The impact childhood experiences with caregivers has on the self and interpersonal relationships has been studied widely, with adverse childhood experiences relating to poor view of the self and wellbeing in adulthood (Poole, Dobson & Pusch, 2018). In relation to psychopathology, a model by Linehan (1993) proposed that an invalidating childhood environment - whereby a parent criticises, trivialises and punishes their child for expressing their thoughts and feelings can be linked to the onset of borderline personality disorder. Further research has shown how an invalidating childhood environment can have a negative effect on the self in adult life (e.g., Westphal, Leahy, Pala &
Wupperman, 2016). Research on the impact of this on adult romantic relationships is few and far between, especially in non-clinical populations.
The overall aim of this research is to gain a clearer understanding of how invalidating childhood environments affect romantic relationship wellbeing in adulthood. This will be explored in three parts. Firstly, by testing construct validity of emotional invalidation in childhood from dispositional traits associated with early interpersonal experiences and well-being, including adult attachment style, rejection sensitivity and self-esteem. Secondly, the dyadic consequences an invalidating childhood environment has on both partners will be tested by
examining individual and partner perceptions of each other and the relationship. Finally, how an invalidating childhood environment affects relationship maintenance processes (e.g., conflict discussions, prosocial behaviours) will be tested. The contribution this will make to the field will be to highlight how an invalidating childhood environment not only influences the self outside the confines of clinical populations but also how that has implications for relationships with others, specifically romantic, and their maintenance.