There are many traits you may be glad you inherited from your mother—like say, her intellect, sense of humor, or crazy curls. But the psychological community just revealed that there’s one TMI hand-me-down you’d probably rather not think about: her number of romantic partners. (Ugh, can I please unlearn this?)
Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (which analyzed 7,152 participants’ relationships over the span of 24 years), a national study published in the journal PLOS ONE determined that biological children may inherit personality traits and relationship skills from the maternal figure in their life. The specific trails and skills in question lead the offspring to mimic patterns, not through genes but through environmental factors, reports Science Daily. For example, those who witness their mothers having many significant others as they grow up are more likely to emulate that in their own lives.
“Whatever the exact mechanisms, [mothers] may pass these characteristics on to their children, making their children’s relationships less stable.” —Claire Kamp Dush, PhD, lead study author
While researchers don’t know exactly why dating patterns seem to get passed down, they hypothesize that it’s a classic case of learned behavior. “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,” says Claire Kamp Dush, PhD, lead study author. “Whatever the exact mechanisms, they may pass these characteristics on to their children, making their children’s relationships less stable.”
So if you feel like making things interesting when you travel home for Thanksgiving, you could compare dating notes with your mom—they might even be prophetic for you. After all, aren’t awkward familial bonding moments what the holidays are for?
Feeling lonely in your relationship? Here’s what to do. Or, if you’re going through a non-breakup from your non-relationship, here’s how to deal.
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