We often hear people commenting on our looks as we age, giving us the old “You look just like your mama!” phrase. But what about dating just like your mama too?
According to a new study published in the journal PLoSOne, the children of women who witnessed their mom be married multiple times or who witnessed their mother co-habitate with multiple partners, tend to do the same thing in their own relationships. The data surveyed thousands of Americans and followed them over a span of 24 years.
The pattern was clear–people tend to date similarly to how their parents dated.
“It could be that mothers who have more partners don’t have great relationship skills, or don’t deal with conflict well, or have mental-health problems, each of which can undermine relationships and lead to instability,” Claire Kamp Dush, the lead author of the study and an associate professor of human sciences at Ohio State University, said about the study.
“Whatever the exact mechanisms, they may pass these characteristics on to their children, making their children’s relationships less stable.”
Research surrounding the children of divorce echoes this pattern, with many kids growing up to become divorced themselves due to a low level of commitment when they enter their partnership, The Atlantic reports. But this research is in indication that the lasting affects of broken homes extends far beyond divorce.
“It’s not just divorce now,” Kamp Dush said. “Many children are seeing their parents divorce, start new cohabiting relationships, and having those end as well.”
Perhaps recognizing the pattern is exactly how we can break them. Even though studies may have found correlations between our mother’s dating decisions and our own, it doesn’t mean that we are destined to have the same relationship experiences. Free will is still involved. With the help of a psychologist or therapy, a person could really dive into why they make the relational decisions they make to lay the groundwork for a more committed future (if that’s what they want, of course.)