.

To achieve healthy relationships, victims need to practise self-love, confront their trauma and learn to avoid partners with similar characteristics as their parents.

3. The Controller

The Controller is an individual who had a family environment that was unstable, lacked protection from their parents and may have experienced neglect. As children, they learn to fend for themselves and grow to have a tough persona as a defence mechanism. Having constant control in their lives is key and humiliation, failure and helplessness is something these individuals do not want to experience. As adults in relationships, in order to not experience the helplessness they felt as children, they try to control every aspect of their lives and this may lead to controlling their partner as well. Anger is a common emotion used to hold power and controllers like to solve their own problems without involving another person. This can lead to the demise of relationships as to have a functioning partnership there must be compromise.

To achieve healthy relationships the controller must learn to be vulnerable, learn that things may not always go their way, trust others and manage their anger.

4. The Vacillator

The Vacillator is an individual who grows up with inconsistency from their parents. Their parents may be constantly working, traveling, busy with other siblings or other parts of their life which makes the child a lower priority. These children grow up craving affection and fearing abandonment from their parent. This can cause anger or dismissive attitudes when the parent finally does show attention to the child. As adults in relationships, vacillators end up craving attention, love and companionship. This can lead to jumping into relationships, ignoring red flags, putting up with negative behaviour in order to keep a partner and feeling very let down when relationships end.

To achieve healthy relationships the vacillator must avoid getting committed too quickly, letting a relationship grow naturally, practise self-love and avoid having un-achievable expectations of their partners.

5. The Avoider

The avoider is an individual who grew up in a less affectionate household and had to rely on themselves often when growing up. Independence is a large part of the child's life and these individuals may not have close relationships with their parents. As adults in relationships, avoiders are very independent, enjoy their space and often detach themselves when conflict arises as opposed to feeling their emotions.

To achieve healthy relationships the avoider must try to open up with their partners and not hide from their emotions.


Yerkovich, M., & Yerkovich, K. (2017). How We Love. Retrieved September 28, 2018

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