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Incapable of Love? 21 Signs & Reasons for Emotional Deprivation Disorder

Does it seem everyone around you experiences love but you? If you feel incapable of love, you could have an Emotional Deprivation Disorder.

incapable of love emotional deprivation disorder

They say that love is one of the best feelings in the world. It may sound cheesy and clichéd, but love is one of the great moving forces. It inspires us to do an equal measure of both touching and stupid things. They say love occurs to us naturally because you don’t need to think to feel love. You just do. But some people feel incapable of love, and that could be an emotional deprivation disorder.

Some people have no idea what it actually means to experience love. They are single up to this point, and all of their efforts to date or have a relationship fail. Some just dwindled, while others ended horribly. This leads to giving up. Why chase such a foreign concept?

As far as they are concerned, they are incapable of love. But they really might be suffering from Emotional Deprivation Disorder. [Read: Unlucky in love? How to turn things around]

Are you incapable of love?

Are you really incapable of love or not? Sometimes you can feel so lonely that you convince yourself that love isn’t for you. You haven’t found it yet and don’t see that pattern ending anytime soon.

Well, loneliness does not mean you’re incapable of love. Having a string of failed relationships also doesn’t mean that. Being incapable of love is usually a much deeper issue than being single for a long time.

Don’t let a cycle of failed relationships lead you to believe you’re incapable of love. It could just be a phase. Or you could have an emotional deprivation disorder. [Read: How to find the right person when you’ve given up all hope]

What is Emotional Deprivation Disorder?

The concept of Emotional Deprivation Disorder sounds like the description of that brooding lead from a romantic drama: hopeless, frustrated, anxious, and burdened with a lot of past issues.

But despite the trope, it is an actual condition summarized as “the inability to form mature relationships with others.” While that clause instantly brings romantic relationships to mind, EPD also affects other types of relationships, including those with one’s friends or family.

Emotional Deprivation Disorder is the difficulty to form relationships. The person is incapable of love but still wants to have friends or ends up with someone, but they find it challenging to connect with others, let alone sustain the relationship they just formed. [Read: 20 downright strange but true phobias about love]

What causes Emotional Deprivation Disorder?

Just like most mental disorders, negative childhood experiences or relationships lead to EPD. These early negative experiences would be further reinforced by more negative experiences as the person grows, manifesting as EPD later on in their adult life. If you feel incapable of love, read on.

1. Neglect from primary caregivers in early life

People with EPD often experience neglect from parents or similar parental figures. A person’s emotional maturity develops from constant nurturing interaction with parents during childhood.

Without this, their emotional maturity becomes stunted. [Read: 13 ways to stop feeling neglected by the one you love]

2. Being ignored or rejected in their early life

Anyone who’s had interactions with kids would know how desperate they are for an adult’s attention and approval. For a kid to be openly rejected and isolated by others, especially their own family, has severe repercussions for their emotional development.

This negative experience makes them feel unwanted, and they feel incapable of love and isolate themselves as a result.

3. Constant criticism and verbal abuse

A person’s emotions are most sensitive during childhood, and any harsh words affect them later in life. In the same way, constantly criticizing them without a single word of approval not only alienates them but also impacts their self-esteem and sense of self-worth.

4. Lack of “love” in general

We learn to love while we are young, and we understand it from our immediate family. So if someone either has no family to experience it from or a lack of love in other forms, they have no concept of love to bring to their adult life. [Read: 32 weird but true psychological facts about love no one seems to know]

5. Fear of intimacy

Being intimate means being vulnerable. When someone is afraid of being seen for who they are without any more walls up, it can be horrifying for them. They feel incapable of love because they are too scared to get that close to anyone. It can be caused by tons of issues in someone’s past.

6. Low self-esteem

Low self-esteem can be brought on by one’s family life, school, bullying, and more. When you don’t believe in yourself, you don’t know why anyone else would. Therefore, if you don’t love yourself, you feel incapable of receiving love from others.

When you struggle with low self-worth, you attract people who use that to their advantage. They see it as a way to make themselves more powerful. They make that person feel useless without them and their attention. This becomes a pattern and can worsen emotional deprivation disorder. [Read: Signs of low self-esteem and how to make it better]

7. Dependency

When someone is dependent on others for everything, they don’t see what they bring to the table. Whether they rely on others for money, care, or attention, they don’t know how to depend on themselves.

When you don’t believe you can handle life on your own, you don’t feel capable of love because you need to rely on someone, not love them. [Read: How to be emotionally independent and stop relying on others for happiness]

8. Fear of rejection

This is a classic, and we have all been there. The fear of rejection is strong.

