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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Barsky

What Is Emotional Neglect and How Does It Affect You?


When you think of neglect, you may imagine unhealthy living conditions or a lack of basic necessities. Many people fail to realize neglecting someone emotionally is a common type of neglect as well.


If you have not heard of this type of neglect before, you are probably not alone. It is something rarely talked about, especially when it comes to relationships. But emotional neglect is just as valid as any other type of neglect. To learn more about this, keep reading.

Defining emotional neglect

Relationships are a give-and-take when it comes to showing love and providing attention–or at least, it should be. In situations where one member is not receiving the emotional attention that they want and need, it is known as emotional neglect.


This goes far beyond simply ignoring your partner for a few days. True emotional neglect is built up over the years, with continual and repeated offenses from the one performing the neglect.


Most often, emotional neglect occurs in children. Unfortunately, in certain homes, a child’s parent or guardian does not give the developing child the attention they deserve and need.


However, emotional neglect can affect anyone in a relationship in which their needs are not being met. Long-term partnerships or short-term flings can all lead to the emotional neglect of one party if the partners are not on similar pages.

What causes emotional neglect?

Surely, you may be wondering what causes someone to neglect their loving partner emotionally or even a child. Unfortunately, a variety of factors, including untreated mental health issues, can lead to a situation in which someone is emotionally neglected. Suffering from addiction or living with untreated trauma are also contributing factors to emotional neglect.


In addition to the above causes of emotional neglect, there is also the possibility that a parent simply does not have the emotional bandwidth to provide attention to their child. If you are a single parent or have multiple children, you already have a lot on your plate.


Sometimes, you may let someone slip through the cracks. This is no fault of your own, although try to ensure you are not providing one child special attention over the others. Do the best that you can with what you have.

Ways emotional neglect affects you

Growing up, experiencing emotional neglect can leave lasting emotional scars. Developing emotional neglect as an adult will also have an impact on you. Some of the noticeable effects of emotional neglect include:

  • Lowered self-esteem: If you did not receive the love you deserved from your partner, it will certainly have effects on your psyche. One of the most obvious ways you can see this is through your self-esteem. Experiencing emotional neglect may have you fearing that you are not worthy of love or deserving.

  • Increased levels of distrust: This can be obvious through the way you act in relationships for the rest of your life. If you experienced emotional neglect as an adult from your partner, you may not trust someone else in a relationship for a very long time.

  • Mental health conditions: Any trauma you experience as a child could have adverse effects as an adult, including emotional neglect. Regardless of when you experienced the neglect, though, you will may have an increased risk of developing anxiety or depression.

Regardless of how or when you experienced emotional neglect, two things are true: you are deserving of love and you can move past this. It may be helpful to expand your support network to include a mental health specialist.


I am happy to walk down the path of stronger mental health with you; reach out today to get started.


For information on therapy for depression, check out the link.


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