5 Subtle Signs You Grew Up In A Household That Didn't Show Affection — And It's Impacting You Now

A lack of affection in childhood can deeply affect your future relationships.

Couple arguing on couch and one partner not listening. DimaBerlin via Shutterstock

A lack of affection in your childhood can deeply impact your future relationships, whether romantic or platonic. It can make it difficult to understand affectionate cues, show affection, and even accept affection from those who care about you.

Here are 5 subtle signs you grew up in an unaffectionate home and it's impacting you now:

1. Strong boundaries

Individuals who grew up in an emotionally absent home tend to have a thick wall of boundaries surrounding them. This helps to provide a shield against potential hurt and upset. These individuals become very aware of their needs and wants in relationships. Building strong boundaries is an act of self-protection and a strong expression of emotional independence.


Emotionally independent people prefer to handle their emotions on their own and may find it difficult to let others through their walls to help understand their emotions. They foster a strong sense of independence and self-sufficiency.

@sheisfila Here’s why it’s so hard for you to set and enforce your personal boundaries… You were taught growing up that your needs are not important. And you’ve carried that into your adulthood & adult relationships. If you want to confidently set healthy, strong, powerful personal boundaries, apply to join my signature coaching program, Sacred Queen Academy at the link in my bio.#lifecoachfila #boundaries #lifecoachforblackwomen #blackgirlmagic #settingboundaries #healthyboundaries #relationshipcoachfila #blackwomenhealing ♬ original sound - Fila | Relationship Coach

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2. Fear of vulnerability

Growing up in an unemotional home can significantly impact one's perception of vulnerability. In such an environment, expressions of emotions might be suppressed or dismissed, leaving children feeling invalidated or unseen when they try to express their feelings. This can be shown through a lack of emotional expression and fear of rejection.

This can include emotional rejection, where the child’s emotions are not accepted and taken well when expressed. Because of this, they have difficulty opening up and can have an extreme fear of vulnerability when talking to others about their feelings.

3. Difficulty controlling and understanding emotions

Growing up in an unemotional home can have significant implications for emotional development and regulation. Lack of emotional guidance or the invalidation of emotions can create confusion and uncertainty about their emotions and what they mean.

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On some occasions, invalidation can be unintentional, especially if the parent also has trouble understanding their own emotions and does not know how to handle their child’s emotions. It can be caused by experiences while growing up, which some would call “generational trauma”.

4. Struggling self-esteem

Growing up in an unemotional home can profoundly impact self-esteem, often leading to struggles in this area. This can be caused by a lack of emotional nurturing and validation from parents. Children also learn to model their parents' behaviors, so unemotional parents can create unemotional or low-emotion expressive children.

The absence of affection or emotional support can leave a child feeling unimportant and unworthy, which contributes to low self-esteem, which will follow the child into adulthood. Difficulty with self-esteem can increase when the child enters high school and faces issues there as well. Children who have difficulty understanding or feeling emotions tend to have a hard time making friends and relating to others. This fosters a sense of loneliness and being left out of their peers.

5. Difficulty trusting others

A lack of emotional connection and the invalidation of a child’s emotions can make it difficult for them to trust others as they grow up. Trust issues can stem from negative childhood experiences, including trouble with emotions in the home. Difficulty trusting others can have a significant impact on their social relationships throughout life.


Trust issues can cause isolation and fear that the people they care about are going to hurt them. This typically stems from an emotional trauma earlier in life. This trauma could just be an unaffectionate home where the child did not feel loved or whose emotions were not accepted by those around them. This causes distrust and pushing away of those around them.

Growing up in an unaffectionate home can impact the health of your future relationships. 

You may not feel like you can move past the ways that have been instilled in you by your unaffectionate family, but there is always room for growth.

The first step is to acknowledge the trauma instead of ignoring it. Seek help if you need to, and always prioritize your health and wellness.


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Madison Piering is a writer on YourTango's Entertainment and News team specializing in human interest and pop culture topics.