When You Don’t Feel Loved Enough in Your Relationship

When You Don’t Feel Loved Enough in Your RelationshipMost of us spend our entire lives looking for love.

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.

And yet…

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.

  1. You’re better at giving love than receiving it.

True story:

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.

  1. 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.


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18 thoughts on “When You Don’t Feel Loved Enough in Your Relationship

  1. Elvia said:

    James, I really really like this article!! It validates my thoughts that I have questioned myself about. My ex-husband didn’t feel loved and found it harder and harder to show/give me love which I craved and eventually became bitter. I loved him very much and felt that the things I did for him and our children and home were so evident of my love for him. His many insignificant complaints about “us” never made sense and he pulled away more and more over the last few years. He had an affair with a woman 15 years younger. When I found out, he told me he hadn’t loved me for years. I filed for divorce (after 30 years of marriage) and within a year he married the woman. Of course I was devastated and through my mourning and healing times, I realized that he just wasn’t capable of receiving love and that he really didn’t love himself and couldn’t love me. Maybe he has found someone he can love without reservation, who knows!

    • Lorna (LaLa) said:

      Elvia, I am SO sorry for your sadness. I went through a similar experience with my ex-husband of almost 40 years. I believe he has Aspergers Syndrome and is incapable of showing emotion (although they apparently do still feel it). He did exactly the same as yours – going on the internet to find another woman immediately we split up. She told him he has Aspergers (she was a teacher) and they didn’t last long – but he now has a woman in his life who he does not live with, but they have been together now for a number of years, doing stuff together. I doubt if your husband will find lasting happiness with someone else who is that much younger than him. Especially as he could not find it with you. Probably she is desperate, and clinging on! But it is good that you seem to have come to a sympathetic understanding of him, and seem to have forgiven him. I think that is the only way for US to heal and move forward. That is important. Understanding and forgiveness is everything, I believe. I hope it will help you to find some peace and contentment, moving forward into your future, and you are able to find joy without him. Best wishes. Lorna

  2. Lorna (LaLa) said:

    James, I believe you are right – and it’s taken me this long to realize it. Because my first love from age 15-19 ended our relationship at his parents bidding when he went off to college, and then 4 years later my fiance also ended our relationship 6 months after our engagement – 45 years ago when I was 23 – I unwittingly put a barrier around my heart, so it wouldn’t get hurt again. I married my husband one year later – thinking that what I had with him was “good enough”. He was keen to get married, so I thought it would work. But it really wasn’t enough. 36 years later we separated and divorced. He was newly retired and seemed to want his freedom. And worst of all, he wouldn’t talk about things. I fervently believe that it is SO important to talk things through, but he never would. When I look back – I think I never really appreciated what he did for us as a family. Never told him how wonderful he was and never told him I loved him – because I didn’t in the “bells and whistles” sort of way. I greatly admired him, but never felt that all-encompassing, overwhelming, wholehearted “love” I have felt for another man since. He found it hard to show his love, too, as I believe he has Aspergers Syndrome. He showed his love in giving his absolute all – and then some – to his family, working himself into the ground with a demanding job in the day and re-building our old house at all other times.. But he was almost unable to be affectionate romantically and sexually. The “Five Love Languages” theory by Gary Chapman is very helpful. Relationships are so complex. What a pity they don’t teach this stuff in schools. It is so much more important than any other subject, I believe. Most of us never get an insight into how it all works. Or possibly when it is too late. Many thanks, James, for your invaluable wise words. Incidentally, I have written to my ex husband telling him how much I admired him, but I didn’t get a response. At least I told him!! Lorna

    • Lorna (LaLa) said:

      PS – I’ve got the “I Heart Me” book by David Hamilton- I’ll get it out and read it again!! Thanks. Lorna

    • James Bauer said:

      Lorna,

      Thanks for sharing from your personal experience. It’s lovely to see someone sending out so much love and goodness into the lives of others…even when many others have let you down in so many ways. Never stop being the beacon of light that you are.

