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Blame parents for commitmentphobia

Jerusalem, Dec 11, 2012, PTI: 22:17 IST
If you are afraid to commit to a relationship, your parents and unfulfilled childhood needs could be to blame, according to a new research.

Researchers from the Tel Aviv University found that reluctance to commit to a partner could be the result of unresponsive and over-intrusive parenting.

“A study of the romantic history of 58 adults aged 22-28 found that those who
avoid committed romantic relationships are likely a product of unresponsive or over-intrusive parenting,” said Dr Sharon Dekel, a psychologist and researcher at the Bob Shapell School of Social Work.

Researchers found that 22.4 per cent of study participants could be categorised as “avoidant” when it came to their relationships, demonstrating anxiety about intimacy, reluctance to commit to or share with their partner, or a belief that their partner was “clingy”, for example.

Overall, they reported less personal satisfaction in their relationships than participants who were determined to be secure in their relationships.

The goal of the study was to address the widespread research debate on “avoidant attachment” - whether such behaviour is due to innate personality traits, such as being more of a loner, or is a delayed reaction to unmet childhood needs.

Researchers found that while both secure and avoidant individuals expressed a desire for intimacy in relationships, avoidant individuals are conflicted about this need due to the complicated parent-child dynamics they experienced when young. The premise of their study is based on attachment theory, which posits that during times of stress, infants seek proximity to their caregivers for emotional support, Dekel said.

However, if the parent is unresponsive or overly intrusive, the child learns to avoid their caregiver. The researchers believe that adult relationships reflect these earlier experiences. When infantile needs are met in childhood, that person approaches adult relationships with more security, seeking intimacy, sharing, caring, and fun, said Dekel.

The tendency to avoid dependence on a partner is a defense mechanism rather than an avoidance of intimacy.

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