Affection is something that everyone needs. It’s a human need, and not just for children.
Parents crave it from their children, partners crave it from each other, friends crave it from friends.
But what about being needy for affection? What if you can never be alone by yourself? What if you feel insecure if somebody doesn’t give you affection?
We all know people who crave affection way too much in an unhealthy way. Why do these people crave affection so much?
There are many reasons why we may find ourselves craving unhealthy amounts of affection or love. This article will explore all the different possibilities!
Plus, a few practical steps at the bottom if you’re feeling needy and want to work on your issues.
And if you aren’t personally needy, I’m sure you know a friend who struggles with neediness.
1 – Inner Void …
One of the reasons why we crave affection is because of an inner void.
This can be caused, for example, by a parent who never provided enough attention, love or validation to a child. Now this child has grown up and the patterns of behavior that he learned from the parent may have led to craving affection.
Understanding why you feel empty inside and why you crave love can help you better understand why these feelings happen and how to combat them.
2 – Trauma
Trauma can result in significant insecurity and distrust in the world.
This is why a child that has grown up with trauma may crave affection so much. If they didn’t get it from their parents, then they will have to find it elsewhere.
For some people this means looking for a partner. But for others it means looking for friends or even other people’s partners. This can be why you see so many people that crave love and attention in an unhealthy way!
Some behaviors that might be an sign of a child (or grown adult!) who experienced childhood trauma are:
- Clinging to their parents all the time
- Getting mad at their parents for no reason
- Being extremely sensitive
- Being overly emotional
- Not understanding why they’re so frustrated
- Why they’re feeling so much anger
For more info on how childhood trauma may effect you as an adult, read this article here.
3 – Neglect / Lack of Affection
Neglect can be a form of childhood trauma.
When a parent provides the child with insufficient care and love then this is neglectful behavior.
Normally you think trauma is active and bad. Like a child being physically slapped or being yelled at. You can even think of trauma as being in a manipulative relationship where the child has to meet their parent’s needs.
However, not all types of trauma are active. Neglect can be the lack of action. .
For example, the parent may provide food for the child but not engage in any other verbal or physical touch. From a technical standpoint this would not be considered neglect. But certainly this is a lack of affection and could lead to an inner void.
Because the child will have no idea why they’re feeling so much anger, frustration or why they’re so sensitive.
You can also have kind parents, but if kind parents are rarely interacting with their child, that will cause the child trauma.
In our stressful modern society the most common example of neglect is when a parent works all the time. They are never home to spend much time with their child.
Here are other examples of parental neglect:
- a parent who never praises their child
- a parent who yells at their children and doesn’t give them the attention they crave
- parents who never ask their children about their day or how they’re feeling
4 – Inner Critic
Inner critic is a term that has been used for many, many years. It’s the critic in your head which judges you and makes you feel bad about yourself.
Inner criticism is one of the reasons why you may crave love.
In response to your inner critic, you look for somebody to make you feel good about yourself. You want them to provide enough validation, praise or attention so that it’s easier to be around your inner critic.
The inner critic can also make you desperate for affection by making you work too hard. For example, an inner critical voice may whisper things like:
- You’re weak for needing rest
- You didn’t work hard enough and don’t deserve to feel good
- You aren’t worthy of love unless you prove it
When you work too hard then you become depleted. When you are depleted then you crave other people’s affection because you feel empty inside.
5 – Perfectionism
Perfectionism can make someone feel empty inside. They may be hard on themselves and they may have a voice in their mind that is always judging them.
Perfectionism makes everything you try a failure.
Even if you succeed then there is always something that is not good enough. In the eyes of a perfectionist, falling short in any degree is a total failure.
This is why some people crave affection so much.
You crave affection from others because you are unable to be affectionate with yourself. Affection from another human can temporarily quiet your inner perfectionist.
You need someone else to give you affection because you can’t help but be hard on yourself!
6 – Lack of Self Care
Not taking care of yourself is another reason why you crave affection.
People who don’t take care of themselves when they need time to themselves are going to feel more abandoned inside.
To create balance in your life, it’s important that you’re able to take care of yourself and give yourself what you need. If you don’t do this then the inner critic is going to grow louder. You will start to believe all those not so nice things that your inner critic tells you about yourself and your abilities.
You’ll be more likely to overwork because why not? You have nothing better to do with the extra time. Overworking leads to not being present and feeling drained and then craving affection.
How can you create balance in your life if you don’t take care of yourself first?
The answer is by taking time off, doing self care, engaging in relaxation activities like meditation.
