Why Do So Many People Respond Negatively to Being Loved?

Love — kindness, affection, sensitive attunement, respect, companionship — is not only difficult to find, but is even more challenging for many people to accept and tolerate.  In my work with individuals and couples, I have observed countless examples of people reacting angrily when loving responses were directed toward them.

  • One man felt a flash of anger at his wife when she said she was worried about him riding his bike in an unsafe neighborhood. Even though he knew she was not being controlling or judgmental, and despite being aware that her apprehension was based on the fact that she really loved and valued him, he felt rage.
  • A woman became outright nasty when her boyfriend told her that he loved her so much he wished that they could have children together. She had never expressed hostility toward him before and the man involved was not pressuring her or even suggesting a course of action. He said it was just a sweet feeling.
  • In a therapy session, a usually calm and quiet man revealed that he felt fury when people praised him.

Unlike these individuals, many people are unaware that being loved or especially valued makes them feel angry and withholding. Indeed, this paradoxical reaction is largely an unconscious process. Even a simple compliment, although initially accepted at face value and enjoyed, can later arouse feelings of disbelief or anger toward the person giving the compliment, or can trigger negative attitudes and critical feelings towards oneself.

But why do love, positive acknowledgment and compliments arouse such animosity?  There are a number of primary causes of this phenomenon discussed in this blog.

1. Being loved arouses anxiety because it threatens long-standing psychological defenses formed early in life in relation to emotional pain and rejection, therefore leaving a person feeling more vulnerable.

Although the experience of being chosen and especially valued is exciting and can bring happiness and fulfillment, at the same time, it can be frightening and the fear often translates into anger and hostility. Basically, love is scary when it contrasts with childhood trauma. In that situation, the beloved feels compelled to act in ways that hurt the lover: behaving in a punitive manner, distancing themselves and pushing love away.  In essence, people maintain the defensive posture that they formed early in life. Because the negative reaction to positive events occurs without conscious awareness, individuals respond without understanding what caused them to react. They rationalize the situation by finding fault with or blaming others, particularly those closest to them.

2. Being loved arouses sadness and painful feelings from the past.

Being treated with love and tenderness arouses a kind of poignant sadness that many people struggle to block out. Ironically, close moments with a partner can activate memories of painful childhood experiences, fears of abandonment and feelings of loneliness from the past. People are afraid of being hurt in the same ways they were hurt as children.

3. Being loved provokes a painful identity crisis

When people have been hurt, they feel that if they accepted love into their life, the whole world as they have experienced it would be shattered and they would not know who they were. Being valued or seen in a positive light is confusing because it conflicts with the negative self-concept that many people form within their family.

In the developmental process, children idealize their parents at their own expense as part of a psychological survival mechanism. This idealization process is inextricably tied to maintaining an image of oneself as bad or deficient. However painful it may be, people are somehow willing to accept failure or rejection because these are harmonious with the incorporated negative view of themselves, whereas the intrusion of being loved or having positive responses directed toward them is disruptive of their psychological equilibrium.

4.  Accepting being loved in reality disconnects people from a fantasy bond with their parents.

Early in life, children develop fantasies of being fused with a parent or primary caregiver to compensate for what is emotionally missing in their environment. The imagined connection offers a sense of safety, partially gratifies the child’s needs and relieves painful feelings of emotional deprivation and rejection. This fantasy persists into adult life, although it may be largely unconscious. As a result, the hurt individual maintains a sense of pseudo-independence, an attitude that they can take care of themselves without a need for others. As a result of merging with their parents in their imagination, people continue to both nurture and punish themselves in the same way they were treated by their parents. In addition, as love relationships become more meaningful, deep and threatening, people tend to revert to utilizing the same defense mechanisms that their parents used to avoid pain. Reacting in a manner similar to their parents offers a sense of safety, regardless of any negative consequences. Once the fantasy bond takes hold, people are extremely reluctant to take a chance again on real love and gratification from a romantic partner.

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5. Positive acknowledgment arouses guilt in relation to surpassing the parent of the same sex.

