Bad news for Lindsay Lohan, Angelina Jolie, Tori Spelling, and other celebs who have claimed to have a difficult time with their folks while growing up: Science has recently proven that the worse your relationship was with your parents as a child, the worse you are at getting over arguments with your significant other as an adult.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota followed babies born in the mid-1970s until they reached adulthood. In their early 20s, the people who had a secure relationship with their parents as infants turned out to be better at getting over a fight with their significant other.
Thankfully, this doesn't necessarily mean your romance is doomed if, say, you or your partner lived through major family drama as a kid. (Whew! Brad and Angie still have a fighting chance!)
The researchers say that only one of you has to be "emotionally-equipped." In other words, if one person can quickly disengage from conflict and avoid dwelling on negative thoughts and emotions, this tendency will eventually rub off on the partner who is less likely to do so. In turn, you're less likely to break up.
Obviously, over time, our behaviors, habits, and experience can't help but rub off on our partner. In my four-year relationship, I know my boyfriend and I have influenced one another. I've steered him away from eating only pasta and PBJs to eating sushi and helping me cook Greek food or vegan chili! He's helped me to laugh off a lot of things that would have otherwise gotten me all riled up in my single years.
But, as far as conflict resolution goes, I'm the much more communicative person between us (has to do with my upbringing to some extent -- I was yakking my face off in the crib). So, I always want to resolve, resolve, resolve ASAP. He doesn't brood, per se, but he definitely needs some time to think things through when we've had an argument. That can be an hour or a day. Usually, given my need to "disengage from conflict" quickly, I attempt to speed up his process. And I do think my emotional toolbox bolsters our relationship. Especially when he's being Mr. Grumpy and doesn't want to tell me what's bugging him. (Aren't straight men like that, though? That's what my mom has always said!) Also, this study makes me wonder what about the fact that, to some extent, men can be more stubborn ...
Hilariously, other research has shown women get over arguments faster because they're more capable of "empathizing with others." Uh, not sure I buy THAT completely! I know MANY women who hold mega-grudges, and a lot of men who are much more skilled at offering empathy.
Maybe these Freudian-ish findings are not as easy to generalize as researchers would like them to be. But I do appreciate that they're taking the time to study human relationships, to explore how we bond, argue, make up with one another. With the rate of divorce being what it is, it certainly can't hurt!
Do you buy the study's findings that your childhood relationship with your parents influences your ability to resolve conflicts with your partner today?
Image via Kevin Dooley/Flickr
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