It Makes Sense Why My Dating Life Is In Shambles Considering I Came From A Broken Family

As a millennial, I feel like it’s pretty common to have come from a broken family. My mom and dad divorced when I was 13 and since then, I’ve never really bounced back from it and my dating like has taken a big hit because of it.

  1. I’ve never known the feeling of safety. Imagine coming home from school and never knowing what to expect. Dad might be yelling, Mom might be crying in her bed, the whole house could be completely dark and you’re not sure whether dinner will get made on time. It’s like your whole world is suddenly on shaky ground and you have nothing to hold onto. This is the kind of mindset I take into my relationships. It always feels a little dangerous and I’m not sure if I’ll ever feel secure in it.
  2. My parents always yelled at me, making me unable to handle conflict in adulthood. Coming from a broken family, yelling was a very common thing. Surprisingly though, I never got used to it. In fact, I tend to shut down at any sign of conflict even if my partner is only a little bit mad about something silly. I still react as if it’s way worse, I guess because I know how bad it can get.
  3. I have a really hard time trusting the person I’m with. My trust in my family was broken at a very young age and now that I’m an adult, I just can’t seem to shake it. I thought I had security with my family but that all got ripped away. Nowadays, whenever I’m in a relationship, I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
  4. The second things get serious, I run. Funny enough, when things start feeling secure and comfortable with my significant other, I get scared that it’s all going to explode and run away. I can’t help it — I get worried we’re just going to end up like my broken family and I really don’t want to live through that mess again.
  5. All of the guys I date remind me of my dad who left us. If my partner does anything that reminds me of my dad, even of it’s in a really small way, I instantly start to panic inside. It’s completely subconscious, but I guess I just try to make sure I steer clear of the avoidant/distant types.
  6. I assume things will fall apart even when they’re going well. It doesn’t matter how well my relationship is going. We could be living together, seemingly happy, maybe we even have a dog — I’ll still get paranoid. Even if I get engaged, I’ll always have that lingering doubt that I don’t deserve a happy and fulfilling relationship.
  7. I’m extra careful not to “mess it up.” Since my family life was a total disaster, I do everything I can to make sure I don’t create the same dynamic in my adult life. This makes me an anxious and sometimes overbearing lover. It can definitely drive guys away undoubtedly has in the past.
  8. I don’t have any good references for “real love.” I pretty much experienced the polar opposite of love growing up, so how can I be expected to maintain a proper relationship now that I’m in my 20s? Sure, I can go off of what I see on TV or how other couples act, but we all know that couples put on a front when they’re out in public, so I don’t know what a real, healthy relationship looks like.
  9. My standards are way lower than they should be. I seem to think I deserve a low to average kinda guy — you know, the kind of guy who doesn’t really care about your feelings but will stay with you because he has nothing better to do. I tend to attract deadbeats and losers because those are the kind of guys who make sense to me. I always see to end up with this type and I sincerely believe it’s because I don’t know any better.
  10. My breakups ruin me. I know that most people don’t take breakups well, but I seem to take it to a whole new level. I’ll be upset about it for months on end. I can’t just shake it off and get drunk. I take a really long time to bounce back and I’m pretty sure that it’s because I’m reliving the trauma that was my parents’ divorce.
  11. I spend a lot of time being single. I’d rather be alone than be in relationships that could potentially hurt me. There’s too much at stake, so when I don’t think things are going to work out in the early stages, I get the hell out of there and go back to spending time alone.
  12. I never can accept it’s real. I have a hard time believing that whatever I have with my boyfriend is real. I have this perspective that it’s just for fun, or that there’s no point in staying together because what we have is just a temporary fling even though it’s been three years.
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.