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I Don’t Know How to Be Close to Anyone, and I’m Constantly Blaming Myself for It

Asked by on with 1 answer:

Hello, and thank you for reading this. Ill keep it short and sweet

My parents left me when I was very young and while it I know it was not my fault, I can’t help but feel like if I was a better child or not inherently flawed, I would have parents like most other people. The family member that raised me perpetuated these thoughts rather than fostering a self-loving mentality, and while they saved me from a life in foster care, they did cause emotional harm as well. I grew up with a predisposed fear of abandonment from my parents leaving, and was always afraid that my new family would leave me as well if I did not behave well. I don’t know if they realized how much harm it was causing, but they did constantly remind me how they didn’t have to take me in and that I could always go to foster care if I didn’t act perfectly. The only love I learned growing up was “earned” love by acting how others wanted, and anything else would put me at risk of being abandoned again. The family member that first took me in passed away when I was 16, and a differ
ent family member took me in, but repeated the same behaviors to a much larger scale. After living with them, I had an even bigger fear of not being perfect, because that meant I was unworthy of love.

This has seeped into every aspect of my life. I know it is impossible to be perfect, so I am not deeply close to anyone because I want to protect myself from when they inevitably leave. I’ve been emotionally on my own all my life, so I know how to take care of myself without needing anyone else, or so I thought. I feel very empty inside, and I don’t know how to make friends or keep them. My friendships are shallow and fragile because when others don’t like me, I feel like its because they can see the true me and I am to blame, and when they do like me I go cold on them so they can’t leave me first. I want to feel good enough to be myself and I want to know a love that isn’t based off of how well I can perform for others, but I don’t know what to do. (From the USA)

I Don’t Know How to Be Close to Anyone, and I’m Constantly Blaming Myself for It

Answered by on -


Thank you for your honesty and courage in telling us your history. Everything you say makes perfect sense. The way you were abandoned by your parents and given to others to raise is know to cause many of the emotional and behavioral reactions you are having. Thinking that if you were better, being self reliant, not making relationships easily, trying to be perfect, shallowness in the relationships you have, and going cold on them so they can’t leave you first. ALL of these reactions is part of a larger personality profile that is often associated with the early abandonment of one’s parents.

There are two good books on the subject. One with the title Primal Wounds by Nancy Newton Verrier is the more popular press style, and another one The Primal Wound by John Firman has the research. I think you will find them relevant and interesting.

Finally, since you are in college, I would recommend you talk to the therapist’s at the university counseling center and begin the therapeutic process of getting more of what you want and less of what you don’t. The good news here is that we know a lot about these patterns and reactions and how to provide help for dealing with them. The counselors at the university will know what to do to help you create these changes in your life.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

I Don’t Know How to Be Close to Anyone, and I’m Constantly Blaming Myself for It

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). I Don’t Know How to Be Close to Anyone, and I’m Constantly Blaming Myself for It. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 5, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 20 Jul 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.