Achieving success in one’s love life or career can make a person aware of their parents’ weaknesses, limitations and failures to find gratification in their lives, in particular the parent of the same sex. Being chosen or preferred by a loved one in a relationship, or being acknowledged for a success for which others are striving in the workplace, tends to precipitate guilt reactions and self-recriminations. When the guilt of surpassing one’s parent or associate is operant, people fear retaliation and tend to limit or go against their own development.

Furthermore, people often feel angry at being acknowledged and because the feeling appears to be irrational, it is suppressed. They distort the very people who made them feel loved, or who supported or acknowledged their success or achievement, and act out passive aggression towards them. Many mistakenly perceive positive acclaim as an expectation or a demand to continue the behavior that earned them the appreciation and praise.  All of these painful emotions are relieved to some extent as people withhold their positive or lovable qualities, adjust their performance downward and unconsciously attempt to diminish or sabotage their success. It is extremely difficult to get out of that kind of withholding pattern.

6. Accepting being loved stirs up painful existential issues.

In a previous work, Fear of Intimacy, I wrote, “Being close to another in a loving relationship makes one aware that life is precious, but must eventually be surrendered. If we embrace life and love, we must also face death’s inevitability.” In particular, the experience of being loved makes one place more value on one’s life, and the anticipation of its ending becomes tortuous. For this reason, people attempt to modify those loving exchanges rather than go through the painful feelings. Often close moments in a relationship are followed by attempts on the part of one or both partners to take the edge off the experience or to withdraw to a “safer” distance.  Many people have spoken of heightened feelings of death anxiety after feeling especially close emotionally and sexually, and of later reacting with anger and withholding behaviors that lead to deterioration in the relationship.

For the most part, people create the emotional world in which they live. In actuality, they attempt to recreate the world they lived in as children to maintain psychological equilibrium. Positive events and circumstances, particularly the experience of being loved, seriously interrupt this process. In order to maintain a false sense of safety and security, people utilize the defense mechanisms of selection, distortion and provocation in their relationships. They tend to select partners who are like people in their early lives because they are more comfortable with people who fit their defenses. Secondly, they distort their partners and see them as more like the people in their past than they really are. Thirdly, they try to provoke responses in their partners that duplicate interactions from their past.  The end result is antithetical to maintaining happy and satisfying relationships.

Lastly, most people are not aware of their negative reactions to being loved or the dynamics described above, nor do they recognize their own withholding behavior and its effect on themselves and their loved ones. The hope is that becoming aware of these core defenses and challenging them can help people to be liberated from these detrimental effects.

Author’s Note

I have not done full justice to the subject matter in this blog.  It is highly condensed and therefore lacks supportive data and more elaborate case histories. These matters will be addressed in a book on the subject in the near future.

About the Author

Robert Firestone, Ph.D Robert W. Firestone, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, author, theorist and artist. He is the Consulting Theorist for The Glendon Association. He is author of numerous books including Voice Therapy, Challenging the Fantasy Bond, Compassionate Child-Rearing, Fear of Intimacy, Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice, Beyond Death Anxiety The Ethics of Interpersonal RelationshipsSelf Under Siege, and recently his collection of stories Overcoming the Destructive Inner Voice.  His studies on negative thought processes and their associated affect have led to the development of Voice Therapy, an advanced therapeutic methodology to uncover and contend with aspects of self-destructive and self-limiting behaviors. Firestone has applied his concepts to empirical research and to developing the Firestone Assessment of Self-destructive Thoughts (FAST), a scale that assesses suicide potential. This work led to the publication of Suicide and the Inner Voice: Risk Assessment, Treatment and Case Management. He has published more than 30 professional articles and chapters for edited volumes, and produced 35 video documentaries. His art can be viewed on www.theartofrwfirestone.com. You can learn more about Dr. Firestone by visiting www.drrobertwfirestone.com.

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Renee Dill

I found this article so helpful- thank you so much! I do have a question though- what are the best ways to move forward and be supportive of a person who has deep issues with accepting love and affection?


You’re missing an important one: fear that “love” is actually an attempt to control. Parents and adult lovers routinely use the “look at what I’ve done for you – now you must do as I say”/”look at how much I love you – if you don’t do what I want (stay with me at any cost to you, ultimately) just think how much it will hurt me!” scripts.