      James

      • Lorna (LaLa) said:

        Thanks, James. It’s nice to think of myself as being a “beacon of light” and I do try to spread love and light where I can. I’m hoping to help in a local women’s refuge centre soon, so I am sure that will be very interesting! There is so much heartache in the world. Why can we not all just love each other and be nice? Lorna

        • Lorna (LaLa) said:

          An update. I had my first induction meeting last night with the women’s refuge centre. Oh – I think it is going to be so hard!! The stories the staff were telling us. Heart-breaking. I just hope I can help in some small way. What worries me is the effect some of this trauma will have on the innocent children. I do believe they will carry some of the scars for the rest of their lives. There certainly needs to be more awareness of what is going on behind closed doors. I guess we have to learn that we cannot change the world, but if we can make a small difference, it is surely worth it? Your articles do help. I just wish there was more awareness, generally. We need to get into the schools, but I was told that most schools do not want to open that Pandora’s box. Surely ignorance will only allow this sort of abuse to perpetuate? How can we get the message across to more people? Do you have any thoughts on this, James? Lorna

  3. Anette said:

    If you combine this approach of self love with the theory of the “5 Love Languages” you can’t go all wrong here…

    For a long time I was annoyed in my prev. relationship, didn’t think I deserved that much love, so I rejected my ex showing feelings for me. With time he just kinda stopped. And I came out of the relationship, blaming and hating myself.

    Then I met this great guy whom OBVIOUSLY wanted me as his girlfriend. But because it was too early for me to let love in I treated it/him as just a fling. Luckily he held on to me (I am practising the respect principle too, great work by the way, James!) and just now I’m coming to a closure on the past and realizing I have been closed off from love because… love hurts like hell when it’s a bad relationship. I didn’t allow myself to open up to be loved and love again. So this guy, patient as he must have been!, will be blessed with a woman very soon who will be able to be a girlfriend and hopefully be able to commit more deeply to him. For the forst time in what feels like years, I feel ready to be open to recieve love… it’s like a fresh breath of air….. 😊

    • Lorna (LaLa) said:

      Anette, It is so lovely to read your open and honest respose to this article.Yes, it takes time, sometimes a long time, to get to really know oneself and be honest with ourselves. It is wonderful that you have reached a place now where you can allow love in. Yes, it is scary to be that vulnerable and allow yourself to possibly be hurt again, but the old adage “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” is so true. If we keep ourselves “safe” by not allowing love in, we are missing out on SO much. Isn’t that what life is all about – “just to love and be loved in return”? I wish you well, and every happiness in the future. Love, Lorna x

      • Anette said:

        Thanks Lorna to take the time to comment 😊
        I try to be as open as possible, but dang it can be hard sometimes…. I have discovered I also have commitment phobia as well. Blergh! But to be aware is half the battle, right??!

        • Lorna (LaLa) said:

          Yes – you have got it!! (By Jove, she’s got it!!). To be aware is the very first, all important step in knowing yourself. THEN, when you have been absolutely honest with yourself and your FEELINGS, you can work on changing them, if necessary. We hear so often that people do not change. I think that is nonsense. Of course we change – we are constantly changing. If we can change from firstly being a tiny, innocent, vulnerable, trusting baby into a guarded, closed-off adult (for whatever reasons that may have caused that), then we can surely change back from that closed-off adult into a more trusting person? We will never again return to being the innocent baby, because our experiences in life affect our psychy, but we can teach ourselves that not EVERY human being is untrustworthy and about to hurt us. Yes, be vigilent and a little guarded at first – take time to get to know if people are trust-worthy before you give them your entire trust, but try to learn to give them a chance to prove themselves before automatically dismissing them and turning them away. And don’t berate yourself for being commitment-phobic. I think we all are to some extent. That is our innate defense mechanism for self-preservation. We need that, to some degree, or else we would be vulnerable to every person who wants to take advantage of us. And there are people out there who do do this – in all sorts of different ways, for their own benefit. If we can learn to recognize them and steer clear of them, when necessary, we will do alright. You are doing alright. Just try to keep an open mind and keep in touch with your feelings!! There are lots and lots of books you can read for support. Look on Amazon. And keep reading James’ articles. They are excellent! Best wishes. Love and hugs. Lorna x

  4. Lizzy said:

    Hi Guys
    I’m in love with a man who is going through a divorce. I’ve been with him for the past 6 yrs and he seems not to be able to show love. I love him dearly and sometimes feel like withdrawing from this relationship because I’m a communicator and love to share feelings and he never talks about how he feels. Whenever I suggest to him that we must take sometime out, he tells me that “I’m his rock”. I’m not willing to date other men because of what I feel for him. Can you really tell me that he cares without saying it that much? He keeps on saying that he will never hurt me but I just feel that he is not there enough. Can you guys share some insights with me?

