Tell Me About Your Mother

men and their relationships with mothersWhen one thinks of psychology, many people consider  Sigmund Freud and his methods of psychoanalysis. Although Freud’s methods are still somewhat seen in modern day psychiatry, people don’t really think about him in reference to dating advice. However, recent research proves it may be useful to keep some of his ideas in mind when looking for that special someone.

A study out of the University of Reading found that the attachment style between a male baby/toddler and his mother could lead to behavior problems later on in his school-age years. Boys who were comforted by their mothers when upset or crying would build upon that by using their parent as a “secure base,” where they could stabilize emotions and bounce back after being emotionally hurt. These boys were less likely to show aggressive behavior later in childhood, whereas boys who had parents who stressed independence or were inconsistent in comforting were more likely to not play well with others, show physical aggression, and disobey rules.

Girls, on the other hand, were not found to be any more aggressive or problematic due to poor attachment and comforting by their mothers. The researchers explain that girls may react differently, by turning those feelings inward rather than into physical aggression. This could result in depression, anxiety, or even seclusion from their peers.

Another recent study found that the relationship between a young teen (under age 14) and their mother was found to significantly affect their romantic partnerships 10 years later. The mothers of the children were asked to rate themselves in terms of how warm and close they were with that child. Ten years later the children of those mothers were asked to rate how happy they were in current romantic relationships, and how often they fought with significant others. Researchers found that teens whose mothers were warmer and closer to them would grow up to have happier relationships and less conflict with their significant others.

Both studies show that the relationship you have with your mother during those formative years can have drastic effects on what kind of person you will become, and how you form and maintain romantic relationships. A person who had a really caring, nurturing mother is more likely to be able to develop those same types of relationships as an adult. So next time you’re on a date, you may want to channel your inner Sigmund Freud, lay them down on a couch, and say, “Tell me about your mother.”


Fearon, R. P, Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., Van IJzendoorn, M. H., Lapsley, A., & Roisman, G. I. The significance of insecure attachment and disorganization in the development of children’s externalizing behavior: A meta-analytic study. Child Development, 81, 435-456.

Linver, M. R., Gager, C. T., Plieger, J., & Yabiku, S. (2010, May). Adolescent-parent relationships and young adult romantic relationship quality 10 Years Later:  Adolescent stage as moderator, Poster presented at the Annual Meetings of the American Psychological Society: Boston, MA.

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