"I Am Unlovable:" Why you Might Feel This Way and How to Cope

 Young attractive and sad black African American woman sitting depressed at home

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Acceptance and love are fundamental human needs. Abraham Maslow, a psychologist who studied motivation and need, identified “love and belonging” as one of the five essential human needs in order to live our lives to the fullest.

Many people worry that they lack the belonging and acceptance they require to meet this need. They might feel unworthy or incapable of being loved by others.

This article discusses reasons why you might feel unlovable and provides suggestions on how you can cope with this feeling.

What Does It Mean to Feel Unlovable?

“Unlovable,” simply put, means “not lovable.” Someone who is feeling unlovable might experience this in multiple ways:

  • A person might feel that they are fundamentally bad in a way that makes it impossible for another person to love them.
  • Someone who has made mistakes in their life might feel that they do not deserve to be loved, or that anyone who knows what they have done will not love them.
  • A person who pushes people away or engages in self-sabotaging behavior might think that these choices mean they do not deserve love.

It is important to remember that, even if you feel that you are unlovable or unworthy of positive regard from other people, this does not mean that it is true.

Why Would Someone Feel Unlovable?

A person might believe that they are unlovable for many different reasons, and many people experience this feeling at some point in their lives. Reasons why someone might feel unlovable include:

  • Depression. People experiencing depression often experience cognitive distortions or thoughts and beliefs that are not based on reality. When you have depression, your brain might tell you that you are unlovable.
  • Borderline Personality Disorder. People with borderline personality disorder experience an unstable perception of themselves, which might cause them to feel unlovable. They also experience splitting, a type of all-or-nothing thinking which can cause them to see themselves in an extremely negative light.
  • Attachment issues. People develop attachment styles early in life based on experiences with caregivers.Those who develop an insecure attachment style might feel that they do not deserve love from the people in their lives.
  • Abuse. People in emotionally abusive relationships often feel unworthy of love. This is because abusers might tell their victims that they do not deserve better treatment, that they are unworthy of love, or that no one else will want them or treat them better. This is a form of gaslighting.
  • Low Self-Esteem. If your self-esteem is low, you might believe that you do not deserve love or to be treated well by others.
  • Trauma. Many trauma survivors feel unlovable because of the trauma they experienced. They might believe that they deserved what happened and that whatever made them deserve the trauma also makes them unworthy of love.

It is important to remember that, even if you feel that you are unlovable or unworthy of positive regard from other people, this does not mean that it is true.

What Can Happen If You Feel Unlovable?

Feeling unlovable can impact your life and relationships in many ways. People who feel unlovable might engage in people-pleasing behaviors and struggle with recognizing when someone is manipulating or taking advantage of them. This is because they believe that they need to earn love.

A person who feels unlovable might have difficulty setting healthy boundaries. Because humans have an inherent need to be loved and accepted, someone who feels unlovable might feel incapable of setting boundaries because they will sacrifice their other needs in order to make these connections. They might not realize that they deserve to be treated well by the people they care about.

Because people who feel unlovable struggle with setting and maintaining boundaries, and abusive people seek to exploit them. The abusive person will manipulate their victim’s need for love and then mistreat them. It is important to remember that no one deserves abuse, and this behavior is never appropriate or acceptable.

Because humans have an inherent need to be loved and accepted, someone who feels unlovable might feel incapable of setting boundaries because they will sacrifice their other needs in order to make these connections. They might not realize that they deserve to be treated well by the people they care about.

How Can You Cope with Feeling Unlovable?

If you believe that you are unlovable, the first thing to remember is that feelings are not facts. Simply feeling unlovable does not mean that you are unlovable. People with depression, personality disorders, trauma history, and other issues that can cause someone to feel unlovable are not inherently unworthy of love or positive connections with others.

Remember that your thoughts can be inaccurate, and you do not deserve to be abused regardless of who you are. Maintain a support system of people who treat you well and respect you, and work to identify and prevent any self-sabotaging behaviors.

These feelings can lead to spirals of negative self-talk because you might get angry with yourself for having these negative thoughts. It can help to remember that thoughts are not always voluntary, and it is OK to have thoughts with which you disagree or thoughts that are not true.

Notice if you are comparing your experiences and feelings to those of other people. Remember that your emotions are valid even if someone else “has it worse” or seems “more deserving” than you do. Love is not a finite resource, and there is enough for everyone!

Can You Overcome This Feeling?

Yes, you can overcome feeling unlovable! People who feel this way can benefit from therapy services. Find a therapist whose training and expertise fit with your background and other symptoms. Specifically, cognitive-behavioral therapy can help you identify maladaptive or incorrect thoughts and learn to replace these thoughts.

Learning to identify inaccurate thoughts takes a lot of practice. It can be a long, uphill challenge to develop this skill, but it can be done with proper support.

A Word From Verywell

If you find yourself feeling unlovable or thinking that you do not deserve to be treated well, noticing this feeling and identifying it as maladaptive is a good first step in countering these thoughts. Everyone has inaccurate thoughts sometimes, and we can work to identify and re-frame these thoughts.

No human is inherently unlovable, and you deserve to be treated well by your loved ones. Therapy and support are available to help you if you feel this way.

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2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Bartholomew K, Horowitz, LM. Attachment styles among young adults: a test of a four-category modelJournal of personality and social psychology. 1991;61(2):226.