The Truth About Childhood Emotional Neglect and Romantic Relationships

Childhood emotional neglect and romantic relationships are very sensitive topics. Childhood emotional neglect may impact your romantic relationships by making it challenging to build intimate relationships and trust and raising your risk of developing depression and anxiety. So, let’s discuss the truth about childhood emotional neglect that might keep you feeling alone in romantic relationships, even as an adult.

Childhood Emotional Neglect and Romantic Relationships

Childhood Emotional Neglect and Romantic Relationships!
Childhood Emotional Neglect and Romantic Relationships!

The most common type of child mistreatment is neglect. Any failure to address a child’s basic physical or psychological requirements counts as it.

A type of emotional abuse is emotional neglect. It can be recognized by patterns in which a child’s feelings are neglected, discounted, or downplayed.

Typically, people describe feeling “alone in a crowded area.” However, even in a committed marriage or long-term relationship, we occasionally feel isolated. In reality, many of us experience deep-seated loneliness in our relationships with ourselves.

Emotional neglect begins in our early years when we are concerned with discovering who we are and how to interact with those around us. Suppose we don’t grow up in a nurturing atmosphere during that critical time. In that case, we lack comprehensive emotional skills, such as healthy boundaries, self-worth, self-knowledge, and self-comfort capacity.

Emotional neglect may result when a caretaker is unresponsive, unavailable, or uncomfortable with their feelings.

Growing up with a rude parent, for example, who ignores the child’s love and attention needs, may be regarded as emotional neglect.

Childhood emotional neglect can alter how a kid view the world and themselves and cause long-lasting scars. In addition, this type of neglect may impact your attachment style.

People who were neglected emotionally as children sometimes gravitate toward one another as adults. It could be because we experience common standards and understanding. Unfortunately, this means that two people without the proper emotional education must attempt to deal with all the challenging aspects of an adult relationship.

When in a relationship of this nature, we frequently feel lonely. But what, indeed, is emotional neglect in childhood, and how does it impact adult romantic relationships?

Read More: Early Signs of a Toxic Relationship: Don’t Let Love Fool You

Childhood Emotional Neglect and Romantic Relationships!
Childhood Emotional Neglect and Romantic Relationships!

What is Emotional Neglect in Children?

When parents or other caretakers repeatedly fail to address a child’s emotional needs, it is referred to as childhood emotional neglect (CEN).

Since CEN focuses primarily on what isn’t happening, it can be challenging to spot. It can be the absence of reasonable boundaries, a lack of Love and care, or personal space for the child. The parent may be tense, controlling, dominating, clingy, self-centered, or absent-minded.

Whatever the form, the end effect is a child who lacks a supportive environment to grow emotionally. Their emotional needs are either disregarded outright or handled as an inconvenience.

Read on for assistance if you frequently feel something is “wrong” but can’t quite put your finger on it. For example, suppose you battle chronic loneliness, low self-esteem, or a fear of rejection.

Childhood Emotional Neglect and Romantic Relationships!
Childhood Emotional Neglect and Romantic Relationships!

Signs of Childhood Emotional Neglect in Adults

Emotional neglect in childhood is not nearly as visible as one might think. First, there’s the truth that without comparison, a child might be unable to identify abuse. It is possible to misidentify the effects of prior neglect as that child ages and becomes an adult. As an adult, you could struggle without understanding why.

All of the above can hamper any attempt at healing. It is difficult to obtain a profound recovery unless underlying problems can be identified and addressed. Therefore, it can be crucial first to develop the ability to spot when the emotional neglect you had as a child is showing up.

Listed below are some classic symptoms of childhood emotional neglect.

  1. Social interaction that is significantly less positive
  2. delayed language development
  3. During playtime, resentment of the parent
  4. Stay away from contact with kids.
  5. Unhealthy peer relationships
  6. Aggression, anger, and behavior problems are all examples of disruptive and inappropriate behavior.
  7. Unorganized attachment, insecure-avoidant attachment behaviors, and, in severe cases, attachment disorders
  8. Display aggressive, withdrawn, and passive behaviors with their parents.
  9. Has a delayed or underperforming childhood
  10. Interactions between parents and children that are negative and hostile to the parent
  11. increased dissociation rates
  12. Additional behavioral difficulties, such as signs of conduct disorder
  13. Having less emotional intelligence and having trouble identifying angry faces
  14. Depression-related symptoms
  15. Anxiety disorder symptoms
  16. the lower level of cognitive ability
  17. Lack of compassion and low self-esteem
  18. Feelings of worthlessness, humiliation, shame, and self-blame
  19. difficulties paying attention
  20. When autism signs are present, such as stereotyped rocking and self-soothing, the child may show them in extreme situations.

