To understand one reason why relationships are so hard, we need to look at the 17+ years we lived under our parents’ roofs. What does this have to do with our adult intimate relationships? Well, these many years of dependence create vulnerabilities that we carry into our future relationships.
When we are very young, we are both physically and emotionally dependent on our caregivers, and continue to be emotionally dependent through adolescence (and often beyond). Being dependent takes its toll because we are extremely vulnerable to the ways our caregivers can disappoint or hurt us. None of us are immune from the fears that go along with this vulnerable state—fears of abandonment (“what if my caregivers leave me?”), inadequacy (“what if I’m not good enough for them to stick around”) trust issues, (“what if they betray me?”), to name a few.
Even with the best of parents, these fears develop because no relationship is perfect and our caregivers are bound to disappoint. With less than optimal parenting, these fears grow and can disrupt our adult romantic relationships.
Stay tuned to Part II of “Why are relationships so hard?”.