Unmet Childhood Needs Follow Us Into Relationships

Love, Heartbreak

Six common core faulty beliefs resulting from unmet childhood needs.

Unmet needs are inevitable as we are products of an imperfect world. Healthy families deal with the hurt of unmet needs as they go along. Dysfunctional families may deny the hurts, ignore the needs and/or blame the child for having needs.

As children we often don't comprehend our needs, it is important that parents understand and validate the needs of a child.  Unmet childhood needs often follow us into relationships. We often unconsciously enter a relationship hopeful that we'll receive the acceptance we missed or the affection we long for or the attention we desire. Hurt is experienced in relationships when these same unmet childhood needs go unmet in relationships or even worse, when we receive the opposite. We receive rejection when we longed for acceptance, coldness when we needed affection; neglect when we needed attention.  We often look to our partners to fill our void and blame them when they can't.  Frustrated and disappointed, we continue in our search for happiness only to find ourselves repeating the same patterns.

Unmet needs contribute to a lack of identity and self-worth; self-defeating attitudes or behaviors may develop. When childhood needs go unmet and unidentified, we tend to repeat the patterns.  Those unidentified and unmet needs become distorted and cause us to form faulty beliefs, shaping the way we view ourselves and the world.  We begin to subconsciously look for or create situations that reinforce our beliefs about ourselves.  We become our own worst enemy.

Here are six common core faulty beliefs resulting from unmet childhood needs:

1. Beliefs centering around feelings of defectiveness generally reflect an inner belief that one is inherently flawed, incompetent, or inferior. These beliefs cause people to withdraw from close relationships in fear that others may discover that they are inherently bad like, I'm not good enough, I'm insignificant, I'm unattractive, and I'm a failure.

2. Beliefs about being unlovable often make us question whether we are truly worthy of love. These individuals may withdraw from relationships or maintain superficial friendships in order to avoid the pain of being rejected by a significant other.  This ultimately leads to feelings of loneliness…. (I'm not lovable, I'm always left out, I don't matter, I'm uninteresting, I'll eventually be rejected.)

3. Core Beliefs based on fears of abandonment usually manifest in a person's assumption that they will lose anyone with whom they form an emotional attachment. These individuals often seek reassurance and avoid confrontations or offering a differing opinion out of fear that others' will abandon them for offering a contradictory viewpoint. (People I love will leave me, I'm unimportant, If I assert myself, people will leave me, I'm only valued for what I do for people, I'm destined to be rejected and alone.)

4. Core beliefs based on feelings of helplessness manifest in people’s fear that they lack control and can’t handle anything independently.  They face difficulties making changes and their sense of powerlessness can cause them to try to over-control the people and world around them.  (I'm helpless, I’m must have control to be okay, I'm weak or vulnerable, I'm needy, Others will manipulate or control me, I don't measure up to others.)

5. Core beliefs based on feelings of entitlement often reflect a belief related to a feeling of specialness that causes individuals to make demands or engage in behaviors regardless of the effect on others. The beliefs can manifest in unreasonable demands that others meet your needs, rule-breaking, and resentment.  (I have to be respected, I deserve attention and praise, I'm superior, If I don't excel, I'm inferior and worthless, I can't end up ordinary, People don't have the right to criticize me…)

6. Core beliefs based on feelings of care taking, responsibility and self-sacrifice believe that they must forfeit their own needs in the service of others.  These individuals often feel guilty, and compensate by putting the needs of others ahead of their own. These individuals often feel responsible for the happiness of others and apologize excessively. These individuals may take pride in their dependability and being needed by others...(I have to do everything perfectly, I've done something wrong, It's not okay to ask for help, It's not okay to have needs, I have to be responsible or no one will be, people will betray me, why I see that others need help, I have to help them, I'm not a worthwhile person, I have to make people happy, It's my fault.)

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This article was originally published at Counseling Boutique. Reprinted with permission from the author.