Love is … simple and complex, confusing and enlightening. It can make you feel like you’re on cloud nine, but it can also give you the feeling that you have fallen into an endless black hole. Love comes in different forms, shapes and colours. Love is an important basic need, one that isn’t taken for granted by everyone.

An important basic need

As a psychologist, I regularly hear stories from people who have experienced a lack of love. Very often in their youth, they mention an absent father or mother. And not because they weren’t physically there. No, not at all. An emotionally absent father or mother is seemingly doing just fine. Children who are emotionally neglected seem to be doing okay to the outside world. They are given food, clothing and are closely monitored. But looks are deceiving. Physical safety is very important to develop properly, but psychological safety is just as essential. Attention, a feeling of security, support, and love are all a part of this. When these things are systematically absent, we speak of emotional neglect. And emotional neglect is a form of child abuse. One that is the most common of all forms of child abuse. Research shows that 3% of children experience child abuse, and 36% of them are emotionally neglected.

Consequences of lack of love

Emotional neglect can have serious consequences later on in adulthood. People who were emotionally neglected, have often received many snarky remarks and haven’t received many compliments for example. This causes them to have very low self-esteem. They feel inferior to others. Or they don’t dare to enter into emotional relationships with others simply because they don’t know how to do it. Or because they find it difficult to trust someone else, they don’t dare for fear of being abandoned.

Psychiatric problems

Understandably, anxiety and mood complaints are common among these people, with all the sadness and loneliness that entails. People who have been victims of emotional neglect also appear to be more likely to use addictive substances, often as a way of coping with their problems. Alcohol and drugs, as well as overeating, soothe their mental pain. Cardiovascular diseases are also more common among this group. Because, of course, body and mind cannot be separated from each other.

Compliment someone or yourself

That is why I would like to make a plea for love! Because love is the fuel that keeps our engine running and gives meaning to our lives. So be kind to others and to yourself. To make it more concrete, an assignment that makes everyone happy: give 3 compliments to different people, or to yourself every day! Because:

a compliment a day, keeps the doctor away


Do you feel like you could use some help dealing with your mental complaints, whether it is concerning this subject or something else? Take good care of yourself, and don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Visit your doctor for a referral to a psychologist. If you would like to know more about treatment via NiceDay, click here.

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Anja Greeven

Director of Health at NiceDay, Cognitive Behavioral Therapist and GZ psychologist in training at Parnassia Groep

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