What is your first recollection of a romantic relationship? Sure, you may say it was the couple you watched in your daily cartoon series, your next door neighbors, or two teachers who had met and fallen in love at your school. But can you remember an example that dates from much earlier than that?
Your parents. The very people who brought you into this world are those who have offered you your first model of what love is, and what it’s supposed to look like.
After all, it’s due to the love held between our parents that each one of us is here today, right?
For those who grew up with parents who were relatively smitten with and respected each other, then there is no issue with that. You live while knowing what a healthy, sane relationship looks like.
But for those who have the unfortunate luck of having parents who don’t get on with each other so well, it’s a whole different story. And a scary one, at that.
The amount of influence our parents’ relationship can have on our own romantic relationships in the long run can be frightening, because most of the time we’re not even aware of it.
We may think that our relationships turn out the way they do because we’re hopeless romantics, or because we just have “bad luck,” when really, it’s our subconscious idea of love that hinders us from finding it.
How do our parents affect our relationships?
When I speak of our parents affecting our relationships, I don’t mean it in the sense that they literally come in between us and our partner (although that may be an issue for some people, which is best saved for another story). I speak of the indirect influence they have on the way we perceive relationships.
As children, we are eager to pick up on and learn from everything that is around us. Our parents, who occupy most of our time, are the primary people from whom we learn the basic facts of life. We also learn how to address people, and face situations.
In short, we tend to absorb their manners as our own.
So, for example, if I come from a family with parents who communicate with each other in certain way, I am inclined — or inspired — to act the same way with my own partner in the future, whether I realize it or not.
We learn to copy our parents’ behavior. If our parents don’t show much affection to each other, yell at each other, and in worst cases, aren’t loyal to each other, this is the type of relationship that will begin to make the most sense to us. Because it’s the only relationship model we have.
What happens after that? We are doomed to seek relationships that are similar to theirs. On a subconscious level, we chase after what we’re used to, whether it’s good for us or not.
Is there a way to break the cycle?
Our childhood constitutes much of our personalities, including our attitudes and behaviors. Mirroring our parents in a lot of areas has become the way we go about dealing with day to day life, but there does come a point where their influence begins to become clearer to us.
If we’re in a relationship, or go from one relationship to the next, that fails due to some type of behavior that is reflective of that of our parents in their relationship, then we awaken to the connection and begin to investigate it.
This is when we may start acting in a complete opposite way to our parents. If their relationship was one that was filled with disrespect, fights, and little to no romance, then we will be called on to try and see a different side to relationships.
We begin to teach ourselves that relationships can in fact be different for everyone, depending on who is involved, and they do not have to face the same fate as our parents’. We start to treat love more personally, rather than an act to indulge in with our parents’ perception and attitude towards it.
This is when the cycle breaks slowly, and our wounded inner child begins to heal, allowing us to experience love for how we want to experience it, in all its whole uniqueness.
Deciding that you are not your parents
The hardest part in getting to heal our inner child and fixing the model of relationships that our parents created for us is learning that we are not our parents. We are our own individuals, who can think and act for ourselves.
I say this is so hard because our parents are the people in whom we’ve placed so much trust for showing us how to go about living life from the very beginning. We had received them as the first ones to show us an example of love, and other aspects of life, without considering that they, too, are humans capable of having flaws.
Our upbringing can have a big impact on how we go about life, but we can learn to stop our parents’ influence from surpassing its limit.
While we can appreciate the good aspects of their teachings, we can throw away the bad aspects. We are allowed to, and need to, for the sake of creating space for our own teachings. Both for ourselves, and for future generations.
As a society, we have formed an idea of love that is something difficult to achieve, as if it’s something we have to achieve in the first place. Humans have loved each other for millions of years, and our current generation shouldn’t be any different.
We’ve just complicated love. We think it’s something outside of us, especially an idea that models the romantic relationships we know best. But we cannot depend on these models, especially our parents’ which may not align with our own perception of what love and romantic relationships stand for.
We see and experience love on a daily basis, for we, ourselves, are an embodiment of love. As such, we can form a basis of what love is, and how we’d like to experience it from another person in a romantic union.
Love shouldn’t be mimicked or pictured as a certain ideal, for a perfect picture of it doesn’t exist. We can break the cycle if we choose to, and begin to address and welcome love the way we were meant to. Not how anyone in the external world perceives or embodies it, but how we — our inner self — love itself, experiences it.
This post was previously published on MEDIUM.COM.
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