Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

The Myth of Being Unlovable, Part 1

Not enough or too much?

RenaudPhoto on
Source: RenaudPhoto on

When we are feeling unloved, our mind makes up a story about how unlovable we are, filling in details about our supposed faults: not being attractive enough, not being intelligent enough, not being interesting enough, and not being professionally accomplished enough are all popular explanations in the “not enough” realm.

And then there is the “too much” realm. I’m too much trouble, too much drama, too sensitive, too neurotic, too angry, too needy, too flawed, too much unfinished business, and too many wounds are all explanations that we imagine.

There are many others; these are merely examples of some popular notions. Any place in us that is tender and vulnerable that we feel too much or not enough, where we feel inadequate, flawed, guilty or ashamed, is where our mind will tend to go in those dark moments of doubting that we are lovable. It is possible that none of what our mind is making up is true at all. Or perhaps there is a grain of truth there, and our mind is blowing it up to ghastly proportions.

We are not that different from the little child who was not adequately loved by his parent. If he was abused or neglected, he could not afford to see that it was his parent that was deficient. It is much too frightening for a child to see the person (who is in charge of their well-being) is not up to the job. The terror of facing that truth would be too destabilizing for the child. So he explains the unloving behavior by making himself bad and wrong. “I’m dumb; I misbehave; I’m not good looking, etc.” This form of thinking can become a mental habit that we take into adulthood.

A child does not have the life experience and sophistication to say, “It’s too bad that my parent is so limited that they can’t appreciate how wonderful and lovable I am.” But an adult’s life is not as vulnerable as the dependent child’s. An adult has more life experience, varied resources, and support available. The ability to think issues through is more developed. Options are available to the adult to question their assumptions about being unlovable. Other vantage points for viewing the situation exist, such as:

  1. Perhaps they do love me and are just preoccupied by other concerns right now.
  2. Perhaps they love me and just don’t know how to show the love they feel in their heart.
  3. Perhaps I haven’t been clear about how I delight in having love shown to me.
  4. Perhaps others have previously hurt this person when he opened up leaving him feeling inhibited in showing the love he feels.
  5. Perhaps I have issues about my own worthiness and his ignoring me activates those issues.
  6. Perhaps I do need to develop myself in this particular area to more fully trust that I am indeed lovable. I can accomplish this.
  7. Perhaps she actually doesn’t love me. We could be a mismatched pair, with only love on one side. But that doesn’t mean I’m unlovable; there are others who can love me.
  8. Perhaps he is inexperienced in showing the love he feels and we can learn together to be artful lovers.

The shift in perspective from believing that we are unlovable to knowing that we are lovable means a great deal. Inserting the "perhaps" into our thinking frees us from the grip of thinking the unpleasant, sometimes downright tormenting thoughts that we are unlovable. When we question our own belief and look more deeply to see what’s really true, we open our mind, which can assist us in the process of placing responsibility where it actually belongs and not take on more than is rightfully ours.

Once we begin to emerge from the trance that we are enveloped by when we believe that we are unlovable, our motivation grows stronger to learn to permanently escape from the painful grip of the old beliefs that do not serve us.

Find Linda and Charlie Bloom at their website, and be sure to pick up their third book, Happily Ever After ... and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams.