Emerging research suggest a rough childhood can detrimentally affect romantic relationships in later years.
In two separate studies, researchers examined the stability and satisfaction of intimate relationships among college students with a history of childhood emotional maltreatment (CEM).
The studies, published in the Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, suggest that emotional abuse as a child impacted relationship fulfillment due to self-criticism.
Researchers discovered that participants had an extremely strong tendency to self-criticize, and this interfered with their relationship satisfaction.
The studies also revealed that some participants had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to the emotional abuse they endured. Researchers suggest this could be the result of internalizing behaviors caused by the maltreatment or by a child’s inability to properly comprehend their circumstances.
Childhood maltreatment includes sexual and physical abuse, emotional maltreatment and neglect. Childhood maltreatment is a significant contributor to the dramatic increase in referrals to university counseling centers, researchers believe.
Investigators believe childhood maltreatment also generates self-criticism causing a destructive effect on romantic relationships.
“Over time, this tendency might be consolidated, becoming a defining part of a person’s personality, and ultimately derailing relationships in general and romantic relationships in particular,” said Dana Lassri, whose doctoral dissertation, supervised by psychologist Dr. Golan Shahar, served as the basis for the study.
Lassri believes that even though these findings were gathered from college-age individuals, the behaviors could potentially worsen throughout adulthood.