• Ma'ayan Greenbaum

The surprising ways your childhood relationship-patterning may be playing out today

Updated: May 24, 2019

Our first intimacies with our parents imprinted us with fundamental lessons about who we are at our core and what it takes to successfully navigate relationships (including, our relationship with ourselves!)


For example:

As babies we cried, cooed, smiled, gazed, arched our backs in protest or clutched on to our parents or caregivers for protection, care and connection. At any given moment, our mother or father may have been available, emotionally attuned and curious about our inner reality, able to soothe our distress and take pleasure in being with us.


However, being that they are human our parents’ own internal resources, limitations and trauma may have also led them to respond inconsistently, in ways that inevitably frustrated or even terrified us.


These early repeated experiences (reaching for connection, being responded to, or recovering from disconnection) inform our most basic assumptions about what it takes to sustain a close-relationship. We unknowingly carry these relationship-templates forward into our adult intimate relationship with our current partner.


For example:

  • Whether we must amplify (or minimize) feelings in order to preserve connection

  • Whether our upsets (and therefore, we) are “too-much”, burdensome or inconsolable.

  • Whether we can expect our loved one will take us and our reality seriously

  • Whether it’s safe to be angry with the person we love

  • Whether it’s possible to be distinct individuals & still be a “we” with a sense of belonging

  • How responsible vs. carefree or wild we can be

  • How self-reliant vs. dependent we must be to keep our loved one close by

  • Whether it’s safe to “look-away” from our partner and lose ourselves for a while

  • Whether it’s safe to experience pleasure in our loved-one’s presence

  • Whether we can expect to be neglected, or intruded upon (or both)

  • Whether touch is soothing, exciting, and/or dangerous …. etc.



If you feel called to reflect upon your own early experience of connection and disconnection with your parent/s, you may want to journal, meditate or feel into these memories in your body. Which ones resonate most? What do you imagine you gleaned as a child when it comes to sustaining closeness with the one you love? How might these assumptions be playing out in your adult intimate relationship today?


These are some of the powerful themes we discuss regularly in my facebook group, ‘Couples Creating Conscious Connection’. I’d be honored if you joined our community here.

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Dr. Ma’ayan Greenbaum is a NJ and NY licensed clinical psychologist. Her psychotherapy practice in Livingston, NJ is dedicated to working within the interfacing spheres of relationships, sexuality, fertility and parenthood.

124 East Mt Pleasant Avenue, Livingston, NJ 07039

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