What Did Your Family Teach You About Love?

What did your family teach you about love? Weird question? I don’t think so. Your family of origin, that classroom you spend your childhood in, taught you all kinds of things about life. In this case, I’m particularly interested in what they’ve taught you about your “love life.”

Here’s the problem, chances are pretty good that what you’ve learned about love in your family of origin was learned “unconsciously” without your awareness or choice. You really weren’t able to determine whether the “lessons” were healthy or not. Plus, you were pretty vulnerable at that time in your life so pretty much whatever they taught you will make it into the depths of your mind without much resistance or even review.

If what you’ve learned about love was “healthy,” this article might be a waste of your time. But if what you’ve learned about your love life was “unhealthy” it may be time for review and changes. The chances are pretty good that what you’ve learned will be your “blueprint” for how your love life turns out. Don’t believe it? Think about it for a minute. What we learn to expect has a very powerful effect on what we end up experiencing in life. Just how this formulae ends up creating what we expect is not really known. Perhaps its due to some kind of mysterious creative process that takes place even when you’re sleepwalking through every day life. Who knows…

I’m figuring we all have two options: #1. Live out your love life according to what you were taught in your family, accepting whatever outcome it predicts for you, or; #2. Make what you’ve learned conscious and do something about it, if some or all of what you’ve learned was unhealthy. Personally I’ll go with option #2. I’d like to believe that my love life belongs to me, not some experience I had years ago watching how my father related to my mother in their marriage.

Victoria and I get a steady stream of people in our offices who are replicating the love lives of their parents, without really knowing that that is happening. You and I, and everyone else on this planet, gets one shot at living a satisfying if not happy life. And your love life will be a huge part of that life. Put it like this, if you are not in charge of your love life, then something else is. Scary to say the least. I don’t think anyone wants to find out after several painful relationships and/or marriages and a lot of time alone, that what they believe about love (taught to them by people who suffered from what they themselves learned) was not healthy enough to have a satisfying love life.

Here’s my advice: Do something different, think about what your experiences in life have taught you about love, and choose what’s right for you.

Comments welcome, Dr. Jordan

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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.


  1. K on August 16, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    what if i don’t even have the chance to choose.. my destiny is controlled by my family

  2. Hel Stone on December 3, 2019 at 3:55 pm

    I’ve always been taught by my family that love is more about giving, not taking. Even if it seems too altruistic for some people this is a principle the love can’t exist without. This is a core.

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