In a lifetime, we are exposed to a plethora of complex personalities, relationships, and connections, that we may choose to resonate with or potentially, reject. In navigating through classes, Twitter, Linked In, and Instagram provides us with limitless potential connections to form. Within a few seconds of discussion, one can determine whether to extend this connection or if it is not worth their time. Yet, surprisingly, our experiences and approaches to relationships may not be solely personal, but instead hieratical.
Our approach to relationships in our expressions and actions can be influenced by genetics. Interestingly, a study at the Yale School of Public Health and Public Medicine revealed that individuals with high levels of a GG genotype, responsible for oxytocin inhibition, demonstrate less emotional attachment, increased trust, and relationship satisfaction.1 This could lead to a potential explanation for why some individuals are more emotionally attached than others. If our levels of happiness via oxytocin are higher, then we may experience healthier relationships. As genetics can play a crucial, yet uncontrolled role in our relationships, the experiences that we are in as a child may also influence our approach.
From birth, our lives’ experiences also impact our approach to connections. In support, the study emphasizes that children, who bonded with their primary caregiver at birth tend to form bonds naturally with others.1 Children, who have had close connections with their mothers at birth may be more willing to be emotionally open in relationships in their future. In the case that these bonds do not form or are broken, a child may struggle to emotionally bond well with others. This can be especially true for children, who faced the death of a parent or grew up in the foster care system. Ultimately, the absence of these crucial connections could make it more difficult for the child to form relationships with others in the future. As bonding can mold our relationships, so can our childhood perceptions of relationships.
Our perceptions of external relationships during childhood can also influence our outlook. As we approach and analyze our relationships, we must pinpoint our childhood experiences with personal relationships growing up. Interestingly, we tend to emulate the relationships that we experienced as a child in our adult life.1 If a partner had a toxic relationship with a parent growing up, their mechanism for navigating your relationship may parallel this. Partners, whose parents had a healthy relationship, may develop stronger bonds with their significant others and friends. While we can never have a perfect upbringing, it is vital to reflect on how these experiences could shape our stance in relationships and feelings of worthiness.
How we articulate our worthiness may not be completely under our control. The study reveals that higher levels of the oxytocin inhibiting gene had a higher sense of self-worth than those without it.1 Individuals, who face a deficit of self-worth, may have less trust in their partner and an increased need for attachment. While some individuals may have not high levels of the oxytocin inhibiting gene, establishing individual boundaries and criteria is a vital facet of self-worth.
Ultimately as we acknowledge the hierarchy influence on our relationship outlook, this can encourage us to build healthier relationships with lovers, friends, family, and colleagues. While we may not approach relationships flawlessly, a stronger understanding of influences on our relationships can encourage us to build healthier relationships for the future.
 Monin JK, Goktas SO, Kershaw T, DeWan A (2019). “Associations Between Spouses’ Oxytocin Receptor Gene Polymorphism, Attachment Security, and Marital Satisfaction.” PLoS ONE 14(2): e0213083. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal. pone.0213083
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