Of course, that may not be the lover’s intention. But, the resentment arises from the assumption that it is, grounded in previous experience with the lover or in childhood. And, in fairness, too often that is exactly what is going on.


of course that’s what’s going on, because we are unconsciously choosing people who will manipulate and control us with “love”-it’s not at all comfortable, but certainly familiar. reading your comment, i had a flashback to myself age 7 or 8, feeling rage and resentment at adults i was expected to be affectionate/polite towards, (and the adults who expected a reciprocal “i love you” when i didn’t, and i really don’t think they did either. ugh) having to smile through clenched teeth and fight an almost primal instinct to recoil from the requisite hug-and-kiss greetings…even recently, i found i was being told “i love you” at odd/inappropriate times, which sent my ‘something is rotten in denmark’ meter into the red. (tried to pass off as spontaneous or romantic? right) on to discover that they were times the person had just done or was about to do something they knew would not make me happy. my response to “i love you” became, “what have you done this time?” love feels like, “here, have an imaginary pillow that we’ll hope cushions the blow of the really crappy thing i’ve done to you, but i love you, so it’s ok, right?”


This is impossibly true Thomas! I am currently battling intense feelings of pure raw anger, and I have traced most of it down to exactly what you mentioned here. Growing up as a step child, I was told, still to the day that while my well being matters, my feelings / emotions / thoughts didn’t. I was emotionally neglected as a child in an affection-less angry fearsome house. Whatever I felt or thought about my life was and still is irrelevant, the only thing I should ‘feel’ and ‘think’ about is gratitude for what I have and otherwise would not have had if my step dad had not taken my older sister and I in. Both my parents dish this out to us, to the day. So I could somewhat understand my fear of intimacy, however my hostile response to kindness and real well being blows my mind! It is as if if anyone close to me tries to help me or express genuine and spontaneous thoughtfulness to me they are saying I cant do it on my own, they are suggesting that I am inferior in some way. And sadly for me since my feelings were held down so long my spouts are more implosive than explosive, means I play them over in my head rather than express them to the people involved, or they come out in the most inopportune, irrelevant times and ways. As if that isn’t enough, I fail to get angry and express myself adequately in the exact situations that I should feel normal anger and offended. In those situations, I shrink into my shell and think about what I have done to create the situation, what I have done wrong or how I am unable to defend myself in that moment and others. It is the most painful existence, and I can only thing that it is because my base needs were hung over me and used to guilt me, in a time that I had not power over my situation. Now I battle perpetual feelings of inferiority and powerlessness alike; and I’m severely passive aggressive. Relationships are non existent, or are a fiery battle of power, even though I initially portray kindness, fun, laid back-ness, friendliness and understanding to people. I’m a ticking time bomb in relationships! That is why your writing here has touched me, after years or research and some therapy I have pegged it as one of the fundamental root causes that I am having the worst time trying to move past. I am currently trying to decide if I should seek treatment again, and if so which one!

A friend

You aren’t alone. My upbringing was the same. It’s hard to accept the fact that you have been emotionally neglected your entire life… By parents, friends, lovers but the worst is realizing that you are neglecting your own needs. YOU. Other people trained you to act that way but YOU are perpetuating it. It makes me so fucking angry thinking about how all of this damage was done to me and how I’ve become my own worst enemy because of it. Be kind to yourself. You didn’t deserve what they did to you. You are your friend, lover, and family first and foremost. You deserve to live yourself and put your needs first. Let no one tell you otherwise.


If i could be your best friend….
We have the same upbringing, my parents are exactly like that but my life turn worst when I’m entering an arranged marriage to the man I never loved before. I have no idea about my fear of love since I thought I can handle this marriage but I’m in the middle of severe depression because this relationship traumatized me more than ever. I remember the first horror came when my husband whispering to me that this will be his first and last marriage and I’m scared at that prospect. I hate it even more when he called me with sweet names. I want to address the problem with my husband so I asked him to get things slowly but he can’t accept that. I asked him I need to learn first but he won’t accept since we already married so it’s already late for me not to love him. He always angry and complaining if I’m never initiated the loving act or if I’m not showing enough gratitude if he showered me with love and gifts. What I feel is only raged and fury. He even including my parents in our marriage if I’m not as much as happy, accepting and proactive as he is to make them scold me because I’m not grateful enough having such a ‘kind’, ‘patient’, and handsome husband. I feel more and more angry because of feeling trapped into this relationship I’m never volunteered into. Whenever he buy me things I feel insulted like he is trying to buy me with money. It is hard. Now I’m traumatized so badly I can’t even meet the person anymore but my parent’s won’t let me divorce him since it’ll tarnish their image and turned me into ungrateful daughter that always making them hurts.

