Feeling loved when you feel unlovable

I follow a couple of mental health pages on Facebook which post a lot of quotes and pictures about living with mental health issues and the impact these have on our lives on a day to day basis.  One of the quotes I see regularly, which I don’t agree with, is that we can’t be loved unless we love ourselves. empathyOn one hand I agree with it, because when we don’t take care of ourselves and our self esteem, we tend to accept people into our lives who aren’t always a good fit.  We accept them because we believe that we can do no better and deserve the treatment that these people dish out.

I do think though that this behaviour does tend to say more about them than it does about us.  While we are in a vulnerable state, there are people who are attracted to this emotional state because they are able to get what they need emotionally from us.  Both parties in the relationship are unable to see how damaging this is for everyone involved.

However on the other hand, I think that it’s presumptuous to believe that all relationship dynamics are this way.  While there are people who take advantage of people when they are at their lowest, there is also the other side of the coin, the people who love and care for people when they are at their most unlovable.

There are people who are able to see through the low self esteem and see the person underneath.  They do not see a person to be taken advantage of, but a person who needs a leg up, to have people believe in them while they are in the throes of depression and unable to see through the lies of a low self esteem.

While I was in the depth of my depression I was completely unlovable.  I’m not saying this as a way to get sympathy, but as the truth of my situation at that time.  I worked hard to push people away and I was an extremely hateful person.  Through those times, when I believed that I wasn’t worth a grain of salt, I still had people in my corner who believed in my worth much more than I ever did.  Without those people I couldn’t possibly have reached a place where I did believe that I was loveable.

I don’t think that you have to love yourself in order to be loved, I just believe that you had to have people in your corner willing to fight when you’ve become unlovable.

Do you believe that you have to love yourself in order to be loved?

Linking up with Jess for IBOT

25 thoughts on “Feeling loved when you feel unlovable

  1. Lydia C. Lee

    This is interesting. My immediate thought was yes – think of the young teen with self loathing and her parent. But when you put the difficult behaviour, pushing people away etc, I guess the best intentioned person eventually gets tired and finds it too hard. Big topic, need to think a little more about it….

  2. Renee at Mummy, Wife, Me

    I see where you’re coming from with this, Tegan and do agree to a certain extent. I think there would be nothing my children could do to stop me from loving them, but as Lydia mentioned above maybe there is a breaking point. I’m not sure. I’m glad you had people in your corner the whole way through, Tegan xx

  3. Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me

    I think I found my soul mate because I started to love and accept myself and not look for someone else. However, I think you have a point though if someone doesn’t see themselves as lovable it takes a special person to hang around and persist to convince them they are. x

  4. Kylie Ofiu

    I can see both sides of this and when in the deepest parts of my depression, those sort of quotes actually made me feel worse because I thought “Well, I don’t and can’t love myself, so no one else will either.” I then ended up in a domestically violent relationship and it all got worse.

    It was love and support of others that helped pull me out and even now when I feel unlovable and my reaction is to push away, those who truly love and care about me see the real me and even though I can be hating on myself, they still love me.

    My kids, there is nothing they could do to stop me loving them. I was a problematic teen and my dad actually had to send me away, but he still loved me and we have a very close relationship now.

    There are many people in my life who feel unlovable but I still love and support them. I know for a fact I have stopped some of them from suicide because despite them pushing me away at times, I still love them and am still there because I know how they feel.

  5. Josefa @always Josefa

    I really love both sides of this post. I think it is important to love ourselves and through that love, we allow others in to our lives and give them a chance to love us. However I also love this “I just believe that you had to have people in your corner willing to fight when you’ve become unlovable.” Even if at that time you don’t think you are lovable, when you come out of it it is worth the whole world to know people were in your corner waiting for you to come out and be loved xx

  6. Kathy

    I think you make a really good point and speak from experience. I think we all need to love ourselves, and in an ideal world, that should be regardless of who loves us. But I can see how the love of another person nurtures our own self-love, especially as you say, in the throes of depression when you can’t see, and don’t show, the good in yourself.

  7. Bec @ Wholly Listening

    I think both sides of this can somehow be right at the same time. Having been the support person of a husband with depression, I know that I loved him even when he felt and acted unloveable. Like you said, I was willing to fight for him, because I knew that depression was a terrible illness he was battling with, and not who he was. But at the same time, I don’t think you can fully experience and appreciate love until you love yourself. Such an interesting post – thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

  8. Lisa

    I think it is easier to be loved when you love or at least respect yourself. I think we do need our support people around us to look beneath the darkness and help us see the light again.

