People who grew up with emotionally distant parents usually display these 9 behaviors (without realizing it)

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Imagine carrying a puzzle inside you, where pieces shaped by your earliest experiences dictate how you navigate the world, especially when those pieces were handed to you by emotionally distant parents.

Without realizing it, this intricate puzzle influences your relationships, self-esteem, and even your moments of solitude.

In this revealing exploration, we delve into the lives of individuals who grew up with emotionally distant parents, unearthing nine behaviors that often fly under the radar, yet speak volumes about their inner worlds.

Join us as we piece together this complex emotional tapestry, offering insights and understanding to those who see themselves in these patterns.

1) Difficulty expressing emotions

People who grew up with emotionally distant parents often struggle with expressing their own emotions. During their formative years, the open display of feelings might have been discouraged or ignored. This can lead to an internalization of emotions and difficulty in expressing them in adulthood.

This behavior often manifests as an inability to recognize or articulate what they are feeling. They might also be uncomfortable with others expressing emotions, especially intense ones, as it’s something they are not accustomed to.

This difficulty in emotional expression can affect personal relationships and interactions. 

2) Difficulty trusting others

Another common behavior seen in individuals who grew up with emotionally distant parents is a difficulty in trusting others. This lack of trust often stems from a fear of vulnerability, which was probably not safe or encouraged during their childhood.

These individuals might be hesitant to open up to others, fearing rejection or dismissal of their feelings. This can create barriers in forming deep, meaningful relationships.

The fear of trust can also make these people incredibly self-reliant.

While self-reliance is generally a good trait, it can become problematic when it impedes the ability to ask for help or lean on others during difficult times.

3) Tendency to suppress needs and desires

People who have been raised by emotionally distant parents often suppress their own needs and desires. This behavior is usually a result of their experiences in childhood, where their emotional needs were not met or even acknowledged.

In an effort to avoid disappointment or rejection, these individuals learn to ignore their own desires. They may prioritize the needs of others over their own, often leading to a life of self-sacrifice.

This suppression can lead to feelings of resentment and frustration over time. It can also affect one’s self-esteem, causing them to undervalue their own wants and needs.

4) Difficulty in forming close relationships

Another behavior commonly seen in those who grew up with emotionally distant parents is the difficulty in forming close relationships. This stems from the lack of emotional intimacy experienced during their childhood.

As they were not used to being emotionally close to their parents, these individuals may struggle to form deep connections with others. They may fear rejection or abandonment, leading to a preference for superficial relationships rather than deep, meaningful ones.

This fear of intimacy can make it challenging for them to open up and share their feelings with others. They might also have a hard time understanding and responding to the emotions of others due to their own experiences.

5) Overactive inner critic

One of the most profound effects of growing up with emotionally distant parents is the development of an overactive inner critic.

Due to the lack of emotional support and validation during their formative years, these individuals often develop a harsh inner voice that constantly judges and criticizes them.

This inner critic can lead to a constant feeling of not being good enough. It can also trigger feelings of guilt, shame, and unworthiness.

The impact of this overactive inner critic can be detrimental to one’s mental health, self-esteem, and overall quality of life.

Therefore, silencing this inner critic is a crucial step towards self-love and acceptance.

6) Strong desire for control

Individuals who grew up with emotionally distant parents often develop a strong desire for control.

This behavior is usually a coping mechanism to compensate for the unpredictability and instability they experienced during their childhood.

They might feel an intense need to control their environment, situations, and even people in their lives. This can manifest in various ways, such as excessive planning, micromanaging, or difficulty delegating tasks.

While the desire for control can sometimes be beneficial in terms of organization and efficiency, it can turn problematic when it leads to stress, anxiety, and conflicts with others.

7) Inclination towards perfectionism

Many who grew up with emotionally distant parents naturally veer towards perfectionism, driven by a deep-seated wish to earn their parents’ approval and love through flawlessness.

This quest often sets them on a path of impossibly high standards for themselves, leading to a cycle of self-criticism when they inevitably falter.

The fear of making mistakes becomes entwined with the fear of rejection or failure.

Now, aiming for excellence is indeed admirable, but there’s a fine line between pushing oneself to do well and pushing too hard into the realm of perfectionism. This extreme pursuit can cause stress, burnout, and ironically, may even detract from one’s performance.  

8) Struggle with boundary-setting

People who have been raised by emotionally distant parents often struggle with setting boundaries.

This difficulty usually arises from their childhood experiences where their boundaries were either not respected or not recognized at all.

As a result, they may find it challenging to assert their needs and establish personal boundaries in their adult relationships. They might also feel guilty or anxious about enforcing these boundaries, fearing it might push others away.

However, setting and maintaining healthy boundaries is crucial for one’s emotional well-being and for fostering respectful relationships.

9) Excessive need for validation from others

The last common trait seen in those raised by emotionally distant parents is an intense craving for validation from others, a direct fallout from the affirmation and approval they missed out on during their childhood.

They might seek constant reassurance from others to confirm their worth or the correctness of their actions. This can lead to a heavy reliance on external validation rather than developing self-validation and self-esteem.

This excessive need for validation can affect their decision-making ability, as they might prioritize others’ opinions over their own judgment or intuition.

Transforming the impact of an emotionally distant upbringing

To those who grew up with emotionally distant parents, know that you’re not alone, and your experiences do not define your worth. It’s essential to acknowledge the impact of your upbringing while also recognizing your inherent resilience and capacity for growth.

You can use this understanding to break free from the patterns that hold you back and to form healthier relationships. It’s important to remember that these behaviors, while shaped by your past, do not define your future.

You have the power to change them.

Taking care of oneself and prioritizing self-growth is essential in this journey. Engaging in therapy or counseling, practicing self-love and self-care, setting boundaries, and working towards emotional intelligence can all aid in this transformation.

It’s never too late to heal from the effects of an emotionally distant upbringing. The journey may be challenging, but the rewards of personal growth and healthier relationships are well worth the effort.

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

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