19 Traits of People Who Weren’t Loved as Children

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By Jonathan Trent

Our childhood can really shape who we are as adults, for better or for worse. Many people who have a childhood lacking affection will, unfortunately, develop traits as adults that can often impact relationships later in life, much like these 19 traits that suggest you weren’t loved as a child.

You Find It Difficult to Trust Others

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Trust is the bedrock of any relationship, so if you always find it difficult to trust anyone in your life, then that’s going to make it very difficult to develop lasting relationships. You may find yourself often thinking the worst of people to protect yourself, which is never easy.

Low Self-Esteem

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If you weren’t loved as a child, you may never feel like you’re good enough, and your inner dialogue is often harsh and overly critical. It’s hard to accept a compliment or recognize anything respectable that you’ve done; VeryWell Mind explains that such low self-esteem can also, sadly, affect your sense of identity.

Fear of Abandonment

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Unloved children often find themselves constantly worrying about being left alone as an adult. This causes considerable anxiety in relationships and can often lead to you enduring toxic relationships simply to keep people in your life. You probably find yourself acting clingy and needing constant reassurance.

You Might Be Overly Independent

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Alternatively, instead of being clingy, you might have developed a severe sense of independence due to your troubled childhood–so much so that you always refuse help even when you need it. You’ve had to develop self-sufficiency because you didn’t feel like you could rely on anyone else growing up.

Difficulty Managing Emotions

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Finding yourself overwhelmed by your emotions and having extreme emotional reactions to certain situations can be a direct result of unloving parents. Controlling your mood swings is difficult, whether feeling empty and numb or overwhelmingly angry, generally avoiding processing your emotions or focusing on them too much.

You Show Aggression or Even Passive-Aggression

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Those who weren’t loved as children often use aggression as a defense mechanism. CNBC points out that the biggest signs of passive-aggression are giving silent treatment and very curt responses. This can be common in those who feel anger but want to avoid confrontation.

Difficulty with Physical Affection

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Lacking affection as a child also means you likely lacked hugs or physical touches from your loved ones growing up. This can manifest as a struggle with physical affection in adulthood. You might withdraw from being touched or feel uncomfortable initiating physical contact with romantic partners.

Preferring to Be Alone

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To avoid the uncomfortable feelings of being unloved as a child, you likely withdraw to isolate yourself. You always prefer solitude to being in a social situation, feeling a lack of interest in community activities, which leads to alienation and disconnection from those around you. Try to get out there when you can!

You’re Obsessed with Perfectionism

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A classic trait of unsupported children is always striving for perfection and setting unrealistically high standards for yourself (and others). This can often come from a fear of failure and lack of self-esteem, meaning you’ll either overwork yourself to attain perfection or avoid tasks altogether if you think you’ll fail.

Controlling Behavior

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Trying to control situations and people can often stem from a need to feel safe. This can come from never having felt supported as a child, resulting in extreme vulnerability. You might, therefore, struggle to be adaptable and prefer to stick to predictable routines.

Overly Sensitive to Criticism

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Have you noticed that you completely shut down when anyone offers critical feedback? Your reticence may be due to your tough childhood when you saw criticism as a personal attack. Your go-to is to act defensively whenever someone confronts you with negative observations, but sadly, this isn’t healthy.

Pessimistic Outlook

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Another unfortunate trait of people who weren’t loved as children is expecting the worst from every situation and everyone around them. They view the world and their future prospects in a negative light, stemming from frequent feelings of worry, isolation, or even hopelessness.

Social Anxiety

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Fear of rejection or judgment from others can often lead to social anxiety; this might result in you avoiding public appearances altogether simply to protect yourself. Signs of social anxiety include blushing and sweating, avoiding eye contact, and feeling self-conscious, says the National Institute of Mental Health.

Reluctance Over Personal Goals

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You might also be hesitant to plan or pursue personal goals if your parents weren’t too loving during your childhood. This can be a result of fear of disappointment from not being able to achieve a perfect standard. Worrying excessively about this can escalate to convincing yourself you’re destined to fail, sadly.

Compulsive Lying

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Compulsive lying is a common trait in those who weren’t loved as children, as it’s a mechanism to protect themselves and create their own narrative. Lack of self-esteem means lying to seem more favorable and be accepted, and it is also used as a go-to in close relationships out of fear of rejection.

You Have a Victim Mentality

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Unloved children commonly have victim mentalities, finding it tough to take positive steps to improve themselves. They constantly blame others for what’s gone wrong in their lives without taking any accountability. Feeling the victim in most situations can be because you subconsciously blame your parents for how you’ve turned out.

Attachment Issues

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Your childhood issues might cause you to become too attached, too detached, or a mixture of both. Deep down, you know you yearn for meaningful connections, but your fear of intimacy often means you can’t attach to others in a healthy way, which can lead to unstable relationships.

Skepticism When it Comes to Love

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If someone shows affection to you, your instinct is to immediately doubt it if you didn’t experience love as a child. Cleveland Clinic explains that philophobia – the fear of love – can be so intense that you sometimes find it impossible to maintain loving relationships. Thankfully, therapy can help with this.

Facing Challenges in Parenting

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Finally, one of the most difficult traits of not being loved as a child can be its effect on your own children. You may feel insecure about your ability as a parent and overcompensate to avoid your parents’ failures, making emotional connections with your children difficult. Therapy is particularly important in this scenario!

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