According to a study published in Stress and Health, women who have experienced the loss of a parent at a young age may be more likely to suffer from separation anxiety in romantic partnerships in adulthood. These women may not only feel desperate when separated from their partners, but may also experience anxious attachment or fear that important others will not be available in times of need.
The study involved 60 women who had lost one or both parents in their youth, and 60 women whose parents were still alive. Based on the participants‘ responses to questionnaires, women who had lost a parent reported a higher level of anxious attachment and separation anxiety towards a partner. However, there were no differences between the groups in terms of avoidant attachment or the desire to maintain autonomy and emotional distance from their parents during childhood and from their partners in adulthood.
For women who had lost a parent, separation anxiety and adult anxious attachment peaked in the first five years of a romantic relationship and gradually declined after a decade.
A future study is suggested to explore how the duration of a romantic relationship affects separation anxiety and anxious attachment in women who suffered early parental loss in childhood.“
Ora Peleg, PhD, corresponding author of Max Stern Yezreel Valley College and Academic College Emek Yezreel in Israel
Peleg, O., et al. (2023). How does the loss of a parent in youth relate to attachment and separation anxiety in women?. Stress and Health. doi.org/10.1002/smi.3356.