Dating When You've Had a Bad Childhood

Dating is always a slightly daunting process, involving the need to gather our courage to reveal that we like someone – and that they may not like us… But we’re not all the same in our levels of anxiety around the dating game. For some of us, dating is especially arduous for one particular reason that we may not have considered in enough depth: our childhoods…
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“In the course of any adult life, there will be periods when we’ll end up involved in that slightly odd, slightly unrepresentative and invariably slightly challenging activity: looking. Most people around us won’t be any the wiser, but with greater or lesser subtlety, we will be scanning: suggesting coffees and lunches, accepting every invitation, giving out our email addresses and thinking with unusual care about where to sit on train journeys. Sometimes the rigmarole will be joyful; at times, a bore. But for a portion of us, as many as one in four, it will count as one of the hardest things we ever have to do. Fun won’t remotely come into it. This will be closer to trauma. And it will be so for a reason that can feel more humiliating still: because, a long time ago now, we had a very bad childhood – one whose impact and legacy we still haven’t yet wholly mastered.

It may not look like it, but babies are also looking out for love. They’re not going out in party smocks or slipping strangers’ their phone numbers. They are lying more or less immobile in cribs and are capable of little besides the occasional devastating cute smile. But they too are looking out for someone’s arms to feel safe in; for someone who can soothe them, someone who can stroke their head, tell them it will all be OK when things feel desperate and lend them a breast to suck on. They are looking – as the psychologists call it – to get attached…”


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Produced in collaboration with:

Natalia Biegaj

Title animation produced in collaboration with

Vale Productions

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