Home » Blogs » Childhood Emotional Neglect » Do You Have Any of These 3 Relationship Problems?

Do You Have Any of These 3 Relationship Problems?

  1. Do your relationships seem to fade away after a while?
  2. Do you feel like you’re friendly and outgoing, but it’s still hard to connect with people?
  3. Do you generally try to avoid people, but sometimes secretly wish you had more people in your life?

If you said yes to any of these questions, it may be that the world is telling you something. It’s sending you a message that something is just not right.

You may feel that you are trying your hardest, and that others are distancing from you or rejecting you. But now, I ask you to consider the possibility that the truth may be the opposite. That other people aren’t rejecting you; and that instead you are, unconsciously, not letting them in. 

I have noticed that many who feel they are being shut out actually are emotionally walled off. They just don’t know it.

Now let’s talk about each of these problems, and take a look at what is actually, probably, going wrong for you.

1. Your relationships tend to peter out after a while.

There is a secret to keeping relationships alive. People who know this secret don’t know that they know it. They just know. The secret is that relationships have to be fed, if they are to survive. How do you feed a relationship? You supply it with plenty of emotion. Emotion, as I have said before, is the fuel that relationships run on. If one or both members of a friendship or relationship hides or represses his true feelings, that relationship is, sadly, doomed. The members will drift apart, get bored, begin to feel distant. Eventually, it may stop altogether.

Emotions drive people. Feeling connects people. If you grew up in a household where your feelings were not responded to enough, (Childhood Emotional Neglect, or CEN) you may have walled off your feelings, to get them “out of the way.” Now, as an adult, you are missing them when you need them the most: in your relationships with others.

Don’t get worried, there are answers. Keep reading!

2. You are friendly and outgoing, but it’s still hard to connect.

We already know from reading the last paragraphs that feelings are the binder and the driver of relationships. If you behave in a friendly and outgoing way, people may be drawn to you briefly. But if they don’t receive something genuine and rich from you in the way of feeling, they may not be able to feel connected with you enough to bind them to you. They may not feel driven enough to seek you out again.

So if your genuine emotions are not readily available to you and others, and if you did not learn emotion skills in your childhood, (likely a result of Childhood Emotional Neglect, or CEN) then you may be missing a vital ingredient that others automatically have. It’s only natural that you may be left feeling disappointed and confused.

Do not fear. Keep reading!

3. You generally avoid people, but sometimes wish you had more.

If this is you, you may think it’s no big deal that you sometimes wish you had more people in your life. You may treat it as a fleeting wish, and nothing more. But in reality, this wish is a reflection of your deepest, most alive self. And you should listen to it.

Of the 3 struggles we are talking about today, this one is the marker for the most ubiquitous Emotional Neglect in childhood, or CEN.

If your emotions were discouraged or ignored enough in childhood, you may be so far out of touch with them by now that they are not able to drive you toward their greatest need: relationships. Your emotions are a fountain inside of you, and even though your fountain may seem dulled, it is still flowing full force, I assure you. But the fountain is flowing behind the wall you built in order to cope in your childhood home.

You have the feelings, you only need to learn how to accept them, understand and use them. I have walked many, many people through this process, so I know firsthand how very possible it is.

What To Do

When you are struggling with the effects of Childhood Emotional Neglect, but are not aware, you are at its mercy. You puzzle and try, and puzzle again and try some more. Somehow, you probably end up feeling that others are rejecting you.

What you don’t know is what you can’t remember: that you were not allowed enough of the right kind of emotional connection as a child, and you were not taught the cascade of emotional skills that are required to form, and maintain, deep, rich, energizing connections with people.

But once you understand that there’s an explanation for your problem, that it’s not your fault that you have it, and that you can learn the skills, it changes everything. You realize that you haven’t been rejected, you’ve only been, unbeknownst to you, walled off.

You realize that there is a way to break down your wall, welcome your True Self to the table, and begin to share in the richness that others have been enjoying all along.

And then you realize that you are you, that you are good enough, and that you do, indeed, have what it takes to be connected.

CEN can be subtle and unmemorable, so it can be difficult to know if you have it. To learn if you are living with CEN, and how to heal it, Take The Childhood Emotional Neglect Test. It’s free.

To learn how Childhood Emotional Neglect affects your relationships, see my new book, Running on Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships.

Do You Have Any of These 3 Relationship Problems?

Jonice Webb PhD

Jonice Webb, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist who is recognized worldwide for her groundbreaking work in defining, describing, and calling attention to Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). She writes, speaks, and trains therapists on the topic, and is the bestselling author of two books, Running On Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect and Running On Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships. She also created and runs the Fuel Up For Life Online CEN Recovery Program. Since CEN can be difficult to see and remember, Dr. Webb created the CEN Questionnaire and other free resources to help you figure out if you have it. Take the CEN Questionnaire and learn much more about CEN, how it happens, and how to heal it at her website

20 comments: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Webb PhD, J. (2017). Do You Have Any of These 3 Relationship Problems?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2019, from


Last updated: 5 Nov 2017
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.