Are my perfect parents ruining my love life? How your parents' relationship affects yours.

You can blame your dad for your weirdly large hands, and your mum for your inability to process dairy, but what about the reason why you’re unlucky in love ?

This Valentine’s Day and we’d like to put forward a theory we’ve been working on: If your parents have the perfect relationship – wonderfully compatible, still lovey-dovey decades later, and maybe a bit heavy on the PDA – does that mean you’re doomed to have overly-high expectations when it comes to your love life?

To see if our theory has legs, we spoke to clinical psychologist and Married at First Sight relationship expert, John Aiken, and he says the effect of your parents’ relationship on your own relationships is two-fold.

He explains that while children naturally benefit from role model parents who talk with respect, show affection and put up consistent boundaries to help them make good decisions when it comes to relationships, it could also create perfectionist tendencies.

“Some people have these relentlessly high standards and say ‘I need to try and live up to my parents’,” says Aiken.

“They become ‘perfectionistic’ and have a strong need to please because they’ve been around those great role models.”

“But it’s really up to the individual how they take these actions and values on board, and whether they do indeed influence their behaviour.”

Let’s take one of this season’s most controversial Married at First Sight couples, Sam and Elizabeth, as an example, shall we?

They both credited their parents’ long-lasting and happy partnerships as a defining reason why they entered the show.

“I’d like to have what my parents have, that’s the ultimate goal to have what my parents have,” Elizabeth said to camera, during her pre-wedding interview.


At the time, her husband-to-be (who may or may not be about to cheat on Elizabeth with fellow participant Ines) said something similar.

“My parents got together at 20 and they’ve been together ever since. That’s what I want,” he said.

MAFS’ Sam And Elizabeth talk about their parents’ relationships.

Video by Married at First Sight

Shedding light on their situation, Aiken notes they both have good relationship role models but have also, for their own individual reasons, unconsciously “created obstacles for themselves that are getting in the way of what they’re wanting”.

“They don’t have that insight, so they go on the show and want what their parents have got, but their problem behaviour starts coming out,” says Aiken.

Problem behaviour could be that age-old tale of women consistently choosing ‘bad boy’ archetypes – people who consistently put them down or never commit. Or, it could be reacting to minor disagreements with a notoriously short fuse, or setting unrealistic expectations for your partners while not communicating your values and needs to them.

Aiken says self-awareness is key. But, if somebody’s not conscious of your own problematic behaviour, then how do they fix it? Luckily he’s got an exercise for that.

“Get yourself a coffee and sit down with your best mate, and go, ‘I need you to help me and tell me about some of the things I’m doing that’s keeping me single,'” he advises, and says you should review two or three of your past relationships.

“Ask where did I go wrong, why was this person not right for me and how did I contribute to it? Then, determine what you might want in your next relationship with your next partner, and what you’re going to do differently.”

The final part is keeping yourself accountable and “walking the walk,” as Aiken says. Again, using a friend can help keep people accountable.

“A friend is one of the best ways to do it because they check your behaviour, they pull you into line and won’t hold back with their feedback when you’re single. They’ll say [things like] ‘the guy you went out with last time was a loser and here are five things you can never, ever put up with again,'” he says.

So, in short, it’s probably not entirely fair to blame your parents for setting unrealistic expectations. But look, it might feel good to blame them a little bit. No judgement here…

Have you ever blamed your parents for any negative aspects of your love life? Group therapy is open in the comments.