How does a bad childhood affect relationships?

Updated April 17, 2017

The emotional or physical abuse or neglect of a child can leave long-lasting -- at times permanent -- scars. Every child has a right to a safe childhood, free from emotional, mental and physical pressure. A child who is neglected, beaten or made to feel stupid or guilty will be affected in more ways than he can show when he is young. When that child grows up and becomes an adult, the effects of the bad childhood become obvious.

Inability to Trust

A bad childhood makes a child feel insecure and unsafe. This feeling carries on into the adult years -- turning into an inability to form trusting and healthy relationships. The child who has been neglected or abused, or whose parents were constantly fighting, will expect the same from her partner. She becomes the adult who does not believe that her relationship with her spouse or partner can come to any good. This makes her suspicious.

Fear of Abandonment

People who have been abandoned and neglected in childhood by parents fear similar abandonment from their partners, spouses and friends later on in life. This fear makes them unable to adjust and settle in relationships; they expect the relationship to end and may even end the relationship believing it is inevitable. A man whose parents divorced when he was a child might expect his own marriage to end that way.

Violent Temperament

A child who sees violence grows up and may perpetuate the cycle unless counselled in childhood. An unhappy childhood will create unhappy relationships later on in life. If the child was beaten or abused, then she might start thinking that behaviour is normal. Many victims of sexual abuse in childhood rationalise the abuse this way, and may grow up to become an insecure adult, unable to love or give openly.

Dependency and Neediness

An adult who never had love as a child will constantly seek out reassurance that he has it in the relationships that he forms in later life. This neediness and dependence can put a lot of pressure on the partner or spouse who may not be able to give constant reassurances to alleviate the needy person's anxiety. The relationships thus formed are not equal; they are imbalanced. The spouse or partner may feel like a caregiver, with the needy adult playing out his fears from his bad childhood.

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About the Author

Laura Pru began writing professionally in 2007. She has written for Andovar and Signature Magazine among many other online publications. Pru has a Bachelor of Arts in film studies from University College Falmouth.