Did our parents mess up our love lives?

Hi guys,

I don’t know if you’re like me but I’ve always found it difficult to express myself when it comes to my emotions and feelings; most especially in romantic relationships.

The other day, I was having a group conversation with my friends and it turns out many of us are in this boat.

We’re the ones who find it very difficult to say “I love you”, “I miss you” or anything remotely emotional.

We’re the ones who aren’t “romantic”.

We’re the ones who seem too “strong for love”.

We’re the ones whom our partners think can/should be more lovey-dovey.

As my friend said, we’re the ones whose significant other will say something cute to and we’ll reply with “ode” or “olodo”.

It’s not like we don’t want to; it’s just not the way we’re wired.

But as we discussed this further in the group, we found ourselves concluding that maybe it’s not about our natural wiring but more about our upbringing.

Raise your hand if you find it weird to be lovey-dovey with your parents. (I have both hands in the air)

Side bar: I will use a lot of “we” and “our” in this post but you can ignore me if it doesn’t apply to you; I really don’t have the intention of generalising and I know not everyone will relate.

I definitely believe that our parents just may have messed us up emotionally.

(Don’t even get me started on how we had to refrain from talking to the opposite sex for the longest time and then all of a sudden, they want you to provide a spouse. That’s not what this post is about.)

You watch American movies and you see the kid, who’s heading out to school, kiss each parent and say “love you!” and the parents say “love you more” and the kid runs to the school bus. Or the kid comes home sad with his report card and his mum says “it’s okay, honey. You’ll get ‘em next time”. Or the kid is on the football field and misses a goal but his dad screams “Good job son! Just have fun. I’m so proud of you”.

Did you guys have that?

I don’t think I did! This does not mean that I had a shitty childhood or anything.

But I think that many of us weren’t brought up around this kind of expressive emotions. I may be wrong.

Our parents expressing love meant we got a new pair of shoes as opposed to getting hugs and kisses and well-done-honey-you-were-amazing-and-I-am-so-proud-of-you.

The way we were brought up definitely instilled good behaviour in us. We had strict love; love that didn’t necessarily tell you it loved you. I think our parents were scared to spoil us. But did they show us too much strict and too little love? Just maybe.

We knew they loved us; of course they did. But we didn’t hear it so much.

I really think that this upbringing is what has affected those of us who find it hard to be expressive with our emotions in relationships – both friendships and romantic relationships.

I hope that we break the cycle and be expressive and outwardly and openly supportive and loving to our children.

Do you find it easy or difficult to express your emotions and feelings? Please share!


14 thoughts on “Did our parents mess up our love lives?

  1. I think you’re right.

    I think most of how we act as adults somehow reflects how it was for us as kids.

    Lol for me there was no running down from a school bus and all of that but my parents would always tell me “hawa, I love you. Any other person saying the same thing is lying”

    My dad will play jazz music and waltz with my mum while we watch.

    I’m a very expressive person. But before I express myself, i pay attention to the other person and how the person may react. Why? I won’t want a situation where I’d say “Jennifer you’re a great person and I love you” then you’d respond with “ode” or “that’s so gay” 😂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha!
      It makes sense to pay attention to the other person’s potential reaction before expressing yourself before you go and collect hot ela. However, I also find that expressing yourself regardless of your fear of how the other person may react, sometimes turns out positively.
      So you’re saying our adult actions tend to be a reflection of our childhood experiences: This makes perfect sense!
      Thanks for sharing your insightful comment!


  2. This is nice and yeah… going down memory lane; I do not think my mum or dad really used the line “I love you son”; but in weird ways thry showed it especially how much they trust and have strong believe in me.

    The truth is… all that did not get to me. I am shy, but still quick to say how much I love someone and express myself clearly. When I miss my peeps I sound it without hoping to get same reply and when I love…. I love and let them know.

    Maybe we are all wired differently regardless of our parents impact… but one thing is certain; their impact(s) may show in other part of ones life. Just maybe not how emotional and expressive I am.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love how you’re quick to express your emotions and reach out to your loved ones.
      Maybe we’re all wired differently regardless of our parents’ impact? Hmmm, totally makes sense.
      Thanks for sharing!


  3. Yessss!!! I think my upbringing influenced me a great deal but I’m not totally putting the blame on my folks, heck its how they were brought up! But i don’t want this to go on so im consciously and hopelessly a lover boy, might suck a times cuz the person getting all the love might awkwardly react cuz she from similar upbringing but we die here… The american film scenario killed me hahaha… Great read!

    Liked by 1 person

    • New perspective – it’s how they were brought up too. Didn’t think about that.
      Love how you’re consciously making an effort to express your emotions; I should take a page out of your book.
      Lmao at “we die here”!
      Thanks for your awesome comment!


  4. Hi Jennifer!!!! You’re right about upbringing and all. My father said I love yous’ when he wrote us letters. 🙂 I went to a boarding school. A lot of times how you know your parents actually came visiting was through the notes they left with your guardian. Lol.

    But I think that in the spirit of unlearning the bad like the one sided lessons we had, if any at all, on sex, we need to strive to unlearn habits that don’t bring us the kind of relationships we want. Including being inexpressive.

    Also, I think it is important to learn what medium of communication works best for you and to find a partner who appreciates that and understands when you communicate using that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your comment is full of gems!
      Yes to unlearning habits that don’t bring us the kind of relationships we want.
      And yes to learning to be more expressive, finding your ideal medium of communication and a partner who understands.
      Thanks so much for your insight!


  5. My God 🙅🙅🙌 this is apt. Although my mum said I love you often but dad will alway buy groundnut candy & Ice cream to say his 😂😂😅. The good thing is we now know better and deliberate attempt to emotional expression should be made so our kids don’t say ‘ode’ when they hear I love you. Good write up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha! Yes to making sure our kids don’t say “ode” when they hear “I love you”!
      I guess some of our parents knew how to show love better than they could say it. That was their love language, I guess.
      Thank God we now know the importance of both showing and saying it.
      Thanks for your comment!


  6. Oh you’re spot on with this post!

    My parents have never told me they love me(me neither) but I know the do.

    I find it difficult expressing myself too.
    One time a friend ended a phone conversation with I love you and I hurriedly ended the call.. It felt awkward n weird hearing that.

    Well, I’m getting better these days. Cos I want to be better for my kids.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally feel you! When I hear my mum occasionally say I love you, it’s weird and even weirder saying it back.
      Well done on getting better; it can be so so difficult to express oneself but we have to try and be better.
      Thank you for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Funny enough, I was also brought up that way but I find that I express love easily…. it hasn’t always been like this and it wasn’t easy at first but I preferred the ‘lovey dovey’ me and stuck with it…
    it’s still a bit weird sometimes…. I won’t lie…. and I have sworn not to do same with my kids by Gods Grace!


  8. Though mine was the opposite, the post is the absolute truth. The way we view relationships and ourselves in them has a lot to do with the first relationships we encountered in life.

    Lovely read.


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