The way we were treated as children and adolescents has a lasting impact on how we view the world, interact with others and conduct ourselves as adults. If our parents acted in an unhealthy manner, we are likely to do the same in the future until we change our habits.
Psychology Today outlined 10 ways that childhood trauma manifests in adult relationships.
Fears of abandonment
If a child was neglected or abandoned by a caregiver, they often struggle with fears of abandonment as adults. This can be the case even if a person is unaware this fear exists.
Being irritable or easily annoyed with others
Those who grow up with caregivers that frequently criticize them or witness others being criticized learn that it’s natural to express displeasure in relationships. They learn that imperfections are intolerable and they project that onto those around them.
Needing a lot of space or time to yourself
These individuals often grow up with a constant state of hypervigilance, born out of a chaotic or unpredictable environment. That means as adults, they may need a lot of time to themselves to calm symptoms of anxiety, nervousness and fear.
Unequal financial and household responsibilities
This can appear like a reluctance to rely on a partner due to fears of depending on another person. But also, it takes the form of taking complete responsibility for financial and household matters, which resulted from unmet childhood needs.
Settling and staying in a relationship much longer than its expiration date
Those who grew up in unstable environments with caregivers struggling from addiction, mental illness, illness or death, can develop a sense of guilt that comes from wanting to end a relationship before being able to “fix” their partner.
Constant arguing or fighting in relationships or avoiding conflict at all costs
Children who grew up around caregivers that were always arguing or who avoided any sort of conflict, often do not learn the skills necessary to have productive and healthy communication.
Not knowing how to repair after fights
Not knowing how to have productive and healthy management of conflict hinders one’s ability to understand how to repair a relationship after conflict happens. This can take the form of pretending it didn’t happen, not knowing when or how to compromise on an issue or giving the silent treatment.
Approaches like this one are based on fears of being hurt again, being alone, or trying to prove yourself worthy of love and affection that you didn’t receive in childhood. A new relationship is also a way to show yourself worthy of the love and companionship you’ve been missing.
Trying to change their partner
Sometimes children learn to try to accept what they have as they are powerless to change who their caregivers are. That means as adults, it’s common to desire changes without their partners in order to calm their fears. “Fixing” a person and making them a better partner can prove self-worth.