How Your Childhood Experiences Define Your Adult Love Styles

We all are the outcome of how we were mould in our childhood.

Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.
― Sigmund Freud

As adults, we often think our life is in our own hands. That we are living exactly how we have always wanted to and are going to chase our dreams in the process too.

Many of us, however, forget that the childhood we lived may still be lurking in the shadows, behind the guise of a fully functioning adult.

Why would that happen, you would ask?

The simple reason behind this phenomenon is the fact that childhood is our earliest state of development. While it has many stages incorporated into it, and at each stage our life may have seemed different from the others, the way we absorb information and process the environment around us, have their first roots in childhood.

This brings us to the concept of “love styles” created by Kay and Milan Yerkovich, family therapist and counsellor respectively, in order to magnify the view of our childhood love patterns in context to our current adulthood.

The Yerkovichs found the basis of their five “love styles” in the critically famous attachment theory exploring the nuances of how an adult received and experienced love as a child and the impact of the same.

As you might already know, attachment theory that was worked on by psychologist Mary Ainsworth, talks about different forms of attachment styles.

They are:

  • Insecure Avoidant attachment style,
  • Secure attachment style and
  • Insecure Ambivalent or Resistant attachment style

So what are these “love styles” and which one do you feel most resonate with you?


1. The Pleaser

If you’re a pleaser, your style would be to stay as a non-confrontational and “sweet” partner, someone who is continually adjusting and as the name suggests, is keen to please everyone involved.

This style of course is an outcome of certain conditioning that you may have had gone through in early infancy and childhood. Almost invariably, pleasers grow up among parental distress where parents are either over-critical or driven by anxiety or stress. There’s also a likelihood that they grow up among bullying and domineering siblings.

Whatever the stimuli is, the pleaser looks at making themselves small in order to survive and “give” to everyone around.

During placeless times (which are inevitable given the nature of life), the pleaser becomes flush with anxiety and then work towards getting rid of the unpleasantness.

A challenge for a pleaser is to be able to meet their own authenticity and acknowledge real problems exactly for what they are.


2. The Avoider

An insecure attachment style with caregivers leads the avoider to their “love style”.

As in their original childhood conditioning, this kind of a lover forms the pattern of relationships that don’t go too deep. They typically have commitment issues and for some even admitting that trust takes time and often difficult, becomes a difficult admission.

The Avoider “love style” is also a lot about intellectualisation of life itself and might be a bad fit for any situation that demands high emotional intelligence.

If you resonate with this style yourself or know someone who does, please know that the real reason behind this often is a lack of emotional access during childhood, where parents may have been avoiders promoting an avoidant style in the child quite unconsciously.

This may have made someone who follows this style independent, with a real need to be by themselves and not giving or seeking physical touch or comfort.

Sunanda Pati
Sunanda Pati is a certified expressive arts therapist and facilitator and a freelance creative writer. Having developed an early interest in psychology and later various forms of bodywork, she has actively worked in knowing her own inner world and processing various traumas. She believes every person is blessed with an endless reserve of inspiration, courage and wisdom. Sunanda lives, writes, practices and facilitates in Bangalore, India. More of her writings can be found at : She also runs an expressive arts initiative of the same name (Gaia Comes to the City), which can be found on Facebook.
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