12 Traits of People Who Didn’t Receive Enough Affection As a Child

Many argue that if you did not get enough affection as a child, it is because of your parents. While that might be correct in many cases, the truth is that not many of us are equipped to support our children’s basic emotional needs fully.
So, even if you had decent parents, you may possess more than one of these traits. But don’t worry—there are ways to overcome your childhood shortcomings and stop the neglect circle. 

1. You crave other’s attention 

Since your emotional needs weren’t met, there was a sense of hunger, so your adult self did anything and everything to get it from others. This could be as innocent as your outrageous outfits to promiscuous and dangerous behaviors. It is not about forming bonds but getting praised and gaining approval because your self-worth is low. 

2. Significant fear of rejection

Neglected children are usually fearful, in part because they weren’t taught how to deal with a wide variety of emotions. And when you add the need for other people’s attention, it is easier to understand that fear of rejection. This often involves repeating future scenarios where you will be faced with rejection or be forced into isolation, creating anxiety and adding more stress to your already fragile sense of self. 

3. You feel invisible 

Due to lousy parenting or unforeseen events in your childhood, you might experience feeling invisible. It is as simple as If I was not acknowledged as a kid, why would someone respect, love, or recognize me now? This dreadful feeling tends to push you into the background, so you might start acting out, which, again, is reflected in poor behavior and treatment of others. 

4. You’re extremely independent

Since you were left to figure things out independently as a child, you developed a skill for navigating life without guidance. This is a great thing to a certain degree, but if your walls are too up, you will miss out on genuine connections. And if you are already struggling with rejection, it could lead to a lonely, isolated life. 

5. Your relationships are messy

You spend so much time thinking about what could go wrong and examining whether people are being truthful that you either overlook major red flags or ignore people genuinely interested in you. In the case of emotionally starved adults, it is not uncommon to mistake pain for love, which only deepens the problem as you grow older. 

6. Your social skills are not great 

Are you into oversharing? Or are you a closed book, and no one is allowed a glimpse inside? You did not get a chance to develop proper social skills, so you see yourself as awkward. What’s worse is that when you are in social situations, you double down on your awkwardness. Without proper social skills, you feel even more uncomfortable, which triggers your desire for isolation. 

7. Negative self-talk 

The more negative self-talk you engage in, the fewer opportunities you see in your professional and personal life. At the same time, you are more affected by other people’s criticism, which deepens your anxiety or depression. You’ve learned to be your harshest critic, and with the lack of self-esteem and self-worth, every criticism proves you were “right,” that you are “worthless,” or “stupid,” or simply “not good enough.” 

8. You react on impulse 

An emotionally starved child often grows up without any control impulses-knowing skills, which is one of the vital signs that you’re a grown-up. If you are easily triggered, and almost anything can “set you off,” it is a sign of emotional dysregulation, meaning you weren’t given the tools to deal with your emotions properly. The only upside is that despite your childhood, you have the power to fix all this, but more on that later. 

9. You are easily overwhelmed 

A house without a proper foundation will not necessarily collapse immediately, just like an emotionally neglected child will not crumble under pressure each time. But, with time, responsibilities are piling up, and as you face more and more decisions while trying to juggle your personal and professional life, things can get hectic and overwhelming. And with even more time, you get more easily overwhelmed. This leads to chronic stress, which harms your body as much as your mental well-being. 

10. You find it easy to dissociate 

Dissociation keeps you away from your true feelings and needs. Instead of facing criticism, pain, loss, or a challenge, you feel nothing. You do not know how to distance yourself from your emotions or think them through, so you go into survival mode, and that can lead to more serious mental health issues. 

11. Difficulty expressing emotions

Growing up without adequate emotional support can lead to difficulty in recognizing and expressing emotions as an adult. You might find it challenging to articulate how you feel or understand the emotions of others, leading to misunderstandings and strained relationships.

12. Struggle with intimacy

Emotional neglect can hinder your ability to form intimate connections with others. Whether it’s due to a fear of vulnerability or an inability to trust others, you may find it difficult to let people in on a deep emotional level. This can result in feelings of loneliness and isolation despite being surrounded by people.

How to face childhood neglect? 

It is not a child’s fault their parents were too busy, or they had their share of trauma and did not know how to properly “feed” their child’s emotional needs. However, when you realize that you have a problem, instead of blaming others, you have an opportunity to grow. It would be best to seek the help of a therapist, but if that’s not possible, you can start by meditating, writing down your thoughts, and keeping a gratitude journal. If things get too much for you to deal with, seek medical help sooner rather than later because time is precious, and so are you.


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