Dee Dee


I’m very sorry for your plight. You need to get divorced and who cares what your parents think since this isn’t their life. Its yours. They lived theirs. Its time for you to live yours.
This “husband” sounds more like an a hole. Of course you’re angry and have rage. You weren’t given a choice on marrying him. You were basically ordered due to some family tradition, and it’s not fair to you. You’re a human being. Not some piece of property that can be handed over to someone else.


OMG. Why are we so afraid to surrender control?? This whole generation is made up of total control freaks. We can’t have a working, mano-e-mano relationship without surrendering some control.


I have a scenario I would like some guidance on. My wife and I have been together for 14 yrs. it has been better than average. In July she kicked me out of the house because of a trivial act on my part. I’ve been gone now for 7months. She says she doesn’t want to be intimate with me, not even to kiss. We had a better than average sexlife and I know she agrees(it’s a long story) she instigated sex before the breakup quite often. I’ve accused her of cheating but have not found any evidence of it. What is going on?


These concepts are simply fascinating and very thought provoking. I would love to buy a book with a more in depth analysis of these theories. Most search results on CAUSES of negative people are simply trite lists titled “X ways to avoid negative people”.


Glad to hear you found these concepts so interesting! We have a list of books here that offer a more in-depth analysis to some of these theories, and, as a matter of fact, Drs. Robert and Lisa Firestone are currently working on a new book on this very topic.

Steve K

Being loved is far different than being manipulated and controlled. Sometimes the person that claims they love the other is really not showing them love. Period. Thus good intentions or in some cases a morbid and dishonest “concern for appearances” is NOT LOVE and this omission – (that this happens in real life) – is unforgivable for an article like this.

This article is in fact typical of the grossly misleading and manipulative false narrative that many people apply to actual human interactions in order to paint themselves as without fault in their dealings with the person who allegedly “reacts negatively to being loved”. Its shameful, actually.

What’s worse is it can become part of an ongoing con-game and an oversimplification by people who are not being honest with THEMSELVES or the person they “LOVE” and need to camouflage the fact that they are duplicitous, controlling, needy and duplicitous and thus need to offload responsibility for their own considerable failings on someone else.

Its for this reason that these ostensibly “helpful” self-help articles often reinforce the most unjust and dishonest tyrannical behavior in people who use this kind of self-help thinking as a kind of fig-leaf for absolutely abhorrent behavior, betrayal and character assassination.


Steve K. – remover of veils


Not everyone’s deficiencies can be laid on childhood. This repeat trek to some perceived abuse during childhood… maybe for some cases, but the way the author goes on and on with it?

Dee Dee

Steve K

The unfortunate truth is the author cannot control how readers user his material. The hope is that the reader will analyze their own behavior and hopefully be better equipped to not only understand, but seek professional help. The unfortunate truth, with some exceptions, is most people who engage in the very egregious acts you mention don’t feel there’s anything wrong with them, or their behavior. So they continue to engage in it until their partner finally gives up in exhaustion and leaves.

For example, look at what girls are taught from a young age. If a boy hits you, he likes you. Really? And what about when that boy breaks her nose, or her eye socket? How much does he love her now?

Make no mistake, boys don’t have it much easier. Boys don’t cry. Small wonder boys grow up into men who can’t express themselves.

I’m a woman and I grew up in a very abusive household. Try defending yourself at all times from 3 individuals: both of my brothers, and my mother. Furthermore, during the small amount of time when my father was in the picture I’d have to watch my back with all 4.

