2011-03-07

How you handle conflict might be determined in early childhood

The article “Early Attachment May Affect Our Ability to Resolve Conflict in Relationships” describes that early attachment (the relationship you had with your parents as an infant) determines how well you handle conflict later on. Interestingly, handling conflict well is not about avoiding it, but about letting go after it happens. It makes sense that being clingy with people would imply being clingy with thoughts and emotions. The article describes a lab experiment:
Couples were asked to discuss something they disagreed on, and then they were given a cool-down period, talking about something they both liked. [...] Some couples, no matter how intense the fighting, could very easily transition to a happy conversation, where as other couples—could be one or both individuals—seemed stuck on the disagreement and were incapable of moving on.

Researchers studied subject histories and found that those who were securely attached to their caregivers during infancy were better at recovering from fights 20 years later.
If you weren’t securely attached, you should probably look for a partner who was. Otherwise there is a risk of both parties perpetuating childhood patterns.

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