We aren’t born unloveable. There is no human who has some bigger right to be loved than others.
It’s simply that we are raised in environments that don’t teach us how to communicate and behave in ways that allow love in. Or are taught to believe things about ourselves and others that mean we push others away.
We are not essentially unloveable. We have simply not been taught the skill of loving and being loved, or of believing we deserve love. But these are skills we can learn.
Feeling unloveable often arises from childhood trauma. When we experience something like abuse or neglect, our child mind, in an attempt to understand what is happening, can assume we did something wrong. It’s all our fault.
As adults, we know better. But our negative assumptions, unless we take time to dig it out and heal our past experiences, can remain lodged in our unconscious mind. Deep down we still believe we are flawed, no good, and yes, unloveable.
So we act out. We push people away, or declare we don’t believe in love and think relationships are stupid. We are lonely and miserable, but we try to pretend otherwise.
Sometimes it’s not trauma related but because we are born with a brain that sees things differently. We don’t think or relate like others, who seem like alien creatures to us. So connection can be more difficult for us This is called having a personality disorder.
Or we might be on the autism spectrum. It’s not that we can’t love, it’s that our view of relating and love might be very different. We want to connect in a different, perhaps less emotional way.
It can feel easier to pretend we don’t. That we like being all alone, that we are too smart for something as ‘silly’ as ‘love’, or even friends. "I don’t need anyone", we boast.
Actually, you do, according to science. Humans are after all more pack animals than anything. We lived in tribes.
Research now links connection with others to not just better mental health, but to better physical health and longevity. Social isolation, on the other hand, is shown to increase depressive symptoms and mortality.
So while at first it might feel easier, over time, refusing love is increasingly complicated. Loneliness leads to depression, and we pass our days in a sort of numb fog. We don’t live up to potential. It’s like we are withering, a plant without water.
Again, relating issues can involve a deeply entrenched belief system, and repressed emotions around difficult experiences. Or it can be our entire life perspective we need to challenge.
So learning to love takes time. It involves unlearning strong habits. Accepting we might be more like other people than we have wanted to believe. Letting ourselves be vulnerable, or even get hurt.
So first and foremost it requires courage, and admitting we don't know everything, after all.
Then it becomes a process of education and support. We live an a world were information is more readily available than ever before, and there are many, many good books on how to relate to others and open up to intimacy.
A talk therapist can help you recognise who you are now versus who you were then, and to see where you are overreacting. They can help you learn to communicate your wants and needs in healthy ways, and set clear boundaries.
And therapy itself is a relationship. Some types of therapy even use the client therapist relationship as a tool to consciously practice new ways of relating, that you can then take out into the world.
While all types of therapy help you feel more at ease with yourself and improve your communication with others, relating is such a big issue for so many that these days there are several types of therapy that focus exclusively on it. This means both in the romantic sense as well as with friends, colleagues, and family.
Time to open up to love? Use our easy booking tool now to find a therapist you like and start talking.