I wasn’t allowed to cry or I’d get hit even more. I’m an adult now, both my parents are deceased, and no I refuse to speak to my brothers. Since my first language is Spanish, there is a language barrier with my memories. Sometimes I need to think in Spanish in order to truly remember things. Recently I was able to recall and piece together things my father did and said that had haunted me all this time (long story and I’m going to get into it here). Ever since I’ve piece all this madness together, I’ve had nothing but peace of mind, and happiness.


Well said, Steve. These leftist articles seem to be designed to disrupt and even destroy our relationships from the inside out. They’re brainwashing people to hate their partners and their feelings toward their partners by giving them cold, detached theoretical philosophy. Nothing more. Nothing grounded. Nothing real. It’s BS to put it harshly. Humans are too messy for these writers to understand apparently.


I found the article really useful. I was not loved appropriately as a child and have had a tendency to push away those who are kind to me, while inviting those who are unavailable/manipulative/abusive. The article is nearly the only one out there on this topic. What I would like to see is a sequel on how to surmount some of these issues and be loving to those who deserve it rather than living in isolation for fear of kicking up old wounds and hurting someone else. I have had excellent therapists over a number the years and yet this item remains outstanding.

Ted Robinson

I agree with you that the article is a good one. I also agree that not much is out there regarding this subject matter. It answered many questions for me in getting involved with abused individuals…….

Wendy Batista

I was rejected by my mom and today I can’t stand people telling me they love me or miss me, it repulsed me to the core, I want to get healed so bad, all my life I have picked husband’s that are manipulate and control freaks and emotionally unavailable , now I’m understanding why


So it seems to me this article can be used to shed light on the dynamic between a devoted, kind, lover type and an abusive, antiintimacy, transactional type. Some may reject the true love of a true lover for the many suggested reasons in this article rooting to a ‘family of origin’ issue. Others may recoil at money, food, or some other offering a person gives claiming its because they love you only minutes, hours, days or even years after a highly abusive act, and when rejected, the abuser accuses the abused of reacting hostily to their ‘love’ so the abused’s response is not rooted in a childhood trauma, but in a very wise discernment of the individual and an attempt to manipulate or gaslight others into seeing them a virtuous when they are exhibitedly otherwise toward the responder.

Sherry Scott

You obviously haven’t been with a person who can’t except love. So when that happens then talk to me. Because I have things to say.


I just find this fascinating. So much about modern psychological, pseudo-science is unacceptable because it is inexplicable and unrepeatable. What you have said here makes common sense, even though it may be less than satisfying to some of those who would wish it to be otherwise.

I find you to be a teller of truth, and I value that.


I feel I’ve I have finally found key pieces to what I’ve been searching. I am beyond amazed with how much is personally pinpointed .I noticed you said more would come after more research was done for your book. Would you be interested in an interview where I could provide me proud to this? Thank you again

Daniel Patrick May

Please . i know this post is old . but you say you have answers that i need about why i love this man that was a fantasy and i dreamed of it a sa littl;e girl as most girls do . i wanted my prince charming and hes here .my problem is he loves me too much . and it scares me and i reject him and respond in anger and close myself off . please help please please please .


Whenever I notice that someone is attracted to me and takes me seriousely as a potential partner, I got scared and want to run away. It feels like, when I notice that „lovely” look in their eyes, I just close myself off and want to end the relation – even when I was attracted to them. I don’t know what to do about it, I feel guilty and angry with myself because I want to find someone, but when it happens I’m just running away from them and try to push them away.


I’m the same. Just be honest about your feelings with them whether you fancy them too or don’t. Saves a lot of confusion or anxiety. Don’t run away and prolong the situation. You can both proceed how you want to.



I’m so very much looking forward to the publication of your book then! This subject fascinates me. Write fast – publish quick! – and keep us informed re release dates!

My best wishes from Switzerland


Reading this brings a mix of feelings for me. On the one hand, it is so validating and makes perfect sense to me when I think of the struggles i have/had in my love relationships. It also brings up fear and despair, because most men are not working w their issues at this level, nor do they want to. This is not a judgement, (i cant blame them really) but more of an observation. It is something i encounter as a divorced single woman looking to have a deep relationship. Lately i have been seriously questioning if any of this knowledge and learning is even helpful to me and my life. It seems only a psychologist would want to relate at this level! That narrows my options quite significantly. I am considering giving up and choosing to be w a partner who is good and kind, likes sex, and wants to travel. I would appreciate any feedback on this. Thanks.


