Our youth is consumed by it. No matter how much our parents loved us, it’s not the kind of love we crave. Nothing can substitute for romantic love. Dating feels like heaven, except when it feels like hell.
It’s never enough.
You fall in love, it’s amazing, and then it just flatlines. He acts like he loves you, but you’re never quite sure if he really loves you. You don’t feel completely loved from top to toe. You keep yourself braced for the day you’re sure will come, when he decides he’s bored with you and it’s all over.
Why is it so hard to feel loved, even when you’re in a committed relationship?
Two things could be happening.
- You’re better at giving love than receiving it.
Dr. Harville Hendrix and his wife, Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt, made their living talking about what makes relationships last. They developed an influential theory about why we choose the partners we choose. Then they designed a style of couples therapy based on that theory.
And they were on the verge of divorce.
Not only was it humbling for them, but it was humiliating. They were internationally renowned relationship experts! And they couldn’t make their own marriage last?
They decided to give it one more year. Putting all their professional expertise to bear on their relationship, they finally figured it out:
They didn’t feel loved.
A surprising conclusion, to say the least. They’d been together for decades. They were kind, thoughtful, and loving to one another.
But knowing they were loved wasn’t the same thing as feeling loved.
They came to understand that, although one partner can offer love, the other person has to be able to receive it. That’s not always easy to do.
For example, say that your partner never compliments you anymore. You mention it to him. Afterwards, you notice he’s making a noticeable effort to say nice things to you. But his compliments leave you cold. “He’s only doing it because I told him to,” you think.
Or maybe you feel as if you never spend time together. You tell him you wish he’d stay home more, rather than always going out with his friends. So, he arranges to spend the entire next weekend with you. By the end of the two days, you’re snapping at one another. You don’t feel loved; you just feel irritated.
We can invalidate, reject, or block our partner’s loving gestures without even realizing it.
Do it for long enough, and he’ll stop trying. If everything he does to prove his love to you isn’t good enough, he might think, then why bother?
Try to notice, appreciate, and feel the love in the everyday things he does for you. Let the knowledge of his love sink into your heart. He may be showing you love in more ways than you realize.
- You don’t believe you’re worthy of being loved that much.
Dr. David R Hamilton knows a few things about love.
In I Heart Me: The Science of Self-Love, he writes about his tough journey from feeling like he had to make people like him, to realizing that he was enough just as he was.
It’s a journey we all must make. It starts out with feeling you’re not enough. Then you decide you’ve had enough of feeling that way. You step into the self-confidence of knowing you are enough.
Once you’ve reached this stage, you don’t need to make anyone like you. You are okay with yourself, just as you are. You understand that being lovable has nothing to do with achievements or appearance. It’s a gift given to all of us from birth.
Why does self-love matter?
Because you won’t allow someone else to love you more than you love yourself.
It’s almost as if the amount of love you feel for yourself puts a cap on the amount of love you can absorb from others. If someone loves you more than that, you won’t be able to believe it. It won’t feel real to you.
If you want more love in your relationship, then it follows that the place to start is within. Work on loving and accepting yourself.
Loving yourself unconditionally can take a lifetime, but it’s worth it. When you love yourself, you can accept the love other people give you more easily. You know you deserve it.
It might seem counter-intuitive to look within when you don’t feel loved in your relationship. It can be easier to blame him. Instead, look for indications that he’s trying to love you. You might just be amazed at how much love was there all along…waiting to be received.