Relationships — When is the Pattern Set?

Photo by Dương Hữu on Unsplash

How do you feel about the theory that the pattern for relationships and how we ‘place’ ourselves in them starts with our early years, how we fit in our family? Is the dynamic is set at the foundation stage, so we go out into the world with that imprint, or label on our personality?

I am a third child, a placement which seems to have given me the desire to be ‘different’ — striving to make my own mark so as not to be in the older siblings’ shadow. Simple example: when my teachers set an assignment, I always wanted to do something that none of my peers had thought of. I like to follow fashion, but not slavishly, so I’ve often ‘customised’ my clothes in small ways so that I can wear an item that nobody else has.

I won’t be a sheep and follow the crowd. My take on the #SoSS meme is typical: my decision to share by interviewing other bloggers was because I wanted to put my own spin on things. My OH, contrastingly, is a ‘joiner’, preferring to go with the flow. Sometimes he worries my ways make it appear I don’t like his friends or family.

What if you were an only child — if you didn’t have siblings to fight or play or learn to share with? I suspect this affects a person’s ability to ‘multitask’ with their feelings. Many ‘onlys’ I have met seem unable to juggle several friends, instead focusing attention on one while ignoring the others. Some parents who were the only child seem to fall into the trap of ‘playing favourites’ once they have offspring to nurture. To quote my Mum “I don’t have a favourite, I always root for the underdog,” and I’ve followed her example to a large extent.

The path for an only child can be a lonely one, and an eldest child follows the same route to a large extent. Both positions mean that the child must break new ground alone, going to parties, school or the park by themselves — until a younger sibling is old enough to toddle along. Another aspect is that a lot of responsibility gets put on eldest and only children. An eldest may be asked to look out for the younger ones or feel the responsibility for protecting a sibling from ill treatment.

Parents treat their only child as an ambassador, which is often true for the firstborn also. How does this translate in your adult, loving relationship? Will they want to maintain their place as the strong one, or is this their haven where they let a lover take charge and be dominant while laying their responsibilities at their lover’s feet?

In childhood, all needs are met by the primary carer — often the mother — and these needs are simple. The needs are to feed, clothe, keep clean, protect from danger, to teach and love. Usually parent(s) fulfil these needs, resulting in their child feeling unconditional love for them as ‘providers’. This becomes what the child defines as ‘love’, translating to what they search for in an adult partner. The downside of this is that a person’s needs become much more complex in adulthood. This make it harder to ‘fulfil’ these needs, leaving many people with the sense they are unable to find ‘real’ love.

Nowadays not every family matches the old ‘models’ — this is not news. Not everyone’s up-bringing will fit the examples I’ve given above. I’m looking forward to people’s comments on the concepts I have suggested because I have written this post to open discussions rather than to get on my soapbox and convert you to my opinion. I would not like to cause offence in sketching out these ideas, my purpose is more to ask if readers think the evidence is greater to support or to reject them.



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Posy Churchgate

Posy Churchgate

Writer: erotic, romance, thriller, supernatural, life. LGBTQ+ Editor : TantalizingTales. Keen to support creative people. Blogs at