How Your Childhood Experiences Define Your Adult Love Styles

3. The Vacillator

Unpredictability is the theme behind the vacillator style, where the latter usually has a parent that they don’t know where they stand with. In time, the parent does come around and becomes more ready to be affectionate.

However, by that point, the child gives up, tired of waiting, and may suddenly experience a surge of anger at the parent’s changed behaviour.

This kind of a developmental arc makes the inner lives of vacillators challenging and unsafe.

This may predispose them to external conflicts as well and sometimes, they wouldn’t even know why they are sabotaging a conversation or a relationship.

The biggest pain point of a vacillator is the feeling that no one really gets them for who they are. This relates directly back to their early experience of needing emotional connection and not finding any. People in relationship with vacillators may feel like they can’t be themselves, lest trouble breaks out.


4. The Victim

In a wildly chaotic home environment, filled with abuse, neglect and lack of communication, the first roots if the victim love style are born.

Anyone whose patterns in relationship resemble that of the victim, would fall into equations of power struggle. Victims tend to get attracted and also attract controlling people, because of their own lack of self-worth and an inability to negotiate those feelings.

The consistent theme for the victim is to gulp down their own feelings and keep the peace, while getting charred by internalized anger.

People who get drawn to victims initially are charmed by the way the latter flow, but in time realise that this is more because of innate helplessness than agreement.

This love style can create irritation and disgust in the partner, triggered primarily by the streak of helplessness (which can then remind them of their own childhood, albeit unconsciously). 


5. The Controller

An antithesis of the victim is the controller. If the victim is always about giving up their own power, the controller is about taking it, whatever the cost. 

This love style, like that of the victim, also comes ridden with conflict and chaos and its roots lie in a past where the child had to buckle up. This is in conflict with the basic need of a child, which is to feel safe and loved.

Controllers find it easier to leave their feelings aside and show up as “strong” people. They are resistant to showing themselves as vulnerable people, for the simple reason that they equate vulnerability with weakness.

In the long run, the pattern of toughening up as a child reveals itself as a constant power play with the partner, where the latter may often end up feeling abused. 

Being aware of one’s own love style can be revealing to the least.

It is not easy to make changes in adult relationships. Hopefully when you have a sense of where your current struggles might have their seeds, you’ll be in a position to do something about it.

Working by yourself and working alongside a partner (who is all probability has a different love style) are both options you can explore.


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Image credit

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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