Personal Relationships a new survey focuses on the relationship between parental rejection and fear of intimacy in adult relationships. The findings suggest that adults who report more parental rejection are more likely to have difficulties with their romantic relationships in adulthood.
Adults who have had difficult childhoods often have challenges in their adult relationships. Our experiences and relationships during our formative years can have a significant impact on our ability to build connections with others in adulthood. Individuals who have gone through bad childhood experiences, such as abuse, neglect, or unstable family environments, may have different difficulties in establishing and maintaining strong relationships.
These difficulties may include issues related to trust, intimacy, emotional vulnerability, conflict management, and emotional well-being. The effect of challenging childhoods on adult relationships is a complex research area.
The IPARTheory, an interpersonal acceptance-rejection model, is an attempt to understand the factors that might lead to difficult relationships in adulthood. The authors of a new study sought to test the validity of this hypothesis.
Between January and March 2020, 462 Turkish adults aged 18 to 72 completed questionnaires assessing childhood attachments, fear of intimacy, and psychological adjustment.
Individuals who had childhood parental disapproval were more likely to fear intimacy as adults, according to the research. Examples include: "My mother [or father] seemed to dislike me," and "I might be afraid to disclose my innermost feelings to [my partner]," as well as "I would probably feel nervous showing [my partner] strong affection."
IPARTheory's findings demonstrate that childhood rejection results in diminished self-esteem and self-assurance, a pessimistic worldview, and other personality traits previously identified within the acceptance-rejection syndrome across different countries. These personality traits impair individuals' capacity to establish deep emotional connections or intimate relationships with significant others.
"Recollections of childhood parental rejection may be internalized and contribute to psychological difficulties in adulthood, impealing the ability to embrace intimacy in present-day relationships," according to the authors.
The study's cross-sectional approach has limited its scope; without longitudinal investigation, cause and effect cannot be determined. Furthermore, the study utilized self-report measures, a technique that is susceptible to response bias.
Despite these limitations, the authors' research provides important insights on the effect of childhood rejection on adult romantic relationships in a non-Western cultural context. They argue that interventions aimed at reducing intimacy might be effective.
The authors conclude that "this study requires mental health practitioners to recognize the importance of parental and intimate partner acceptance in order to ensure intimacy for their clients who are unable to develop strong emotional bonds with intimate others."
Aysegül Arac-Iyiaydn, Ezgi Toplu-Demirtas Nazl Büşra Akçabozan-Kayabol and Ronald P. Rohner coauthored the paper.