“How Do I Stop Feeling Unlovable?”

31 Jan 2017

The Question Least Asked

“How do I stop feeling unlovable?” is not actually a question that any emotionally abused woman has ever asked me.

Please understand, nobody has asked me that question for a reason.  That reason was NOT that they had never experienced themselves as unlovable.  The question “How do I stop feeling unlovable” had never been asked – because they simply did not believe that they could stop feeling unlovable.

When you are around abusive people, feeling unlovable is a given.

In my own case, it started quite young.  My mother had a short temper. She was forever losing it.  Whenever she did, she would fix a hostile glare on whichever one of us children happened to be in the firing line, and hiss,

A form of words that implies unlovableness

“Your friends must love you.”

Mother certainly knew how to deliver a form of words that implied unlovableness.

The amount of contempt she could inject into one word “friends” was impressive.  So, too, was the subtext  – “nobody else ever will.”

Now, as an adult, with all of the distance that I have spent years creating, it is not hard to see how Mother operated when annoyed.  She had found a form of words that worked well to knock the impertinence out of her children.  She used it. A lot.

Mother never intended to create the perfect mark for an emotional  abuser, and/or narcissist. Rather, her intention was improve the child as much as she possibly could by NOT sparing the rod.  Unfortunately, she was less adept at controlling the World than she was at browbeating her offspring.

By the time I hit – chronological – adulthood, I recognised that I hungered for love. Daring to admit to myself that I felt unlovable, only came much, much later. Before that could happen, I first had to throw myself into the arms of the man who held out the promise of the love I lacked. Of course, that man turned out to be Mr Nasty.

An abuser can smell your unmet need for love

It’s as if an abuser, or narcissist, can practically smell the unmet need for love on you.

So, they spot you, promise you the earth, and then lock you into an intense relationship with them.   They vow that they will be your everything. Of course, you believe them.

Once one of these Hard-Hearted Horrors has wrapped your heart around his little finger, the relationship starts to go horribly wrong. Naturally, the blame lies solely with you.  As Poor Mr Nasty tells it, he is completely overwhelmed by your sheer awfulness.

Only someone as fatally flawed as you could possibly blame a man for being so outraged, disappointed, and judgmental as you have made him. 


You are an adult woman.  Mr Nasty acknowledges this  by a subtle modification of my mother’s words.  He replaces, “Your friends must love you.” with, “You will never find anyone as wonderful as me. Nobody else will ever want you.”

He uses the same formula as Mother – albeit changing the words slightly.

The old, unlovable belief

That enduring, toxic formula still works as well as it ever did. It confirms your old belief that if someone can say something that awful to you, it

  1. Must be true
  2. Must mean you are unlovable.

Well, it sure as hell must mean something.  The question remains, what precisely does an abusive form of words actually mean?

When women ask themselves, “How do I stop feeling unlovable?”  they are, most  definitely, barking up the wrong tree. (Not that there is a great deal to be gained by barking up any tree. However, dogs are not endowed with the gift of abstract thought, whereas humans are.)

In reality, the question, “How do I stop feeling unlovable?” is a pointless one.
Nobody has ever stopped a feeling by fighting with themselves. Unfortunately, fighting with a feeling that you don’t like serves only to give that feeling a good work-out.

Ask yourself, “Why do I have that feeling?”

Instead, of fighting yourself, you need to ask yourself, “”Why do I have that feeling?”

Nobody has ever felt unlovable without first having been made to feel unlovable. Usually, on a regular basis.

So, let’s look a little further into this. If someone trashes your feelings by telling you that you are unlovable, what does it say about them?

Back in my bad old days, I told myself that other people’s  anger at me spoke volumes about my flaws.  Their anger certainly spoke volumes about something – just not what I thought.

Emotionally abused women suffer horribly because of their “It-must-be-all-about-me” mind-set.

Despite the “me” word, that mind-set does not denote narcissism. Rather, it denotes packhorse-ism – that is, the tendency to carry the load of anything and everything (as well as anyone and everyone).

Bearing that in mind, let me ask you the question again, a tad more specifically.  What does it say about someone that they deliberately, and repeatedly, hit you where it hurts most – in your fragile sense of self? 

Now, I’m hoping that you are ahead of me, here. But I can’t hear the cogs in your mind whirring across the miles, nor the scales falling from your eyes. So, I’ll just come right out and say it anyway.

Unloving behavior

Anyone who feels entitled to hit you, and keep hitting you where it hurts most, in your fragile sense of self, is UNLOVING!

It does not matter how often someone may bleat on about love. If their words and their deeds are unloving, they are unloving.

A fundamental law of life that my parents certainly forget to tell me is that unloving people are guaranteed to make you feel unlovable.

That brings me to the answer to the question, “How do I stop feeling unlovable?”.  It’s a two-part answer.

  • Stop spending time with unloving people. They will only ever make you feel worse.
  • Shift your focus to discovering how you can give yourself the love you seek. That way you will never feel like a starving woman hanging out for a crumb-parcel from some stingy creep.

When you ask, “How do I stop feeling unlovable?”

One more thing, since you are human, you probably will keep asking yourself, “How do I stop feeling unlovable?” for a while yet. So, here’s what you do.  The first chance you get, you go to a beach or somewhere where you can find pebbles.  Choose one that you find attractive. Bring it back home with you.  Now, try to get blood from it.

That won’t happen, right?

Is it personal?  Precisely.

Keep your pebble somewhere you can see it all the time.  That pebble is now your visual reminder that you just can’t get love from an unloving person. That pebble holds the answer to the question, “How can I stop feeling unlovable.”


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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