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Intimate Partner Relationships: Do They Mirror Relationships with Your Parents?

Updated: Jun 19, 2022

Why we interact the way we do is complicated, but it is helpful to know your attachment type - which is developed in childhood.


I am sure you have heard people say that you marry your parents, your Mom or your Dad. There is some truth to that. We continue to interact in intimate partner relationships, the way we interacted with our parents (without a conscious change of pattern that is). Some people think it is because "we watched how are parents interacted". Even though that is important, if you have 2 parents around, the truth is, it is because your parents (or single parent), regardless of their gender, were your first loves, your first intimate relationships. They were the people who provided YOU with safety, security, and love (or the lack of it). If one of your parents had a difficulty with connection or attachment in intimate relationships themselves that affected their emotional connection to you. If one of your parents left or abandoned you, that affected you. If one of your parents (knowingly or unknowingly) neglected some of your needs (or all of them), or if one of your parents was fearful and reactionary or did not protect you, it affected your attachment to them, and, thus your attachment to future intimate partners.

You end up as an adult with either a fully secure attachment pattern or some level of insecure relationship pattern in close or intimate relationships and all types of non fully secure relationship patterns create anxiety. Ever wonder why you or so many people have anxiety or social anxiety, or it just "takes a lot of energy" to be around others? It is because you have an insecurity in close relationships. It could also be for other reasons, like the person is not kind, of course, but for the sake of this explanation, let's just talk about safe interactions.

Now, let's look at your attachment type. Here is a link that has easy to read explanations of the following attachments types: Secure, Anxious-Preoccupied (insecure), Dismissive-Avoidant (insecure), and Fearful-Avoidant (insecure). Please note that only about half of the people in the world (most studies show) have a secure attachment type. However, the sooner you realize your attachment patterns, the sooner you can decide if you want to change or improve your level of security in relationships.

Well, did you click on the link and make an assessment of your attachment type? Which one are you? I had a fearful-avoidant attachment type going into adulthood, and I married a person based on this insecure attachment. It made developing a healthy relationship difficult, even though that was the goal. Over time, and with therapy, healing, practice, and self-awareness, I was better and better able to increase my level of security in relationships, but it took hard work. It took owning my own reactions to things, so I could decide if it was a security issue on my part or a real unhealthy behavior going on the other person's part, or both.

I want to encourage you today to make a commitment to know and own your level of security in relationships. Once you do this, you can decide if you like things the way they are, if you want to change (even if it is for your children so you are able to teach them secure attachment) or if you want to think more about it.

If you want to talk about this further, schedule an appointment for therapy, or just explore the options that could be helpful, please contact this writer at

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