Should note that qualified professionals must assess whether a child has been neglected emotionally. Report any suspected or seen neglect as quickly as possible to the appropriate authority.

Childhood Emotional Neglect and Romantic Relationships!
Childhood Emotional Neglect and Romantic Relationships!

Effects of Childhood Emotional Neglect on Adults

Psychological abuse includes the neglect of a child’s emotional needs. Additionally, it is one of the most frequent forms of child abuse. Even when there aren’t traumatic incidents, emotional neglect as a youngster can be just as harmful as abuse.

Fact suggests that of all forms of childhood abuse, CEN may have the most adverse effects on mental disorders and impact on physical, psychological, and academic performance.

Children who experience neglect may experience psychological behaviors more frequently and have cognitive and emotional development problems.

The way a child feels about being neglected is crucial. Children who feel emotionally neglected are twice as likely to experience mental problems, such as melancholy, bipolar disorder, anxiety, panic disorder, phobias, and posttraumatic stress disorder, by age 15. (PTSD).

Teenagers who experience emotional neglect as children are more likely to struggle in school, use drugs or alcohol, engage in risky sexual behavior, or attempt suicide.

Parents who didn’t get enough Love from their parents as children are likely to use similar parenting practices while parenting their children.

Here are some common effects of childhood emotional neglect on adults:

  • Deep uneasiness or discomfort while expressing emotions to others or oneself, whether happy, harmful, or a combination of the two.
  • A constant but unpredictable feeling of loneliness or emotional coldness.
  • A deep-seated conviction that they are fundamentally faulty in some way.
  • A vague sense of being unique from other people in some way.
  • A propensity for guilt and humiliation.
  • Needs to gain knowledge of how emotions function.

Even though recognizing these features can be frightening, there are solutions. Several significant reasons exist to modify them, which can all be changed.
Importance of Emotions in Human Beings

There is a reason why humans are born with the capacity for emotion. The most intimately personal and biological reflections of who you are. Your body and brain communicate with each other through your feelings.

Your body uses them to communicate with you, for instance, when you are grieving the loss of something, what to avoid (fear), and when to take protective measures (hurt or anger).

In the last ten years, psychology has seen an explosion of studies demonstrating the significance and influence of our emotions. How we manage them in deciding our happiness, well-being, and overall life choices.

Childhood Emotional Neglect and Romantic Relationships!
 Childhood Emotional Neglect and Romantic Relationships!

Importance of Emotions in Relationships

Emotions are rarely all-or-nothing, simple, or even solitary. Instead, they are frequently layered, complex, and unpredictable, making them challenging to define.

When feelings run high, they should be represented and tended to in connections. It is self-evident when the emotions are outrageous or harmful because both of these feelings resemble alerts ringing in your body. Furthermore, outrage can be exceptionally damaging when not recognized and made due.

It knows what you are feeling when it can be challenging if you suffered emotional neglect as a child. For example, you might not even know you’re upset or irritated. Alternatively, I can inform you if you are unsure what to do.

Skills include recognizing your feelings, controlling them, and expressing them to a partner. Therefore, anyone who has experienced emotional neglect can learn them at any stage of their lives.

Childhood Emotional Neglect and Romantic Relationships!
 Childhood Emotional Neglect and Romantic Relationships!

What are Some Examples of Emotional Neglect?

Children need adults to guide them in overcoming their difficulties. Then, when they grow, listen to them, validate their feelings, and have reasonable expectations for them, depending on their age.

Here are some instances of emotional neglect:

  • Inadequate emotional support during hardship or illness
  • Refusing to give or receive Love when it is demanded
  • Exposure to domestic abuse and other forms of mistreatment
  • A lack of concern for a child’s mental health
  • Took no action on the child’s behalf (e.g., allowing behavioral problems to go unaddressed)
  • Social isolation
  • Being absent or unavailable emotionally
  • Neglecting a kid
  • Putting a child through a physical or mental challenge
Childhood Emotional Neglect and Romantic Relationships!
Childhood Emotional Neglect and Romantic Relationships!

What Does Emotional Neglect Look Like in a Relationship?

When you spend time with an adult who has experienced childhood trauma, you’ll notice that they may have problems expressing their emotions or feelings. As a result, they continuously withdraw rather than explore their emotions and only employ plain, functional words.

At first, you might question whether something you said to this person hurt them. But when it starts to repeat itself, it’s best to recognize the primary causes before assuming you can change or fix them.

The root cause of these relationship problems in adults is that their childhood emotions were in some way invalidated by their parents. One can picture a parent adopting a “seen but not heard” attitude when they bring their child home from school each day. This child is taught to hold their emotions to themselves and cannot develop the vocabulary or cognitive ability to comprehend their feelings.

