Have you ever thought about the way that your parents shaped the romantic relationships you’d grow up to face? If you’re anything like most people, you’d probably rather pretend that your parents didn’t have anything to do with your dating life. After all, that creepy old adage that you end up dating your father and being your mother – no one wants to grow up and see that one turn out true, trust me.

But even though we don’t want to see ourselves in that type of situation, overwhelmingly we may find that we are stuck in those relationships. Sure, they might not seem exactly the same on the surface, but let’s explore the 4 little ways that parents end up rubbing off on you when you least want them to.


What were their gender roles like?

Assuming you were raised by a heterosexual or heteronormative couple, your childhood probably had one authoritative head-of-household, and another, more nurturing parent. Even though you might not have felt drawn to the strictness imposed on you as a child, you are more likely to seek that same strength and courage in your future partners. If you end up dating someone who you see as more of a pushover, you might secretly want to see them build their own strength and courage – even if they’re quite comfortable being a softy.


Did your parents lean on you to solve problems for them?

When parents turn to their kids for their problem-solving needs, they create a sense of dependence in their kids, and according to Kavita J. Patel, love and relationship coach, you might end up needing to feel that your partner is dependent on you. You may be more drawn to the “fixer-upper” type, and you might even look forward to someone needing your help to be happy. The partner you end up with might even say things like how you complete her – even though real love is more about complementing than completing.


Did they show affection in front of you?

While most of us can agree that watching your parents make out is beyond awkward, their own comfort with PDA in front of you (and other people) can help instill more comfort with affection in you. If, on the other hand, your parents took a more hands-off approach, at least when out in public, it may have subconsciously alienated you from the idea of affection. Kids with hands-off parents tend to be weirder about physical intimacy as they get older, and are likely to resist PDA, too.


How much did they let slide?

Chances are, if both of your parents were super critical of one another (and also of you), you’re going to grow up to be hypercritical too – that’s just a given. But, most of the time, two hypercritical people don’t end up together – and that’s where things get a little interesting. If the parent you favored as a child was the recipient of the critical remarks, you’re less likely to be critical of your future partners, because you empathized with the way your parent was treated when you were younger. If, however, you favored the parent who was doing the criticizing, it’s likely that you’ll end up inadvertently following in that parent’s footsteps, becoming super critical in your own relationships, too.