Emotional deprivation - "nothing ever feels enough"

Why do I feel empty and numb?

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Do you ever feel like there’s something missing in your life? 

You may be relatively happy with what you’ve achieved so far, but whatever you do, you’re left with a feeling of emptiness. It’s like there’s a gaping hole in your life and you can’t figure out what it is.

If you have the emotional deprivation schema, you may think of yourself as a stoic anchor for the people around you. You wear the badge of rationality - someone others can turn to for stability.

Or maybe you always seem to date people who are like this instead. When you first meet someone, there’s an initial rush of excitement and a feeling of, “This is it! This is the one” but a few weeks or months into the relationship, it loses steam. Doubts creep in, leaving you questioning if that perfect match exists at all. 

Even in committed relationships, there’s an underlying yearning - a perpetual search for something more profound. Your partner can never be there for you in the way you want or need them… Nothing ever feels enough.

Why do I feel empty?

The most confusing aspect of this schema is its very nature - it symbolises an absence, making it difficult to pinpoint. Unlike other schemas rooted in tangible experiences, this one stems from a void - something that never transpired. That’s why the main feeling is one of emptiness.

This emptiness is the vacuum of unmet emotional needs.

It is possible that you look back on your childhood relatively positively. Many people with this schema grew up physically and/or financially looked after. Others might not have had that privilege. Yet, the common thread is a lack of emotional attunement.

While your parents might have been physically around, they might have failed to resonate with your emotions or validate your feelings. Maybe you were the mature one, “wise beyond your years”, and adept at responsibilities. But this came at a price - sidelining your emotional self.

Lacking someone who truly acknowledged and validated your feelings, you lowered your expectations. A belief took root: no one will ever truly understand you at a deep level.

See if any of the following sound familiar to you:

“You’re fine!”

“You’re too sensitive”

“Stop being so dramatic”

“Calm down”

“You’re the man/lady of the house now”

“Big girls/boys don’t do that”

“Stop crying”

“Don’t be a baby”

Instead of being validated, your emotions were denied or brushed aside. It’s little wonder you resolved to dealing with your inner world on your own.

Signs you have this schema:

  • You have a pattern of dating cold, depriving partners
  • You don’t expect your needs to be met in a relationship so you never ask for anything
  • You don’t have anyone who emotionally supports you
  • You’re not really sure what your emotional needs are
  • You sometimes mistake chemistry/physical attraction for emotional connection
  • You may drink/take drugs to fill the emotional void
  • You have mysterious and unexplained physical aches and pains

The journey to better relationships starts with you.

Get on demand dating and relationship support.

Rooted in proven psychological principles.

Take a free relationship assessment to explore what’s holding you back.

Find out your Relationship Style