Instead of growing up in a safe environment, they lack the empathy necessary for healthy development. It may lead to a lack of compassion for oneself or those around them. They operate in a “closed system” and might not be aware of why they don’t communicate well.

Close relationships with adults who have experienced CEN will reveal persistent tendencies of retreat. They will also see that the CEN adult finds confrontation or the routine activities of daily life to be complicated. To avoid any circumstance that seems challenging, they will rapidly turn to addictions or other forms of escape.

Childhood Emotional Neglect and Romantic Relationships!
 Childhood Emotional Neglect and Romantic Relationships!

5 Ways Childhood Emotional Neglect Can Interfere With Relationship

Some kids grow up being taught to deny their emotional needs. They are instructed to conceal their emotions and ensure that no one notices they require basic human needs like emotional support, comprehension, and validation from others.

Many parents who bring up their kids this way are otherwise excellent people with good intentions. Who themselves were taught that emotions are unimportant and that having their needs met emotionally is a bother. Unfortunately, due to addiction, depression, hardship, self-involvement, or general ignorance of their children’s requirements, other people may be unable to adequately meet their children’s emotional needs.

All of this significantly impacts your potential love life and romantic relationship prospects. It can undoubtedly lead you to search for the incorrect form of Love with the wrong kind of spouse. It may even make some aspects of a healthy relationship feel patently unfair.

List of Some Love and Romantic Relationship Problems Brought on by Emotional Neglect

1- Accepting and Feeling Love

You develop a sort of emotional desert inside you when your parents don’t care about your feelings or moving requirements. It’s similar to an emotionally arid area almost incapable of soaking up any “water” or emotionally validating affection you may experience later in adulthood.

How it Affects Your Relationship: Even when you discover someone who provides you with the components you need most (emotional attention, caring, and responsiveness), it may make you uncomfortable. As a result, you may want to leave because you are still figuring out what to do with it.

2- Not Having Complete Access to Your Feelings

Children who grow up in families where feelings aren’t discussed learn an essential “skill” related to feelings: how to suppress and stifle them. Children who have experienced emotional neglect conceal their emotions to function in their family of origin.

How it Affects Your Relationship: As an adult, you need your emotions to create solid and enduring bonds with other people. Developing a deep emotional connection with a partner makes it much harder.

3- You Secretly Feel Worthless

Being told, “You don’t matter,” as you grow up in an environment where your feelings and emotional needs are ignored. Being treated this way as a child causes you to treat yourself the same way as an adult.

How does it Affects Your Relationship: If you don’t value your wants and feelings, how can you expect things from a partner confidently? But, on the other hand, if your lover wants to make you happy, what should you do? Will they have to hazard a guess as to your needs and wants?

4- Fear of Being Rejected

All children naturally need emotional support from their parents, so when you ask them for it as a youngster and don’t get it, you instinctively feel rejected. In this sense, children who experience emotional neglect may develop a deep-seated dread of rejection.

How it Affects Your Relationship: As an adult, you could unintentionally structure your decisions and behaviors. Around that fear makes it challenging to ask someone out on a date or to imagine that they might want to be with you.

5- Shame Regarding Sexual or Loving Feelings

Parents who avoid all discussion of sex or fail to educate their children about it, and parents who don’t show or talk about good emotions like Love, warmth, or affection. Set their children up to hide or even feel embarrassed of their own positive, loving sentiments and sexual urges.

How it Affects Your Relationship: They can grow up unable to pursue a partner or express Love and sexual desires with someone due to a wall of shame.

Childhood Emotional Neglect and Romantic Relationships!
 Childhood Emotional Neglect and Romantic Relationships!

How do you Recover From Emotional Neglect?

It might be challenging to overcome the negative impacts of emotional neglect in childhood on love relationships. You might not be aware of how they are affecting your life. Seeking the assistance of a mental health professional is strongly advised.

Emotionally focussed treatment (EFT) helps treat emotional neglect types.

Any age can experience recovery from emotional neglect in childhood. However, these hints may be helpful.

1- Practicing

Working on your emotional language will help you become more adept at identifying and recognizing feelings.

According to Kaplan, you may learn to acknowledge, react to, and regulate your emotional experience if you have more words to describe your emotions.

This procedure can be started by listing potential emotions and associating them with various occasions during the day.

You can practice unrestrained emotional expression and pattern recognition by writing.

2- Allowing yourself to Feel Joy

It’s acceptable to enjoy oneself and feel pleasure. Allowing a “like” to develop into a passion can be a rewarding experience.

According to Kaplan, individuals who experienced emotional neglect as children frequently never had the opportunity to develop these aspects of their personality, which adds to the feeling of being lost or unsatisfied.

Start by choosing a favorite hobby and setting aside time each week to engage in, concentrate, and learn more about it.