These things allow more space inside and make it easier to be around others with less anxiety. You won’t have a need for constant validation from others because you’ll be more validated from the inside out.
7 – Low Self Esteem / Sense Of Self
Low self-esteem makes people desperate for affection. If you don’t love yourself then why shouldn’t you crave the approval of others?
Low esteem typically comes from something happening in your past that was painful.
When we have low self-esteem, we often want others to do what we are unable to do for ourselves: show care and attention to our needs.
If others won’t do it or they aren’t available to offer that attention, then why not find someone who will?
We want affection because we feel lonely inside.
To stop craving love and affection you need to do more things for yourself first. You have to start loving yourself before anyone else can truly give you what you want most: validation. It’s almost like you are in a relationship with yourself! So treat this relationship well!
You must work on your esteem so it doesn’t drain as quickly or depend on the approval of others in such an intense way.
Is It Normal To Crave Physical Affection?
Please remember in this article we’re examining desperate cravings related to affection.
For example, when somebody always needs to be the center of emotional attention. Or when someone who is clearly lonely hugs for too long in an inappropriate way.
However we need to remember physical and emotional displays of affection are actually very good!
Why Affection Rocks
Affection is good and healthy because it can give you more physical and emotional intimacy. Physical affection — as long as the recipient is comfortable with it — can be a good way to show a person that you care about them.
It’s why the culture of hugging is so popular because people like to hug each other. It’s also why people love giving massages or why everyone likes a back rub.
Physical affection can help with making someone feel validated in a hug, when they are touched on the arm, when they get a big bear hug or if somebody kisses their cheek.
Affection can also come in the form of holding hands or sitting close. Even just touching somebody’s hand while talking as a way to connect with them emotionally.
All these things make people feel an emotional connection. Connection has so many benefits including:
- Happiness and wellbeing
- Reduced depression and anxiety
- Strengthened immune systems
- Better relationships
How Do I Stop My Craving For Affection?
Nonetheless, too much craving for affection is an unpleasant experience.
An example of why too much craving for affection can be an unpleasant experience is when somebody always needs to be the center of attention.
This person’s neediness could easily alienate others (even their family) and result in them remaining alone. Their loneliness would only make their cravings for attention worse. A lonely negative spiral would result and this person’s relationships would suffer further.
So if you do crave too much affection, then what do you do about it?
Go To Therapy
There is one simple solution. Go to therapy.
In therapy you can work on many of the core issues causing you to crave too much affection.
You can find out why you are so lonely inside and why you keep craving attention from others.
This way, the craving for affection will be resolved. Because you’ll actually address why you feel empty or need to fill an inner void. Your cravings will stop being as intense when there is a core issue that has been resolved.
Therapy also helps people avoid repeating their past mistakes by giving them tools and skills like:
- how to deal with difficult emotions and anxiety thoughts in healthy ways instead of turning these feelings into bad habits like substance abuse
- how to express yourself healthily in relationships and get your emotional needs met
Therapy provides a safe place which helps explore your future goals through identifying what’s holding back progress. All without judgement!
Have More Genuine Connections
This is why it is important to build your own friends (and why I’m always working on building my own tribe). It will help to fill the voids that come up when there isn’t anyone else around for us to rely upon in our lives.
But it is not always easy to have close friends in today’s world. It seems that our culture is so dependent on the use of social media.
Many people seem to be more distracted than they are attentive. Even so, having close friends can help reduce feelings of neediness and attachment.
The first way that having close friends can help you with reducing your cravings for affection is by giving you someone who understands you better than most other people.
Allowing someone into your life, who is your confidant, can be a great way to reduce the need for someone else.
The second way that having close friends helps with reducing cravings is by giving you an outlet.
Allowing yourself to talk about why you are feeling this way is important. It can help ease some of the pain in your chest from craving love and affection all the time.
Craving love and affection is an unpleasant experience that can be caused by past trauma or neglect. However, there are many reasons why people crave this type of attention, some more common than others.
If you find yourself craving affection too much, then try to get help from a therapist. Start working on why you feel lonely inside while also finding ways to make friends in the real world. Ideally you want to find people who will understand your situation better than anyone else and offer support when needed.
The best way for someone to stop their cravings is by addressing, through therapy, why they feel empty or need validation all the time.
Therapy can help you learn how to deal with difficult emotions like anxiety thoughts without turning these feelings into bad habits, like substance abuse or overeating food.
For more information on how childhood influences your eating habits, read my post here.