I agree with you lately I’ve been trying to meet someone like you all my life I lost my spouse three years ago she was so good to me I didn’t realize how good she was to me until she was gone I still tried to treat her with fairness and kindness no I’ve met someone that is divorced but does not wanna except long for some reason she was hurt in her life and always brings that up that she never wants to be hurt again I keep telling her that I will never hurt her but she doesn’t want to believe that which I think is going to result in the end of us I can’t keep going on with the person that doesn’t wanna try and change she likes to drink gamble and smoke I know it’s gonna kill her someday but that’s none of my business I don’t understand why people can’t appreciate life and what God has given him I feel sorry for her because I treated her with more love than anybody in my life but she still keeps pushing me away I don’t know what to do anymore I think it’s time for me to make some other decisions and maybe move on with my life she is in her early 50s and I am in my 60s age doesn’t really matter if you meet the right person it’s love that matters and how much we want to give-and-take I’ve been through a lot of hurt in my life but I do seem to be over, if you’d like to text me back I would love to hear from you if you don’t have a great life and thanks for your comments it made me realize somethings in life that you never change people and I wouldn’t want to change him I just want someone to be normalAnd learn to except love


Hi this was very informational and I appreciated it but what can I do to prevent this from happening I just started seeing someone and the amount of negative feelings coming up of fear sadness and loneliness ironically are flooding in you think it would be the complete opposite. Please help


Huh, this is interesting. I had a boyfriend many years ago now who became absolutely furious when I suggested to him we could move in together (we were both leaving the accommodation we had at around the same time). A simple: “I don’t feel ready for that” would have been fine with me and I was baffled by how enraged he seemed as I really didn’t feel I’d said anything hurtful. I just sort of shrugged it off at the time as some kind of “quirk” he had.

I’m not sure I actually get angry at people for wanting to be around me. I know plenty of people who do. Although I would say I agree with the commenters above that sometimes someone wanting to be around you is more for their sake than yours. I guess the reason I don’t get angry with this is because I don’t really see it as their fault that they feel so bad about themselves or need so much. I just feel terrible for them. They must be in such pain.

My personal problem seems to be similar but a bit different in that I find it difficult to be close to people because I believe they cannot really “see” me. I tend to believe that people will see in me whatever serves them, so a relationship is never really a relationship to me. It’s all about them anyway.


This article is eye opening; exactly what I’ve been hoping to find. I’m going to save this for future reference. It’s a tough road to walk when countless attempts become just years of practice. Still trying to figure out my minds next move.

Sean ONeal


Enjoyed the article and its a good start towards a more in depth look in a book. Couple of thoughts.

I think there is a case to be made that sometimes the anger may be the result of feeling undervalued. Taking your first example of the man who felt anger at his wife worrying about him when he went out. I’ve felt that and I can tell you exactly why. I hold two black belts, I’m a spelunker, rock climber, and a fair shot with a rifle. I’ve also never weighed more than 124 lbs in my life (and I’m a guy so…). Typically people take one look at me and assume that I need to be protected, that’s tolerable from strangers who don’t know me. But its even worse among those who know and care about me. For my perspective it often engenders feelings of resentment and irritation that eventually boil over into anger over time. At its base is that feeling that they never really “see” me for who I actually am, what I’m actually capable of or the things I’ve achieved (or at least survived, don’t ask LOL) in my life. Compound that with the desire on my part that those individuals especially be the ones to actually “get me” and feeling disappointed that they still don’t and you can see how that would lead to some irritation. While my case might be atypical in some regards, I think there are likely many cases where someone doesn’t perceive the expression as love but rather its taken more as being undervalued, mistrusted, or their capabilities under-appreciated. Or simply put, not being seen and valued for who they really are.