3- Learning How to Interact With Others

Rosenberg suggests emphasizing meaningful relationships as a way to enrich life.

By praising the other person, especially with love partners, you might encourage the development of these ties.

You can discuss why you view traits, habits, and interests as beneficial to strengthen the emotional connection. For example, does it make you happy? Are you impressed?

Childhood Emotional Neglect and Romantic Relationships!
Childhood Emotional Neglect and Romantic Relationships!

What Emotional Neglect Looks Like in Your Partner and How to Spot It

A child who suffers emotional neglect is given a very subtle but powerful message: Your emotions don’t matter!

These kids find it difficult to understand, accept, and express their emotions because they repressed them throughout childhood. As a result, they frequently struggle as adults to express their needs, form emotional connections with those closest to them, or put up with disagreement.

Your partner may regularly lose their temper. Without cause and be unable to rationally handle emotionally charged circumstances if they are experiencing these impacts of emotional neglect. They could also misjudge their or others’ feelings and rapidly withdraw when overwhelmed or confused. They could even turn to numerous addictions to escape uncomfortable circumstances and difficult situations.

You can be left wondering what is wrong with your loved one and uncertain about your interactions with them and your relationship. It is because they are around yet not present, close by but far away.
How to Handle Childhood Emotional Neglect When It Affects Your Partner

Let’s talk about How to handle childhood emotional neglect and romantic relationships when it affects your partner.


Here are some ways to cope with your partner from emotional neglect:

1- Be Sensible

Don’t put too much pressure on your relationship. It might not always be able to relate to you on a mature level, so be understanding and patient. Remember that you need clarification about what is wrong as you are. Express gratitude for your partner’s efforts when they try to understand CEN and collaborate with you. Keep the lines of communication regarding the problem open and accessible.

2- Show Compassion and Empathy

Give support on physical, behavioral, and emotional levels. Be friendly and empathetic, demonstrating your awareness of how difficult this may be for them. Show them that you care about helping them recover from emotional neglect. Emphasize how significant this is to you and your relationship.

3- Do Some Research

Learn everything you can about child emotional abuse (CEN). You’ll probably uncover why your marriage doesn’t make you entirely content. Inform your partner of it. Ask them to check into it and perhaps complete a CEN questionnaire to see whether they are experiencing the consequences of emotional neglect.

4- Get Comfortable Posing Vertical Questions

Try different ways of connecting and communicating to strengthen your bond. They differ from typical inquiries because they aim to elicit strong emotions rather than information. However, they may help you find something significant.

5- Find a Qualified Counselor

Don’t be afraid to speak with a mental health professional if you find it difficult to cope or if nothing seems to change. Those struggling with the impacts of emotional neglect along the road can typically receive assistance from a qualified and experienced couple’s therapist.

It’s important to understand if you are in a relationship with a CEN adult. You may frequently need to show them self-compassion and only sometimes count on them to connect maturely. If you see CEN symptoms early on in your relationship, consider them. Even the everyday communication necessary for the relationship to function may be frustrating, so you may want to consider yourself if you should enter the relationship.

Hopefully, adults who have experienced neglect will acquire the skills to manage their emotions and develop empathy for themselves and others. However, you might not be able to do so and run the risk of unintentionally causing emotional abuse to someone else.


Childhood emotional neglect can be defined as any action, lack of focus, or interest that causes a child’s emotional needs to be ignored.

Even though societal and cultural standards influence many instances of emotional neglect, emotional neglect can sometimes occur unintentionally as a result of the trauma and experiences of the caregiver.

Being honest, intimate, and trustworthy with others as an adult might be challenging if you experienced emotional neglect as a child. You might have shared a personality condition or an anxious attachment style, among the many other repercussions that could have occurred.

However, it is possible to overcome the effects of emotional neglect in childhood on adulthood.

You can help yourself have enjoyable personal encounters by working on emotional identification, developing people skills, and exercising these talents. For example, reliving emotions you were unable to experience as a child. It would help if you also considered seeking professional guidance.


What does childhood emotional neglect look like in adults?

Higher anxiety, depression, and other psychiatric problems are some effects of emotional neglect. Heightened negative feelings, including fear, guilt, shame, and rage. Increased risk of addiction and substance use problems.

What does emotional neglect do to a wife?

When one (or both) partners in marriage fail to look after themselves and their family, that is called neglect. It typically results in an emotional separation or isolation and can quickly result in broken homes.

How does childhood emotional neglect affect marriage?

Your partner may regularly lose their temper without cause and cannot handle emotionally charged circumstances rationally. If they are experiencing these impacts of emotional neglect. They could also misjudge their or others’ feelings and rapidly withdraw when overwhelmed or confused.

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