It can come from a parent leaving, a loved one dying, or a partner leaving. The pain that comes with being left for any reason can poison the potential for love in the future. It can be so intense it leads to emotional deprivation disorder.

9. Addiction

Addiction to drugs, alcohol, or anything else is powerful. It messes with friendships, romances, and familial relationships. that addiction overpowers any relationship or possible one. So, when you struggle with substance abuse, it can remove your chance of loving anyone more than your vice. [Read: The stigma of mental illness]

10. Perfectionism

Being incapable of love can come from a need for perfection. You will never see anyone as wonderful as you’d need to in order to love them.

Instead of admiring them, you will always criticize them. You can be a serious romantic, which means you have this idea of the perfect love in your mind, and it is so intense, and you hold onto it so tight nothing will ever live up to that.

Signs you might have Emotional Deprivation Disorder

Now, don’t go jumping to any conclusions. Emotional deprivation disorder isn’t all that common. And maybe you are incapable of love, but that can be temporary.

However, these signs of an emotional deprivation disorder should encourage you to dig a little deeper. Finding a therapist, you click with could be the first step.

1. You feel no pleasure in social interactions

People with EPD find no immediate joy in social interactions, and as a result, they are loners who don’t initiate any social interactions on their own.

2. You tend to find activities that don’t require any social interaction

Either you are a hermit who stays mostly in your apartment, or you enjoy long camping trips in a very isolated cabin. Your activities are primarily in the introvert’s list of hobbies. [Read: Don’t stay stuck – 16 strategies to get your shit together]

3. You feel aversive in a group

Due to past experiences of being judged, criticized, or abused, people with EPD tend to avoid groups in general. When the inevitable happens, and there is no choice to be in a group, they feel isolated and uncomfortable.

4. Feelings of insecurity

You criticize yourself over and over, blaming yourself often when something goes wrong. People with EPD often have a negative perception of themselves and their impact on others.

This type of insecurity also prevents them from forming romantic relationships or belonging in a group because they feel they are not “good enough.”

5. You’re constantly single because you think that nobody would like you

Due to insecurity, people with EPD feel unattractive, inadequate, or unlovable, even if that is not the case. They often set unrealistically low opinions of themselves and their capabilities. [Read: Why does nobody love me? The truth you need to understand about yourself and the people around you]

6. You’re obsessed with pleasing people

Since they have low confidence and self-esteem, people with EPD constantly worry that their close friends or special someone will leave them.

As a result, they tend to go to uncomfortable lengths to please people, even against their well-being. [Read: People pleaser – 20 common signs most people just don’t see]

7. You are constantly worried about the opinion of others

You tend to take sides against your argument and oppose something you believe in, just to fit in. You also change your appearance and act to please others, even if that is not what you want.

8. As a result, you’re prone to be manipulated or used

If you’re unlucky, the person you adore so much and work so hard to please realizes your condition and abuses your obsession with pleasing people to their ends. [Read: 16 reasons why you’re always taken for granted]

9. Romantic grief cycle

A. you want someone so bad; B. someone comes along; C. you can’t and won’t entertain it because you feel that you’re unlovable anyway; D. how you wish you had someone; D. rinse and repeat.

10. You are suspicious of romantic gestures and advances

When someone makes a move, you’re immediately incredulous. Since you think you are inadequate and unlovable to receive such advances, you believe they have ulterior motives. This kind of suspicion makes you isolate yourself even more. [Read: How to remain hopeful while dating]

11. You’ve resigned and prepared yourself to be single for the rest of your life

Instead of dealing with your problems and your issues, your solution is to accept the fact you’re incapable of love. And you settle for a life without a partner.

The thing about all of these signs of emotional deprivation disorder is they aren’t based on reality. Sure, they have dug themselves into your psyche through your past, but they aren’t set in stone.

You can work through this and stop feeling incapable of love with the help of a therapist and the willingness to do the work. Sure, you’ll have to take some risks, but actually experiencing love, and healthy love, is worth it.

[Read: Feeling unloved? 21 ways we feel less loved and how to feel love again]

Love is simple, but people are complicated. The predisposition towards love is so deep-rooted we are fighting for it, go crazy without it, and mourn if we lose it. If you feel incapable of love, try to find the root cause and start from there.

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The editorial team of LovePanky comprises relationship experts and real-life experts that share their experiences and life lessons. If you want the best love ad...