Some people have their mother’s eyes. And some, it turns out, grow up to have their mother’s romantic history.
People whose mothers have been married multiple times or have lived with multiple romantic partners are more likely to do so themselves, according to a new study published Tuesday in the journal PLoSOne. The longer people are exposed to their mother’s cohabitation, the more sexual partners they tend to have.
The authors looked at data from surveys of thousands of Americans followed for 24 years. Data on the fathers’ marriages wasn’t available.
The study authors write that, rather than economics or socialization, the most likely explanation was genetic. That is, some people have personality traits that make them better or worse at maintaining relationships. They might be depressed, have trust issues, or not regulate their emotions well. They then pass those traits on to their children, who go on to have similarly short-lived relationships.
Past research has already suggested that personality traits we inherit can influence our romantic relationships. People who are more depressed, for example, have been shown to have less stable relationships, while those who are more extroverted and agreeable tend to be more sought-after spouses.