How Your Relationship With Your Parents Influences Your Love Life

This Valentine's Day, take science's advice and look back at the relationship you had with your parents as a teen. A University of Alberta study recently found that the bond between your adolescent self and your folks, however rocky or peaceful, can impact how romantically successful you are for up to 15 years.

"People tend to compartmentalize their relationships," explained Matt Johnson, relationship researcher and co-author of the study. "They tend not to see the connection between one kind, such as family relations, and another, like couple unions. But understanding your contribution to the relationship with your parents would be important to recognizing any tendency to replicate behaviour – positive or negative – in an intimate relationship."

"Understanding your contribution to the relationship with your parents would be important to recognizing any tendency to replicate behaviour – positive or negative – in an intimate relationship." -Matt Johnson

The study was based on the survey results from 2,970 people who were interviewed at three stages of life, from ages 12 to 32. To no one's surprise, people who had a good relationship with their parents growing up reported a slightly higher quality of romantic relationships.

If you've ever talked to a therapist or even just watched Dr. Phil, you know that blaming grown-up romantic messes on parents is far from revolutionary. But Johnson warns against using this as an excuse to avoid shaping up. "It is important to recognize everyone has a role to play in creating a healthy relationship," he said, "and each person needs to take responsibility for their contribution to that dynamic." So go ahead and psychoanalyze yourself, but remember, when it comes to your love life, you're still in the driver's seat.

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