Home Anxiety Why Don’t I Feel an Emotional Connection with Anybody Besides My Immediate Family?

Why Don’t I Feel an Emotional Connection with Anybody Besides My Immediate Family?

by Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

When I say immediate family, I mean my husband and 3 kids. Anyone else, be it our parents, siblings, relatives or friends, there is no affection or emotion involved. To the point that I cringe at the thought of having to visit them or them visit us. For me, out of sight is out of mind. I could go for months without calling or meeting anyone and I would be perfectly fine with it. When I finally call, it is out a sense of guilt.
I cannot stand any kind of social gathering. Yet I feel for the sake of my kids and their mental well-being, they need interaction with other human beings. I feel they are missing out.If it was just me, I probably wouldn’t have bothered.
I love my husband and kids. But there are days I feel that even with them, if I dont see them for a few days, I’d eventually be ok with it and that is a scary thought. TO realize I am incapable of emotion for anything or anyone.
I keep reading that most of the adult issues have their root in childhood. Does this apply to me, I’m not really sure. But here’s a brief picture of my childhood.
I grew up with my mom and younger brother and we lived with my paternal grandmother and uncles, since my father was working in another country. This is quite typical in our culture.
As a child, I don’t have any memory of negative experiences until the age of 8 or 9. We moved to another house, because of some differences between mom and grandmother. Unfortunately, I was sexually abused by two of my neighbors at this house. People my mother trusted. One a 15-year-old and the other in his late 20’s.
I was doing well at school in academics and athletics. Few years later, that started deteriorating too. I had some publicly humiliating experiences from some of my teachers too. It doesn’t seem like a big deal to me now but to my teenage self it was pretty big. I also had inappropriate touching from strangers while out with friends and I always felt that I was somehow singled out by these characters. I literally felt I had a label on my forehead saying touch me. Thankfully I married to a wonderful man and I’m doing well career wise. Except for this aspect. Help!

The best way to avoid being hurt by others, is to avoid others. For a child, it is intrinsically understood that to avoid being hurt by the bully, you avoid the bully. If you stay away from the bully, the bully cannot hurt you. This is part one of the equation that explains how to avoid pain that comes from others.

In part one, you avoid the pain that comes from others by simply avoiding others. However, it is not that simple. We live in societies. We have always lived in families and extended families or “tribes.” The social nature of mankind, is unavoidable. It is desired and not a negative to be avoided. Absolute proof of this is the popularity and extensive use of social media. Seeking social interaction is natural, universal and the normal way. If it were not so, the many languages of the world would not all contain a word which translates in English to “lonely.”

Pain not only comes from others but the amount of pain that is able to be inflicted by others is not equal. Those we love the most, can hurt us the most and this is the second half of the equation. If a total stranger stops you on the street and tells you that you are a horrible human being, it will probably simply leave you with the thought “how strange.” However, if someone that you love tells you that you are a horrible human being, it is likely to leave you with strong negative feelings, perhaps more commonly described as “feeling hurt.” It is natural for people who are readily vulnerable to being hurt, to avoid those who are capable of hurting them. That being said, it is generally speaking, not natural or desirable to avoid social interaction.

This issue has bothered you enough, that you have written to a psychology website in an attempt to gain insight into the issue. You have expressed worries and concerns in the letter that you have written. Without question, it would be comforting and informative to meet with a qualified professional who can examine this issue in more detail. Good luck.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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