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Call: (347) 631 8350 Virtual and In Person Therapy in NY

How Growing Up in an Addicted Home Affects Dating
family eating dinner

Relationship woes can often indirectly stem from patterns and dynamics with our parents or family members—how we are raised as children shapes who we become in adulthood. No one’s childhood is perfect, but children growing up in an addicted home face additional challenges. When it comes time to begin forming their own intimate relationships, it can be more complex than the average person. Here are considerations that can help lead to healthier dating habits.

The Experience May Be Unique…And Not Understood

If you grew up in an addicted home, your lived experience will likely differ from most others around you. And that’s ok! But it is important to acknowledge and remember that others may not fully understand that part of you because they haven’t lived it.

Communication is important in any relationship, and a painful past can negatively impact that if not addressed. Whether your memories are painful or you don’t want to rehash old wounds, sharing with your partner can lead to difficulties. Maybe you can’t find the right words, or it is hard to paint a full picture. Explain this to your partner so they know you care but are struggling.

Striving For Satisfaction

An addicted home can be a roller coaster of emotions. One minute you’re being praised as a child; the next, you’re being ignored (or worse). Over the years, it becomes a search for elusive satisfaction, often resulting in a lack of confidence. This can be with yourself or with another person. When it comes to having a supportive partner, you may be so unfamiliar with that concept that it poses a problem that isn’t even existent or doesn’t need to be. The struggle for personal satisfaction may never be fully resolved on its own, but being open in communication with your partner can help. And there are resources out there for them, too, on how to handle this dynamic on their end.

Delayed Understanding For Normalcy

To the average person, growing up in a functional household is normal. Let’s call it that for convenience. Growing up in an addicted home, however, can make life fraught and unpredictable. You may have experienced unhealthy family dynamics, an unstable support system, or possibly even abuse. As an adult, you are granted a blank slate and get the chance to experience new, healthy alternatives to home life. There will likely be an adjustment period to what is normal, especially when it comes to dating.

Depending on your experiences growing up, certain dating activities can also trigger events resulting in unpleasant dates or interactions. Was alcohol a factor? Being around a bar scene may not be for you. Was family dinner time pure chaos? Cooking dinner with a date can bring up some unpleasant memories. These are all things to think about and discuss when you’re comfortable.

Need For Reinforcement

Living in an addicted home for any length of time leads to a learned thought process that your needs will never be fully met in that environment. You become a professional at the pretending game, and you are an expert at reading a room and knowing how to respond based on the emotional climate.

As an adult, you may need to hear praise and reassurance more than the average person. Those insecurities and wounds run deep. There’s an underlying, subconscious thought that your partner will let you down just like your parents/family did. Unfortunately, they may need to provide you with a little extra TLC than they are aware of.

Know you aren’t alone. Reversing the effects of addicted home life can be tough, but it isn’t impossible. If this has been your experience, contact me to learn more about how relationship counseling can help support you.

Therapy with Shanni

Offering Virtual Therapy Throughout New York and In Person Therapy on the Upper West Side, NYC.

110 W96th St Suite 1D, New York, NY 10025 (Tuesdays & Fridays)
Call: (347) 631 8350
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