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Lizzy. This special report/video might help you decide what to do next. It’s about emotionally unavailable men and what to do when you’re in a relationship with one.

      James

    • Lorna (LaLa) said:

      Lizzy, I hope you will take time to read the messages above. I would suggest that the psychological trauma he is going through at the moment with his divorce will be taking a huge toll on his emotions. He may be feeling guilt, remorse, rejection, uncertainty, jealousy, fear or any number of other emotions. Men keep these things locked away inside, for fear of appearing weak. And how can he explain all that, anyway? He may not even understand himself. There is probably not much room or strength left inside of him to feel and show the love he must obviously have for you, or you wouldn’t still be together after 6 years. He is probably emotionally exhausted. Going through a divorce is not something one can do lightly. Even though it is so popular these days. You don’t say whether you have ever done this yourself. It takes a huge toll. And on you, too. You are probably feeling scared and worried and insecure yourself. If you truly love him, you need to be super-patient and understanding at this time. Do not demand that he shows you love as well as everything else he is going through. This is not the time, either, for you to be making decisions about your future. Just be strong and patient and gentle – a soft place to land – his “rock” as he calls you. True love has no expectatons – it is self-less. And no-one said it had to be easy or devoid of struggles and pitfalls. As James would tell you, that makes a relationship stronger. When the divorce is all over, then you can relax, take a break away together, and gradually see if he is still what you want to have in your life. You will probably not know the real person until he is free of this burden. Do not act in haste. And never forget the old saying “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” – better the devil you know than the one you don’t. Don’t get rid of him too easily, or you may regret it forever. Good luck!! Lorna

      • Lizzy said:

        Thank you Lorna. I thought of this process and that all I need to do is be there for him and relax. It’s hard but you just gave me the courage to be there and do it for him. I love him that much and yeah… love is selfless. I hope this piece is also helping others out there in the same situation. Thank you once again dear! I feel so much better!

        • Lorna (LaLa) said:

          I’m glad my comments were of some help. Don’t play down the fact that YOU will also be going through a traumatic time at the moment, because he is going through his divorce. It has a knock-on effect and creates ripples for everyone involved. Not an easy time for anyone. But your love for each other will carry you through it all. As you say, just be there for him, as he wants you to be, and relax. Try to think of some carefree, fun things to do, to take the pressure off both of you. Best wishes. Love and hugs. Lorna x

          • Lizzy said:

            Thanx again Lorna. I’ll keep working on it as I’ve been with him for the past 6 yrs and he really never did anything for me to doubt that he loves me. I’ll agree that he needs space as long as he needs me, I’ll be there. I love him so much and true… our love will keep us together. When we are together it’s electrifying and awesome! Divorce is not an easy process and he does freak out sometimes but I’ll hold it together! He then assures me that his moments are not directed at me…. so… it will be hard but I’ll hang in there because of the love we share. Ciao for now! I hope others can share their experiences coz I wanna make this work and be strong for him!

          • Lorna (LaLa) said:

            Hi again, Lizzy. I hope when you say that he has “moments” he is not physically abusive? That is another matter altogether. As you say he assures you that they are not directed at you, all you can do is believe him and try to not take it personally. Sometimes we take it out on those nearest to us, because there is no-one else to vent our emotions on, and if he does not like to talk it out, it must be difficult for him. Have you looked up the “Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, to try to work out what your guy’s “love language” is? It is really interesting. These are 1) Words of Affirmation; 2) Gifts; 3) Acts of Service; 4) Quailty time, and 5) Physical touch. If you can understand and learn to speak HIS love language, maybe that will take the pressure off you a bit, about you wondering and worrying whether he loves you or not. And perhaps you can teach him yours. Hopefully they will be the same!! Do, please, let us know how you get on. I wish you all the best. Hang in there for now!! But at the same time, never lose your self-respect. “Girl Power” !! Luv, Lorna

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