Divorce and child custody scissors cutting family apart

Getting Married as a Child of Divorce


If you are the child of divorced parents,  you might think about marriage differently than your peers growing up. The divorce rate hit an all-time in the 1980s when it was almost 50%. But now that Millennials, who were born between 1980-1996, are products of that statistic, they view marriage differently than their parents. The divorce rate is now decreasing and it is hovering around 40% thanks mostly in part to Millennials and their marrying habits.  Millennials are getting divorced less because less of them are getting married. There is a reason chick flicks and rom-coms are so popular, and it’s because we want to believe in the possibility that true love exists. But in reality, growing up with divorced parents can make you behave differently in relationships. Many thought pieces have been written about how children of divorced parents approach relationships, but here are some of the common traits:

Overly Cautious

While some people love to throw themselves into a whirlwind relationship, children who grew up with divorced parents might hold onto caution and not throw it to the wind. They are wary about who they date, who they say “I love you” to and who they get into long term relationships with. Because they don’t believe that relationships will end in happy ever after, they can’t just sit on the sideline and let the relationship take its course, they tend to overanalyze everything. The benefit is that they have realistic expectations of love. They know that it takes effort between two people, and they are willing to wait to marry the person they are sure is right for them.

Separation Anxiety

While this is a generalization, it is worth noting that some people may experience some form of separation anxiety as a result of their parent’s divorce. This may result that they overly clingy with partners or they may seem very aloof in order not to get attached. This can be particularly hard especially when just dating around, but with therapy and self-reflection, people can recognize negative behaviors that can be acknowledged and changed over time.

Relationship crisis in bed with feeling of guilt

Fall in Love with their Parents

If the only example they had growing up of a relationship was a tumultuous one, there is a very high likelihood that they will fall in love with someone who can give them that same relationship. As humans, we learn the meaning of love from our parents, so if our parent’s love comes with conditions, then we will tend to look for those same conditions in our partners. If, for instance, you have a loving father but he is very needy, then you will grow up believing that someone expresses love by needing you all the time even if you didn’t like that trait in your father. It can be hard to recognize the same flaws in your potential partner that are similar to your parents, and sometimes they aren’t there at all, but they can cause long term problems.

Humans will always be flawed, its in our nature. Having a high divorce rate or a low divorce rate does not mean that one generation is better than the other, or that couples are doomed from the start. But if you did grow up with divorced parents, you might notice that you don’t relate to hopeless romantics as much as you would like to.  Love and relationship have been studied by psychologists for a very long time, but people’s individual needs and wants will always vary from relationship to relationship.