What Dating Is Like When You Grew Up Around Unhealthy Relationships

What Dating Is Like When You Grew Up Around Unhealthy Relationships ©iStock/Jeffbergen

Not all of us were lucky enough to grow up around happy, loving couples. Some of us were stuck with divorced parents or parents who should’ve been divorced long ago. Since we’re influenced by the people around us, it can be hard to date when we’ve never seen a healthy relationship.

  1. We’re skeptical of nice men. If a man is nice to us, we’ll wonder what the catch is. We’ll assume that he’s either trying to sleep with us or scam us, because (in our minds) there’s no way that he’s being nice out of the kindness of his heart.
  2. We struggle to believe in monogamy. It’s hard to believe that two people could be loyal to each other for decades when the divorce rate is so high. Even though we want to believe in monogamy, it’s hard to do, because the couples around us never stay together for long.
  3. It takes us a while to trust someone. We know what people are capable of. That’s why it’s going to take us months, or even years, to fully trust you and open up to you.
  4. We have dangerously low expectations. We’ve never seen a couple treat each other with respect, which is why we don’t hold our men to a high standard. Even though we should expect them to cuddle with us and do favors for us, we’re happy as long as they don’t cheat on us.
  5. We don’t know how to be someone’s girlfriend. We’ve never seen a healthy relationship, so we have no idea how healthy couples deal with their problems. We only know how to scream and fight, and that’s not going to help us if we decide to date.
  6. We hold our heart back out of fear. We’ve seen family members and friends go through rough breakups, and we don’t want to follow in their footsteps. We expect every relationship to end with a broken heart, which is why we rarely date.
  7. We expect something to go wrong. Even when our relationships are going smoothly, we’ll assume that it’s only a matter of time until everything falls apart. After all, that’s what we’ve seen happen time and time again.
  8. We hope it’s not in our genes. Since our family members have a habit of lying and cheating, we’ll wonder if we’ll turn out exactly like them. We don’t want to turn into our mothers and fathers, but there’s always a chance that it’ll happen.
  9. We know all the tricks. The good thing about growing up around unhealthy relationships is that we know how to spot them. If you’re lying to us or cheating on us, you won’t be able to fool us into believing you’ve been faithful.
  10. We won’t commit unless we’re serious. We don’t really want anything to do with love. That’s why you’ll know we’re serious about you if we actually decide to take the leap and call you our boyfriend.
Holly Riordan is a writer from Long Island, New York who has authored several science fiction and horror books. A graduate of Stony Brook University, she has spent nearly a decade writing for publications including Thought Catalog, Huffington Post, Teen Vogue, and more. You can find her on Instagram @hollyrio and Twitter @hollyyrio.