Another point, again drawing on personal experience. I once dated a young woman whom I’d been very fond of almost from the instant we met. Just one of those cases where you meet someone and immediately connect with them. For several months she’d grown increasingly uncomfortable with it or with my expressions of affection. It wasn’t that she didn’t feel the same, she did. It wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy the affection, she loved it. So after a long and eventually very open discussion she finally realized her discomfort came from not knowing why I loved her. It wasn’t that she didn’t think she was deserving of being loved, she just had never really known why I specifically loved her. After spending some time telling her various reasons why, things I liked about her, things about her that made me happy, she felt better. I think here again it had its roots in the need to feel one is being “seen” for who they are, that I really loved her for who she was. Once she realized I did, she was happy with it.

Best of luck with the research and book.

Ted Robinson

Have you ever considered that your feeling of being undervalued is a challenge you have? I ask this because you certainly seemingly have prepared yourself to do ‘combat’ if necessary. I, too, am a small man, although not as small as you and when I get concerns about size, usually regarding conflict, I respond with a moniker that I’ve devised. It’s “Well, I’m big for my size.”, to my mind that let’s people know that while I may look small I’m not to be blanked with, but I hear and appreciate their concern for me.
Maybe I’m wrong and if I am, please throw this comment into the ‘ash heap’ of comments….


Well if many of us had been born at a much Earlier time which many of us would’ve been all settled down by now with our own family which came very Easy for our family members that were very Blessed to meet one another back then since the times were so much different than today, and for many of us Good Single men it is very hard finding love these days.


This has really helped me understand my ex partner. I also feel extremely sad. I remember the first time he asked if I had fallen in love with him, as though he was checking how intimate we were getting. Whenever talks of love or intimacy came up, he would run right away and not return for as long as two weeks. He ended it with me 4 times, each time I hoped it would be the last. The last time he slept with me and it was beautiful, but then when we woke up the next day, I told him I was so happy to have him back and he told me he didn’t need anyone and that he was going to run again. He said himself he didn’t even know why. I’m really scared it has rubbed off on me and I too will be scared of intimacy, like him. It’s been really hard understanding why he ran away from my love and support. This helps explain. Please if you could, can you talk about the effect it has on the partner? Will I have his issues too now from also being emotionally and physically neglected?


i guess i just cant relate to any of this..i dont have a fantasy bond with my parents, because i have a real bond and have no need for fantasy. i think what this article and others here basically saying is likely true and only relatable to children being raised by children

Ted Robinson

Carrie, i just think it means you had a healthy emotional upbringing. I, too, feel the way that you do. I LOVE intimacy and can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t, however the article answered many questions that I have had about past relationships.
I kept falling in love with individuals that were abused, yet I wouldn’t be told until I was in love and immursed in the relationship. After a while, the relationship would eventually suffer due to intimacy issues,
I finally understand why. Sadly, after not too long after meeting someone, I find out if they have been abused in some way, most assuredly, sexually. I no longer want to involve myself as I know if they haven’t addressed the issue, it will rear its head as soon as there is some challenge in the relationship.
So, just consider yourself lucky that neither you or the person you are involved with has this problem as quite a bit of the time, at least one of the individuals in the relationship, does.


I fell in love and am still very much in love with the person you so outlined in your post. For the past 8 weeks, I have been obsessively trying to understand the sudden ending of our relationship, and now it feels as though the inner child voice you have shared so has answered my question. My former partner experienced severe neglect throughout childhood and eventually abandonment but, somehow, raised himself into the person I didn’t know enough to even hope for. Sensitive, gentle, affectionate, intelligent, calm, and funny. He was vigilant about every aspect of our relationship, and I was amazed by the mindfulness, dedication, and care he gave to the building of us. We had been together for 7 months when I decided to throw him a surprise party for his birthday. To the crux, the party was not appreciated. Instead it was interpreted as deception. Of the 9 guests who attended, he cut ties with all but two. He began to isolate himself further from others. And with me, although he remained affectionate, attentive, and engaging, he no longer trusted me, became suspicious of simple questions, became private, evasive, almost secretive, no longer said “I love you,” and seemed to not address our relationship with the vigilance he once had. I felt devastated that the gift I had orchestrated and intended to be a gesture of love turned out to be a traumatic event for him, causing him to distrust me and cut out relationships he had had for 22, 15, 10 and 8 years. I think out of embarrassment, he denied that the party was a problem for him still. But two weeks before he ended us (8 months after the party) the party issue was raised again by him. He proclaimed that he had been deceived by a room full of people and nobody understood how he was doing his best to keep the few relationships that he had chosen to retain. At the end of this lengthy discussion, he ignored the option of couple’s counseling but said he did want to navigate our problems together, to try to fix them. I accepted this as renewed commitment and believed we could resolve our issues. However, days later, after a lovely weekend, he ended everything abruptly and (I feel) quite impulsively. In hindsight, I see things that occurred throughout the relationship that indicate much of what you spoke of. It feels to me as though he never could quite accept or truly believe that he was loved. It seems to me that the vigilance he had given to the relationship was his attempt to achieve something I suspect he desperately wants but is afraid to achieve. It’s saddening. Thank you again for sharing because your words are a rare window into the highly guarded inner thoughts of survivors of childhood neglect. A window if opened could help those who love them.


