Love: Feeling unloved in relationships

In relationships where we know our partners actually do love and care for us, it can be frustrating and painful if we find ourselves frequently feeling unloved. This can be confusing for us and could lead to a number of fights or conflicts with our partners, leaving both partners feeling exhausted and hopeless.

When we find ourselves  feeling unloved in our relationships, in spite of knowing that our partners do love us, other factors may be playing a role which could help us understand our feelings better.

How we feel about ourselves often influences how we feel in relationships:

Often we believe that we need to be loved in order to feel good about ourselves. In our adolescent years, we often seek love in order to validate ourselves. If we have low self esteem, we might unknowingly continue this in our adult relationships as well, i.e. trying to meet our self esteem needs through our relationships. In this case, we may react with emotional intensity to whatever the other person does or does not do, because we interpret it in relation to ourselves instead of checking what the reality is. For  example, “He’s yawning because he’s not interested in what I’m saying” as compared to “He’s yawning possibly because he’s tired after working all day. Let me ask him.”

Working on feeling good about ourselves helps us freely share who we are in our relationships. When we’re not looking for approval or validation from others, we experience less  hurt or disappointment in relationships.

We communicate love differently based on what we learn in our families:

Our beliefs of what love is and how we show it, comes from our past experiences. We learn emotional patterns of relating in our families and culture. For eg. Priya’s father would always hug her and her mother would spend hours talking with her. This is how she learns to express love in relationships and in turn expects the same from her partner. So, physical affection and time spent in sharing may become important emotional needs to be met, for her to feel loved in a relationship.  In her partner’s family, love would involve doing things for each other. So for him, someone taking care of his practical needs would make him feel loved.  So if he’s had a tough day, she gives him a hug and sits down to listen to him. Whereas if she’s had a tough day, he offers her a glass of water and is eager to do things for her. Which wouldn’t make much sense to either of them, until they figured out each other’s patterns of relating.

At a big picture level, most of us grasp this fact pretty quickly. What we may forget to act on though, is to pay attention to the ways in which our partner uniquely communicates love and similarly the ways in which he / she longs to be loved.

Without thought or exploration, we would by default expect that our partner has the exact same understanding of love as we do, causing ourselves misunderstandings, hurt and disappointment. Feeling unloved can cause sadness and pain. Feeling unloved in relationships where we are actually loved is unnecessary – we can free ourselves of this illusion by working at understanding our partner better!

If you would like to explore and better understand the emotional needs of you and your partner, you could talk it over in Couple Counselling sessions in a warm, accepting environment.

Talk It Over

About Malavika Dhillon

Malavika Dhillon is a practicing counsellor and co-founder of TalkItOver. She has completed her MBA in Human Resources and an MSc. in Counselling Psychology. Prior to working as a counsellor, she has worked in Human Resources and Leadership Development. She shares that as a counsellor, it is a joy for her to use her strengths to partner with people on their unique journey of self-awareness and growth. She is passionate about well-being and through her own experience, knows counselling to be one of the paths that can contribute to well-being in various spheres of our lives.