8 Signs You Were Lonely As A Child And It's Affecting You Now

Your low self-worth is harming your ability to connect with others.

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Childhood is made up of some of the most pivotal experiences of our lives. Because the young developing mind is easily affected by the environments in which we grow up, certain experiences and events can leave a lifelong impact on us. 

Needless to say, experiencing loneliness during your developmental years will deeply affect you long-term, and this trauma will show up in several ways in adulthood.


I Go to Therapy took to Instagram to share some of the ways childhood loneliness shows up in adulthood, offering sentiments for fostering self-awareness and self-compassion.

Here are 8 signs you grew up feeling lonely as a child and it's affecting you as an adult

1. You struggle with social anxiety

According to the Mayo Clinic, social anxiety can be caused by bullying, rejection, family conflict, trauma, or abuse.



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Additionally, if you experienced a lack of social connections during your formative years, it can now be difficult for you to feel comfortable in social settings. 

As a child, because you were forced to adapt to your isolation, now it feels foreign to connect with others in your adulthood.

2. You feel you aren’t 'deserving of relationships'

You weren’t able to develop strong, deep connections with others as a child, which has caused you to subconsciously believe you don't deserve meaningful relationships.

Understand that it is not your fault you were exposed to such isolation at a young age. During early childhood development, connection and community are vital.


According to Ambre Associates, lonely children often grow up into adults who view themselves as "unlovable, unlikable, and unworthy of affection, they expect rejection."

3. You're 'extremely independent'

Being a child who felt inconsolably alone, you have had no choice but to depend on yourself. Being independent can be positive in many ways, but sometimes too much independence can lead to intense feelings of loneliness

You might feel you only have yourself to rely on, and it’s hard for you to count on others.

4. You push others away and isolate yourself

When people do come into your life, your fight-or-flight response activates, and you tend to push them away, likely out of fear of getting hurt.


Dr. Amanda Hanson, a psychologist, took to TikTok to explain that people typically isolate themselves from others when they do not value themselves enough.



RELATED: Experts Reveal The Most Common Childhood Complaint They Hear In Therapy

Because they experience low self-worth and self-love, they struggle to show up as their authentic selves and feel the need to “perform” and “put so many masks on.” This can become exhausting, so it feels easier to just be alone. 


5. You struggle with 'walking away from toxic patterns' in relationships

When you find what initially appears as a loving relationship, it can be hard to distinguish certain toxic patterns that could be harming you. Even when you do notice these patterns, you struggle to find the strength to walk away. 



This is because of your anxious attachment, which is rooted in abandonment wounds from your childhood, according to Candace Tamara, a trauma and mindset coach. 

6. You have a 'fear of abandonment'

A fear of abandonment is not only caused by being neglected as a child, but it can also stem from being given false promises and experiencing mistrust from a young age, leading to an insecure attachment style.




This can make it difficult for you to form healthy relationships, as you’ll have trouble trusting others and assume everyone will abandon you. You might also desire constant reassurance and fear intimacy, which can push others away. 

7. You cope with feelings of depression through substance use, overworking, or escapism

Those who avoid dealing with their feelings, responsibilities, and anxiety distract themselves from reality with substance use, working too much, and other forms of escapism, like doom scrolling through social media or going out to the club.



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Some forms of escapism can lead to dangerous consequences when combined with addictive activities, like drug and alcohol use.

However, there are healthier coping mechanisms associated with escapism, like exercising, reading, meditating, dancing, or gardening, which can help nurture the mind through therapeutic activities. 

8. You struggle to form and maintain relationships

One of the main reasons why relationships and friendships can be difficult to maintain is because of a lack of communication. When individuals struggle to communicate their feelings, boundaries, struggles and desires with others, the connection can “break down,” according to behavioral coach Sabra on TikTok.



Because you weren’t taught or shown the importance of healthy, connected communication, you might struggle to form strong bonds with others.


Learn to foster loving self-awareness and give yourself grace for the childhood circumstances that were out of your control.

All of these behaviors are natural symptoms of experiencing childhood loneliness, and it’s important to seek guidance and support from mental health professionals so you can heal.

You might already be aware of these harmful behaviors, so why is it that you feel stuck and unable to grow past them?

8 Signs You Were Lonely As A Child And It's Affecting You NowPhoto: charnsitr / Canva Pro


The reason why is likely due to your own addiction to shame, a response that was adopted from the experiences that affected you as a child, according to therapist Flynn SkidmoreSkidmore explained that there are two types of awareness: shameful awareness and loving awareness.

By learning to “take all of your awareness, all of your capacity for intellect, and transform that into loving awareness” you will be able to approach self-sabotaging patterns from a place of love.

Save yourself from the punishment you were forced to endure in your early years and reconnect with that inner child who is yearning for love and connection. Once you can learn to do this, you can embrace your authentic self and show yourself the love you deserve.

Being a child doesn’t have to hurt. If you suspect a child you know is being abused physically or emotionally, contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline for more resources at 1-800-4-A-CHILD.


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Francesca Duarte is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team based in Orlando, FL. She covers lifestyle, human-interest, and spirituality topics.