Here’s some tough news: the way you were treated as a child has had a profound impact on your psychological well-being, leaving you with unhealed wounds that affect you in subtle, often invisible ways. 

If you received very little affection growing up, you might have developed an avoidant attachment style, hyper-independence, or people-pleasing tendencies. You could also find yourself both terrified of and craving commitment.

But here’s the good news: these traits can be managed, healed, and ultimately left behind. It takes work, but it’s possible. The first step is recognizing how your childhood affected you.

 So, let’s dive into how a lack of affection in childhood can manifest in adulthood with these seven traits:

1) Hyper-Independence

If you were often left to fend for yourself as a child, you might have become hyper-independent. When you needed comfort, you got aggression. When you wanted attention, you were dismissed. When you needed care, you had to take care of your caregiver instead. This is called parentification, a form of childhood trauma where the roles of parent and child are reversed. Dr. Annie Tanasugarn explains that this often leads to hyper-independence in adulthood, especially if childhood included events like parental divorce, substance abuse, or violence. Signs of hyper-independence include refusing help, overcommitting, avoiding reliance on others, and being emotionally guarded.

2) Constantly Seeking Validation

If you thrive on external validation, it could mean you didn’t get enough as a child. Whether it’s grades, work performance, or appearance, you seek approval and admiration from others. This need for validation can accompany hyper-independence or exist on its own. Anxiously attached individuals might cling to others seeking validation, while avoidants keep their distance.

3) Mistrust in Love

Trauma can make it hard to feel safe or secure in relationships. As a result, you might not trust others to love you consistently. Attachment might mean chaos and insecurity to you, leading anxious people to try to control relationships while avoidants keep their distance, often giving up on the idea of reliable love altogether.

4) Fear of Commitment and Vulnerability

Fear of commitment and vulnerability can manifest in different ways. Some might fear making a long-term commitment, worrying about making the wrong choice or regretting it later. Others might fear emotional intimacy within relationships. Whether you fear one or both, it signals deeper issues with trust and vulnerability, rooted in a fear of reliving childhood disappointments.

 5) Struggling to Express Needs

Children who experienced trauma often struggle to express their needs and wants. You might find it hard to communicate your desires, leading to misunderstandings and unmet needs. Effective communication is crucial, but it can be learned, helping you express your needs more clearly.

 6) Difficulty with Conflict Resolution

If you grew up in a conflict-ridden environment, you might avoid conflict or handle it poorly. Some might avoid conflict entirely, becoming people-pleasers, while others might pick fights to get attention. Your approach to conflict might be unhealthy, but it’s something that can be improved with learning and healing.


Recognizing these traits is the first step. Healing is a journey, but with effort and self-awareness, it’s possible to overcome the impacts of a less-than-affectionate childhood.

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