10 Ways Dating And Relationships Change When You’re A Child Of Divorce

Going through your parents’ divorce was hard, sure, but you never could’ve predicted how much of a negative effect it would have on your dating life and general behavior in relationships as you’ve gotten older. You probably have many of the following problems—and who could blame you?

  1. You have trust issues out the wazoo. You may act like you trust your boyfriend and even try to convince yourself you really do, but underneath your cool exterior is a paranoid freak. You can’t be so sure that he really loves you the way he says he does because as you learned at a very young age, people change. Your parents showed you how true that can be and now the permanent default is suspicion and distrust.
  2. You’re either really clingy or really distant. Your unstable family unit either taught you to be heavily dependent on people or to learn to live without them. As a child of divorce, you figured that your parents don’t love you enough to stay together so you took that and figured out a way to never get hurt again. The solution is to either be overly anxious or avoidant about love. Ugh.
  3. You don’t handle fights very well. Fights, even over simple things like keeping the counter clean, can be incredibly stressful for you. It just reminds you of all the times your parents fought while you listened in tears from behind your bedroom door. The second a fight breaks out, you run for cover like a scared little kid. Logical, grounded conversations are all you can handle emotionally.
  4. You see your relationship as half empty instead of half full. You’ve been taught that things don’t usually work out, so it doesn’t even cross your mind that your relationship is going well. It’s always a work in progress or there’s always some problem going on. You might say it’s all going well to appease people, but you’re really just lying through your teeth.
  5. You always assume the worst of your partner. If he’s late coming home, you immediately jump to “he must be cheating” or “he’s planning on breaking up with me.” It’s always the worst case scenario because you’ve LIVED it. He hasn’t even done anything wrong but you’ve been taught that love will eventually disappoint and you’re just waiting for him to mess it all up.
  6. You still cry when you see TV shows/movies about divorce. Any scene where parents are fighting in front of kids is enough to make you start balling. It doesn’t take much to sweep you back to that time when your whole house felt like a battle zone. Your boyfriend doesn’t understand how painful that time was for you—all he can do is make sure you don’t come across anything that even remotely reminds you of it.
  7. You struggle with anxiety, depression, or both due to the trauma of the divorce. You never realized how much the divorce affected you until you developed life-long symptoms of anxiety and depression because of it. It was a huge shock when your whole world from what you knew from birth came crumbling down. Now the world seems a little bleaker and you may even have to take meds to keep you feeling okay.
  8. You started dating later on in life. When your parents split, it shook you. You weren’t sure if you can trust the people who want to date you, so you avoided anything having to do with love and romance for a while. It wasn’t until early adulthood that you finally decided to bite the bullet and dive into the dating world, as scary as it seemed at the time.
  9. At your deepest core, you don’t believe that true love is going to happen for you. You know you’ll probably get married and have a stable life partner for most of your life, but whether or not it will be out of love is highly debatable. You hear that love is a real thing from books, movies, and TV… but you just can’t accept that it will happen for you.
  10. You have separation anxiety. You go a little nuts when you’re away from your boyfriend for too long and it’s not because your love for him is so incredibly strong—it’s because him leaving you reminds you of either your mom or dad leaving you as a child. Even leaving a job is hard for you because you’re being separated from the group and that’s really scary for you.
  11. You don’t want to end up like your parents, but at the same time you know it’s inevitable. You made a promise to yourself that you aren’t going to end up in a broken marriage like your parents. You think about it constantly and even get a little excited when you think of it. However, there’s also apart of you that thinks, “If it happened to them, it’ll probably happen to me,” so you never get TOO excited.
Jennifer is a playwright, dancer, and theatre nerd living in the big city of Toronto, Canada. She studied Creative Writing at Concordia University and works as a lifestyle writer who focuses on Health, B2B, Tech, Psychology, Science, Food Trends and Millennial Life. She's also a coreographer, playwright, and lyricist, with choreography credits for McMaster University’s “Spring Awakening,” “Roxanne” for the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival, and “The Beaver Den” for The LOT, among others.

You can see more of her work on her Contently page and follow her on Instagram @jenniferenchin.