How do the attachments to parents affect romantic relationships?

Significant psychological, cognitive, and social transitions occur during adolescence. During the stage of puberty, adolescents experience internal, both hormonal and neural as well as external changes such as physical development. Moreover, they experience differences in decision-making, self-control, and emotional regulation skills.

Sheffield Morris et al., 2007, Calkins and Leerkes, 2011 have underlined the key role that parents play in the emotional regulation of their children. Secure bonds between children and their caregivers promote the development of characteristics such as self-esteem or emotion regulation. On the other hand, distrust, anger and insecurity in relationships with other people are some of the effects caused in children by insecure relationships with the caregivers.


Due to the physical and cognitive changes that affect the adolescents' social life, they begin to transfer the functions of attachment to peers. Therefore, teenagers try to distance themselves from their early attachment figures and rely mainly on their peer groups. Usually, teenagers are focused on maintaining non-kin relationships such as friendships or romantic relationships.

However the children's' relationships with their family function as strong predictors of the types of romantic or friendly relationships in the future. The regulation of emotions originates not only from biological and psychological factors but also from the influence of parents and other social figures.


A secure attachment style could promote more intimacy in romantic relationships, while an insecure attachment style could be correlated with less positive romantic relationships in adulthood. Moreover, individuals with an insecure attachment to their parents worried more about their partner’s availability. People who had insecure attachments with their mother in childhood show insecure attachments to their partners. Whereas, an insecure attachment with one’s father is associated with an insecure attachment with friends.


High levels of emotional responsiveness, that is caused by an inability to regulate emotions, predict aggressive behaviours during childhood. The high levels of emotional responsiveness can also predict aggressive, socially deviant and anti-social behaviours during adolescence and adulthood. Whereas, according to Karakurt et al., 2013, insecure attachment to one’s parents has a significant role in eliciting aggression in adolescents.


For male adolescents, an insecure father-child attachment style seems to be associated with higher levels of anxiety and avoidance in romantic attachments and thus with aggression. For female adolescents, an insecure mother-child attachment style seems to be directly associated with higher levels of aggression.

Source: The Mediating Role of Romantic Attachment in the Relationship Between Attachment to Parents and Aggression.
Santona et al. 2019
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