Your childhood relationship with your major caregivers (i.e. your parents) have been scientifically proven to impact and influence your expectations, attitudes, emotions and behavioural actions in your relationship with others into adult life. Known as Attachment Theory, there is a large body of evidence that suggests the recurring experiences of a young child with their primary carer effects their temperament and manifests into one of three of attachment styles: secure, insecure-avoidant, and insecure-anxious. These attachment styles have been shown to persist into adulthood and become the underlying, default for how we operate in important relationships. Certain types such as insecure-avoidant and insecure-anxious can lead to problematic issues in relationships if not acknowledged and addressed. Some individuals may find it challenging to show affection or love towards their spouse or children.
This scenario haunted my life for many years. My mother seemed unable or willing to show any meaningful affection towards myself or my siblings. As I grew older I found it challenging and stressful for myself to respond in a positive manner towards the emotional needs of partners. My instinctive response was to pull away and protect myself. I did not understand the reasons for my actions until I was introduced to Attachment Theory. I was able to gain important clarity to the circumstances surrounding my mother’s situation which provided insights into events which indirectly impacted our relationship. My mother was 3 years old at the commencement of World War 2. She was forceful separated from her mother and evacuated into foster care until her teenage years. She suffered maternal deprivation and affectionless upbringing. Unfortunately for her this period served as a prototype for all her future relationships.
The good news is you can change your template so you experience a greater sense of security in your relationships. You need to develop a better self-understanding of how your upbringing affected your relationship with your parents during your childhood years and acknowledge any insecure attachment styles that are prevalent. If you feel any sense of insecurity you need to be compassionate with yourself. Similarly, seeking help and support from others can be a beneficial approach.