Science says your mum is to blame if you have bad relationships

Unhappy in love? Blame your mum! [Photo: Getty]

There are many things you might have wanted to blame your mum for as an angsty teen, but while she likely isn’t responsible for ‘ruining your life’ she may have had an impact on your love life.

A new study, published Nov. 13 in the journal PLoS One, has linked the number of partners an adult has to their mother’s relationship history.

The research, using data on thousands of people spanning decades, found that for every additional relationship a mother had, the number of partners their children had increased by an average of 6 per cent.

So essentially, if your mum’s dating history was, er patchy, you’re more likely to experience something similar. Thanks, Mum!

For the study researchers analysed data from national surveys of youth, which follow participants for at least 24 years. They tracked 7,152 people and their biological mothers in terms of marriage, divorce, cohabiting relationships, and breakups.

The results revealed that both the number of marriages and the number of cohabiting partners a mother had a link to how many partners their children had.

Previous research has revealed that children of parents who divorce are more likely to divorce themselves compared to those whose mother and father stay married, but this latest research widened the picture.

“It’s not just divorce now – many children are seeing their parents divorce, start new cohabiting relationships, and having those end as well,” said Professor Claire Kamp Dush, who led the research.

“All of these relationships can influence children’s outcomes, as we see in this study.”

The study also revealed that people who were exposed to mothers’ cohabitation for longer stretches had more romantic partners than siblings who were exposed to less cohabitation.

“You may see cohabitation as an attractive, lower-commitment type of relationship if you’ve seen your mother in such a relationship for a longer time,” Kamp Dush said.

“That may lead to more partners since cohabiting relationships are more likely to break-up.”

There’s a link between the number of partners your mother had and your own relationship history [Photo: Getty]

As for the reason for the relationship inheritance, scientists believe this could be down to learning, or indeed failing to learn, relationship skills from your mother.

“It could be that mothers who have more partners don’t have great relationship skills, or don’t deal with conflict well, or have mental health problems, each of which can undermine relationships and lead to instability,” Professor Dush explained.

“Whatever the exact mechanisms, they may pass these characteristics on to their children, making their children’s relationships less stable.”

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