Discuss the Influence of Childhood on Adult Relationships

Expectations of later relationships can be a continuation of early attachment styles, as the behaviour of the infant's primary attachment figure promotes an internal working model of relationships which leads the infant to expect the same in later relationships. Expectations of sexuality are also learned in relation to early attachment; for example individuals who had an avoidant attachment are more likely to seek sex without love.

In some cases, a child's internal working model can lead them to develop an attachment disorder. These individuals experienced abuse or neglect in childhood, and as a result they resist or reject intimacy in adult relationships. Their adult relationships may also involve a lack of responsiveness or excessive over-familiarity.

Early relationships with peers can also influence later adult relationships. Close friendships in childhood are often categorised by affection, a sense of alliance & intimacy, and the sharing of personal information. The experience of having friends to confide in promotes feelings of trust, acceptance and a sense of being understood - characteristics that are also important in later adult relationships.

In later childhood, particularly adolescence, attachment usually shifts from parents to peers. With this shift, adolescents can redirect interpersonal energy towards romantic partners. These early romantic relationships allow adolescents to gain experience with a new kind of emotional & physical intimacy. However, Madsen found that adolescents with heavy dating frequency generally had poorer quality young adult relationships, showing that too much dating in adolescents can be maladaptive.

Research has supported the link between early attachment style and success in later relationships.Fraley conducted a meta-analysis of studies found correlations from 0.1 to 0.5 between attachment type and later relationships, demonstrating a fairly strong link. The links between some attachment types (e.g....