Why You Don't Feel Loved (Even When You Are)

Being loved and feeling loved can be worlds apart.

woman looking sad because she doesn't feel loved while she walks through the grocery store Drazen Zigic / Shutterstock

What difference does it make if I’m being loved, yet can’t feel it? Being loved without feeling loved can be pretty painful and lonely.

Why don't I feel loved by anyone?

The experience of growing up with unloving parent can leave you feeling unworthy or guilty, especially if you do believe your parents loved you and did their absolute best. Yet, here you are, still not feeling loved. How can you ever understand how to love yourself?


I honestly don’t doubt that my parents loved me when I grew up. They did it in their own unique way, the way it was expected and done in those days, but I never really felt loved.

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I was a restless child and easily got angry and frustrated, even though I didn’t have a clue why. Nobody else seemed to understand or even care why I was that way.

We were always told to be quiet and do as we were told, so early on, I learned to contain myself in a way that caused a lot of restlessness. I had a lot of energy, and consequently had a lot to contain, and was often told that I was bad. I think this describes a pretty common childhood for many of us who grew up at that time.

Yes, I was loved, but I didn’t feel it. Emotionally and spiritually, I was starved and malnourished.

This does not mean that I’m blaming my parents for any of this. I’m using myself as an example of what happens when that sweet little feeling of "feeling loved" was never experienced or fully activated.


But the good news is that you can change that. It’s just going to take a little loving effort on your part to deeply listen to this knot or need inside, and find a way to give it what it needs to find peace, love, and fulfillment. This is not something you may be able to do on your own.

A number of years ago, when I started this exploration, it really dawned on me that this restlessness that I’ve always felt in my body needed something. It was trying to find peace and had blindly used any means to find it.

As I became more mindful and conscious and was able to turn inside, I felt a gaping hole — a hole surrounded by a feeling that I was bad and that something was wrong with me.

Learning how to love yourself can fill this hole — at least part of it.


With more and more clarity and ability to be present with the felt sense of the hole, it was a matter of peeling through layers and layers of self-denial, self-judgment, self-doubt, and self-neglect before I could start feeling the cause behind all these layers: I didn’t feel loved.

I found self-love to be the best remedy to soothe the pain surrounding this missing experience. Over time, I have learned to be really loving to myself. I never criticize or judge myself, and most importantly, I always honor and respect my own truth, wisdom, and values.

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Self-love keeps taking me deeper and deeper into the areas in my life that have not felt it yet. It’s been a work in progress and still is. But somehow it didn’t reach deep enough to penetrate the tightness in my belly and the pain in my heart. Somehow, I felt something was still missing in me to fully receive and fully love.


The meditation I am offering will show you what that is. It will help you to receive something from the real outside or a projected or imagined outside.

When you feel loved, you get a very tangible feeling inside that makes you relax and stop the neverending drive to get somewhere, someone or something. When you feel loved, you are home and you come to rest.

However, until you can really feel it, you can’t help but look for it outside of yourself. That’s why I want to stress the importance of feeling it, and give you the carte blanche to use any method to make that happen for you.

Are you able to love yourself so deeply that your body and being fully receive your love and are able to deeply relax?


Personally, I could only do it to a certain extend and then somehow, something was still missing. Then I noticed that if I imagined having someone loving and holding me, I could drop into a deeper place of letting go and rest inside.

This could be a real person, an imagined one, or a spiritual icon — anyone, whom I felt safe with and could help me relax.

Can you recognize this restlessness inside that keeps you looking for something outside of yourself? Or are you hoping to find peace inside through your actions and behaviors? Have you ever wondered what you really need?

When you look deep enough, do you feel loved just by being you? Do you feel loved inside even when you are not doing something for others or when you are not trying to be different than you are?


Can you extend some compassion for yourself for not feeling loved?

Let’s start by offering some compassion to these parts that never felt loved, even though they were loved, and have been on the lookout for it ever since.

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Personally, I have a lot of compassion for those parts in me that lacked a diet including emotional security and feeling loved. It’s like a diet lacking vitamin C, which would give you scurvy, and it’s really no different from lacking love.

You’ll try to remedy the symptoms by including vitamin love, but without understanding the basic need for this important nourishment, you may be looking for the wrong vitamin bottle. You may be trying to get it from the wrong source.


If you are so blessed with a loving partner, friend, therapist, or teacher who is able to create a space for you to receive love so you can feel it, you are in good hands. If not, you can still create the experience through this exercise, which is imagining you are getting it from the outside.

The point of either is to start building a new neural pathway inside of you, which you’ll have access to at any time, so you don’t need it from the outside anymore. From then on, you can certainly enjoy receiving it from the outside.

What is the first step to help open up the door to receive and feel that missing experience?

Think of someone whom you’ve seen express that to others — either in real life, in a spiritual context, in a movie, in your own imaginary creation or in any way that has deeply touched you.


Take your time to find exactly who is able to help you fill this hole inside so you may start feeling whole again — from the inside out:

  • Who would you have liked them to be?
  • Who would have been able to love you in such a way that you could have started life in a whole new way — feeling loved?
  • What was missing for you? What are you still looking for?
  • What did you not experience that you now know you needed?
  • What would you have liked to hear, feel, or experience that didn’t happen?
  • How would they look at you? Talk to you? Talk with you? Listen to you? Hold you? Respect you?
  • What would they do to express real interest in your well being?
  • How would you deeply know that they unconditionally loved you?
  • What would that feel like?

Play around with it and get in touch with these parts inside that need something very specific before they can really relax and receive this love. You need to listen to your heart’s longing. It will let you know when you do.

It’s like a unique key to your specific healing journey that only you know what is. Be very honest with yourself to find what you needed and never received.


When you love yourself enough to look for and find this key, it will open you up to receive the love you never felt.

When I did this exercise several years ago, I knew I couldn’t even imagine my real parents being able to do that — and I still can’t. They didn’t have what I needed because they were lacking it themselves.

Yes, there was some guilt when I realized I had to make up someone else for this healing ritual, but I did it anyway. It was really powerful and helped me open up to receive in a way I was never able to before.

To this day, when I let myself receive from my imagination, I still feel a softening in my belly.

It made me realize how I would have been a totally different being without all the insecurities, doubts, and restlessness. It’s been a beautiful process of unfolding out of the limitations and feeling of lack into an authentic peace. And the unfolding keeps unfolding.


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Pernilla Lillarose is a self-love mystic and mentor, and certified Hakomi practitioner.