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.