The needs of a child go beyond what’s necessary for survival. Even if a parent or caregiver is able to provide food, water, and shelter, the emotional needs required for proper development can play a big role in how that child feels as they grow up. 

It can also have a huge impact on their relationships throughout life — even as an adult. 

Childhood is when you form attachment bonds. It’s when you develop feelings of security (or insecurity) and learn about healthy relationships through experience. If you had unmet needs as a child and didn’t receive the love, attention, or support you needed and deserved, there’s a good chance it’s affecting you and your relationships today. 

Let’s take a closer look at how those unmet needs can have a negative impact on your adult relationships. 

How Past Patterns Can Dictate the Future

An adult who experienced abuse or neglect as a child might end up having several issues with relationships. First, they might struggle with self-esteem. That can lead to unhealthy codependent relationships where they lose their sense of identity and essentially “live” for their partner. 

It can also establish a vicious cycle of abuse. Adults who were emotionally abused as children might be more susceptible to staying in relationships where emotional abuse is prevalent. 

Because of self-esteem and confidence issues, adults who didn’t experience the proper care as children might also have a fear of losing someone in a relationship. Or, they might feel like they don’t deserve a healthy partnership, so they’re often willing to do whatever it takes to hang on to a romantic partner, even if things aren’t healthy. 

A Lack of Emotional and Social Skills

Unmet childhood needs can impact relationships more subtly, too. A child who doesn’t receive the right kind of care from a young age might struggle with communication and commitment as an adult. 

woman sitting cross legged in a field surrounded by leavesThink about how hard it would be to communicate effectively with anyone when you didn’t have role models for communication growing up. Because healthy communication is so important in relationships, not knowing how to express yourself adequately or be an active listener can cause major problems in everything from familial to romantic relationships. 

People with unmet childhood needs might also be more impulsive and willing to take risky behaviors. They often lack stability because of their upbringing, and can’t commit to anything for too long. 

What You Can Do

Do any of these behaviors or characteristics sound familiar? Do they describe what you feel and go through every day, or explain the scope of your relationships? If so, you might be dealing with unmet childhood needs. 

A big issue is that many adults who didn’t have their needs met during childhood might not fully realize it until it’s brought to their attention. You might’ve blocked things from your upbringing out simply so you could cope with everyday life. 

So, what can you do about it now? 

While you can’t rewrite the past, you can certainly change the way you see yourself and your future relationships. 

Consider reaching out to a mental health professional for help. The first step toward healing is to dig into the past and get to the root cause of these issues. That can be uncomfortable, at times, but it’s necessary to pull back the curtain and work through things from the ground up. Thankfully, you don’t have to do it alone. Once you’ve peeled back those layers, you can start learning healthy ways to cope with what happened and how to move forward.

If you’ve struggled with relationships as an adult and you’re worried your unmet childhood needs might be to blame, feel free to contact me for more information or to set up an appointment for trauma therapy.