  9. Aroha @ Colours of Sunset

    I think you can be loved while you feel unloveable, but I’m not sure you can love others if you don’t love yourself? Isn’t that another saying? But then, I can disagree with that, too, because during my PND, I still loved my son more than the whole world or life itself. I guess at any stage of life, no matter what someone is feeling, they can still give, feel and get love. But “sometimes, love just ain’t enough”. x Aroha (#teamIBOT woz ‘ere)

  10. EssentiallyJess

    I think you can always be loved regardless. Whether or not you are capable of feeling that love, is a whole different kettle of fish. If you don’t love yourself, it’s almost impossible to understand why someone else would, and yet they still do. Just because we understand things, doesn’t make them true.
    Whether or not your capable of loving others well, when you don’t love yourself, is again another issue. And I would say then, that that’s a lot harder.

  11. Bec @ The Plumbette

    I’m on both sides of this argument. The best thing though if you’re feeling unloved is reach out to those that genuinely do. I really think every person needs a support group that loves them unconditionally no matter what they go through or dish out to others when they’re not well. I think you’ve brought up some good points Tegan. 🙂

  12. Peachy Keen Mumma

    I definitely pushed people away but not on purpose. I was different to you there Tegan. But I get it. I needed the people and I knew it and felt so guilty for not having energy for them. I also had anxiety that I would become unviable to them…

  13. Jodi Gibson (JF Gibson Writer)

    You make a very valid point. I think that in times where we feel unlovable, although others may try to love us we push them away because we think we are unlovable. It takes time to see through the cloudy mist of depression to realise that we are lovable and we can be loved by others and ourselves.

  14. Hugzilla

    Such a profound question. Yes, I think we CAN be loved even when we are feeling unloveable, because other people’s perceptions of us do not necessarily match our own, particularly if our self-perception is distorted for whatever reason xx

  15. Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

    Interesting post!
    I think you need to have a love and respect for yourself in order to attract the right sort of love into your life (we’re talking “lovers” here)
    But then there is the unlimited and unconditional love of a parent or sibling that just happens anyway.
    And of course, if you already have the love of a “lover” then they should be able to love you through the times when you dip and waver.
    So I guess the quote is very general and probably refers to attracting new love into your life.
    But yeah … you’re making us think!
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

  16. Denise

    I really like what you’re saying here. Maybe being loved helps us to love and accept ourselves? None of us is loveable all the time after all. We need those people in our corner to remind us who we really are.

  17. Pinky Poinker

    I think I agree with you Tegan. I know there have been times when I’ve had close friends who have definitely been down on themselves but have had a group of people around them supporting and loving them. Sometimes I suppose humans need other human beings to reach out and show them why they’re lovable.

  18. Toni @ Finding Myself Young

    For the first part of your post I have two words – EX HUSBAND. Enough said.
    I also agree with your second part and for me that was actually my closest friends not a partner or family.
    I think you can be loved when you feel unlovable, but I also think loving yourself does attract the right type of people into your life. If that makes any sense.

  19. Lara @ This Charming Mum

    I agree. If you are lucky enough to have a few good soldiers by your side they will continue to love you at your least loveable. But I see that quote used most often in relation to people looking for romantic love and, in that case, there is probably a good point to be made. I do hate seeing people ‘settle’ for the first person who comes along because they don’t fundamentally think they are worth more.

  20. Grace

    Good question, Tegan. I know when I was at my darkest, I had very little capacity to love myself and the last thing I thought of was whether I was loved. I just wanted to get out of my own head!
    But I think to some degree, you need to want to help yourself through your mental illness if you want to be loved. Whether that means to learn to love yourself again or look for ways to just be mindful of what you’re going through. You’ve really made me think on this now…

  21. Sarah from Creating Contentment

    I agree. At one point I was unlovable. Yet, I think my husband would disagree with this statement. He has always loved me and it is for that, that I try more. I hope that I am becoming someone that can always love now as a result of being unloveable. I want to love others, especially my children, even when they don’t want it and I feel like walking away. Because ultimately, no one in unloveable. Just with some, we need to look harder. Which is saying something about us, not them.

    I love your thought provoking posts. xS

  22. Glenda @ Healthy Stories

    I definitely agree that you can be loved even if you think that you’re unlovable. Children show us that all of the time when they give unconditional love to adults. It’s other adults that make more judgments about what is worthy of love and what isn’t, but as you say, I think that’s more a reflection on them than on us.

  23. Mel Roworth

    You can definitely be loved even though you feel unlovable, you’re just unable to accept it. I guess, for the sake of being pedantic (as I am), the quote should read: We can’t FEEL loved unless we love ourselves.

  24. Afra Feeney

    Love the blog and it’s closing question but also love the responses. Great to see ppl taking time to reflect on the question because I think, in the end, it’s awareness of need. Let me explain – when I’m at the lowest, it’s not knowing my son loves me or how much I love him that gets me through but the awareness that I am in the hole and need to put one foot in front of the other to get out. It’s not until I’m back in the sun that I can appreciate our love. Before I had my son it didn’t matter and I could stay down there as long as I wanted… I’ve just answered the question without realising it. It is my child and knowing that child depends on me (is that love) that drags me out… So yes, you can love and feel loved, even when that black dog is sitting right on your chest!


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