10 Signs of emotional deprivation in adulthood

Many adults can find it challenging to form close bonds with others. This can have many reasons, including a lack of understanding of one’s own feelings, which in turn can make it difficult to express one’s own feelings and make oneself understood by others. The reason why some people feel this way may be emotional deprivation.

Emotional deprivation means a lack of emotional support and care from the closest carers during childhood. With a lack of care, you often find your own ways of coping with your own feelings, and these methods are often taken with you into adulthood. One consequence of this is that one is unable to understand one’s own emotional life.
Here we will look at ways in which emotional deprivation can be expressed in adulthood .
We look at how it can affect life and what methods can be used to break out of the pattern.

Emotional deprivation in adulthood

Emotional deprivation can affect a person in several different ways in adulthood, and often in meetings with friends, at work or in love life. The pattern of action can lead to one not being able to “take one’s place” in relation to others.

Low self-esteem
When you are exposed to emotional deprivation, it can be challenging to be in touch with your own feelings. Because one’s own feelings have not been confirmed as a child , one has learned to think that they are not worth as much as others. This can lead to low self-esteem and make it difficult to see the value of oneself. It is reinforced when you compare yourself to others.

The feeling of a void that can never be filled
Some people experience a great void inside after being exposed to emotional deprivation in childhood. With a lack of contact with one’s own feelings and the lack of love and care, basic emotional satisfaction is lacking. Instead, many are left with a void inside that is difficult to understand and explain . It can therefore at the same time become challenging to express what you really feel.

Challenge of expressing one’s own feelings
Many people may find it challenging to express their own feelings, because they never had a safe arena where it was accepted, or seen and heard when they tried to express themselves as children. One’s own feelings have been dismissed and seen as less important. People have learned to push their feelings aside to avoid causing problems in the family. Expressing one’s own needs and having feelings can therefore lead to other negative feelings such as shame and guilt. The same can happen if you make a mistake.
You take that with you into adulthood .


Working to satisfy others
When one sees their own feelings as less important than others’, many people often spend more time helping others. It becomes easier to put other people’s feelings and thoughts before your own. In addition, it is a kind of survival mechanism to deal with the fear of being abandoned and rejected . This can lead to you constantly trying to satisfy the needs and wishes of others, and putting yourself in the background.

Difficulty forming bonds with others
The same fear of being abandoned and rejected also prevents many from forming close bonds with others. This can apply to both friendly and/or romantic relationships. To protect yourself from being hurt, it may feel easier to keep people at a distance and not let anyone get too close to you.

Expects a lot from others
At the same time as you have challenges in forming bonds with others, you can also expect quite a lot from others, especially in relationships. Among other things, one can expect the partner to be able to add what was missing in childhood . It can be love, attention or being appreciated. Furthermore, it can lead to entering into relationships that can be destructive.

Self-sabotaging behavior
Some people, in contrast to expecting a lot from others, engage in self-sabotaging behavior in their relationship. You sit with basic thoughts that you will never be able to experience support and love from others, because they never experienced it in childhood and it is therefore something you believe you do not deserve. That way you attract people you know will never be able to fulfill your emotional needs . In this sense, you practice self-sabotaging behavior which for some feels safe and is recognizable from childhood.

How to break out of the pattern?

The wounds you carry as an adult after being exposed to emotional deprivation in childhood are wounds that have become part of you and who you are. It is nevertheless a pattern that it is possible to break out of , and in the long run be able to get in better touch with your own feelings and understand your own value in meeting others.

Knowledge of emotional deprivation can help to understand the reason why many struggle to get in touch with their own feelings . Through sufficient knowledge of the topic, you also get the opportunity to tackle the challenges you struggle with .
Among other things, you can learn to:

  • open up about your own feelings towards others
  • improve the ability to trust others
  • strengthen the experience of “I” and self-esteem
  • develop abilities to adjust one’s own emotions

It can feel overwhelming to start tackling this on your own. Through therapy, you can get help on the way to breaking out of the destructive pattern step by step. That way, you get the opportunity to live a good
emotional life
 , with healthy and safe relationships with those around you.