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Love Starved: How Childhood Emotional Neglect Breaks You As An Adult

Childhood Emotional Neglect Breaks Adult

Childhood emotional neglect is a silent form of abuse that no one talks about. The pain of having your own parents avoid and overlook your basic emotional needs or invalidating your emotional experiences can damage you significantly.

When a parent is not emotionally connected to their child, whether intentionally or not, it becomes difficult for the child to see their own selves in a positive light. As they grow older, they drown in self-doubt, low self-esteem, neediness and a negative sense of self.

But does the failure of emotionally unavailable partners turn the child into a failure as an adult?

I want mommy!

Let me tell you a little story. Few years ago I met an amazing woman and I knew in my heart she was ‘The One’ for me. She was perfect and our relationship just felt right. That we were meant to be together. She was loving, caring, supportive, selfless and always putting my happiness first before hers. What more could I ask for, right? 

The problem started when I latched onto her like a parasite and started sucking the happiness out of her. The problem started when I realized my happiness was tied only to her. Being a loner all my life, I saw her as my only solution, my sole path to happiness.

So, I became greedy for happiness. I became needy, insecure, jealous, doubtful, demanding, manipulative, controlling and everything else I could become to keep her to myself. 

But I failed to realize that she was already loving and caring for me willingly. But I wanted her all to myself. So I pushed her and pushed her and pushed her until I broke her love for me. I drove away the woman I wanted the most to love me, even when she was already loving me. 


I wanted to fill the gigantic void in my life left by my mother’s emotional neglect with the love of a woman who simply wanted to have a healthy, loving relationship. I wanted to use my partner’s love to heal all the pain and trauma left by my mother’s neglect.

The poor girl never lasted a chance. I failed to be the man, the partner, my girl wanted to be because my parents failed to meet my emotional needs as a child.

This is what childhood emotional neglect in adults look like. Attention seeking behavior in adults is one of the most common childhood emotional neglect symptoms.

Related: The Lifelong Effects of Childhood Neglect By Parents

childhood emotional neglect
Love Starved: How Childhood Emotional Neglect Breaks You As An Adult

What childhood emotional neglect does to you

Growing up as a neglected child, I was always hungry for love, but never open about my needs. I kept my emotional needs bottled up and kept to myself all my life. People started calling me shy and introverted, but deep down I never felt like I belonged anywhere.

I never felt connected to anyone. Of course I had friends, but socializing was a draining experience, especially because I was a people pleaser. I agreed to everything others said simply because I wanted them to like me. To validate my feelings. And let me tell you, THAT is exhausting.

And so when I met the girl I fell in love with, the same toxic patterns ensued in my romantic relationship. I never openly communicated what I wanted from the relationship out of fear that she would leave me.

I never voiced my opinions, I always hid my real emotions to avoid arguments and I manipulated her without any remorse to have my emotional experiences validated. I distorted the truth and pretended to be the victim at every opportunity to appeal to her strong sense of empathy. I believed the weaker I appeared, the more she would love me. Well, isn’t that the recipe for a healthy, loving relationship?

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Theo Harrison

Hey there! I am just someone trying to find my way through life. I am a reader, writer, traveler, fighter, philosopher, artist and all around nice guy. I am outdoor person but heavily into technology, science, psychology, spiritualism, Buddhism, martial arts and horror films. I believe in positive action more than positive thinking.View Author posts