Raised by an abusive father who had himself been whipped with barbed wire, beaten with log chains, etc, love came conditionally. He desired not to be like his own father, but failed to ever get help. Fast forward to my 21st year and my first serious girlfriend. She was drop dead gorgeous and was head over heels with me. We started off awesome but as our relationship grew over a rocky two years, i found myself constantly testing for her love. i pushed pulled toward her, controlled her with a well crafted childhood coping mechanism of manipulation – honestly i knew it was wrong but the manipulation was so ingrained as a survival mechanism from my abusive father, i didn’t know how not to manipulate. I often found myself swinging emotionally from rage to sobbing in our relationship and had no idea why. I THOUGHT EVERYONE DID THAT. It made me hate myself even more. A good looking guy, college football player, life of the party kind of guy, I never felt like i was in the right body, at least emotionally. I could walk into a room and turn heads but hated, loathed, despised the person inside. I was a closet self abuser and enjoyed the pain i could inflict on myself. I broke up with the girl on a whim even though it destroyed me. It messed with me so much I lost a bid to the NFL because i lost so much weight. I only dated casually until … I was 28. Now a teacher and coach, i avoided dating seriously, and chose prostitutes over a girlfriend – who knows why the hell i did it – most likely as a punishment. Most of the time i hated it so much i wouldn’t ‘make it’ and would just fake it and quit. My self abuse and become more severe and I was cutting – the exhilaration from cutting rivaled that of sex (which for me was almost nonexistent). Now the rest of the story. During these years I discovered that one of my peers lived in the same apt complex. Terrified of a serious relationship, although she liked me, we just became good friends. Hung out, played, etc. Unfortunately, or fortunately, she was a beautiful blonde and i was a mess. With slept together several nights and initially all was okay… but then a cloud of fear hit me and i ran. I avoided her, but since we taught in the same school would still see her. I was conflicted and miserable. Six months later the following year, we had rekindled our friendship and … woops, found myself in her bed, again. I would look at her beautiful blonde curls as she slept wishing I could love her. I ran again, avoiding her. then a knock on my door. I opened to my dear blonde blue eyed friend and she told me in tears that she was pregnant. I can’t say i wasn’t happy. i really wasn’t even nervous at least not right then. After a few months we agreed to get married. I found myself swinging again. At one point I told her she really didn’t want to married to me as i was messed up. I am 56 now. And i am still married to her, or maybe i should say, because of her we are still married. I had so many addictions when we married i could have been a side show. I was abusive like my father. I manipulated and loved conditionally like my father. Basically i was the man i hated. Started and stopped counseling a few times and finally about a dozen years ago she kicked me out of the house and i entered rehab. Diagnosed as CPTSD (chronic post traumatic stress syndrome) which is basically cult type abuse I was able to get into a program called CR or Celebrate Recovery. I spent 3 years in this program and still go periodically, especially when those feelings come back. Meds do help, but keeping those addictive behaviors at bay is a daily battle. Thanks to CR and a wife who loves me unconditionally i am the happiest i’ve ever been, more each day. My kids watched me change and respect me more than i ever thought they would. It’s a daily battle. But for me, realizing the key was in my thought life – and whether about my traumatic childhood or self hate , I have a choice about those thoughts. My mantra: ‘JUST BECAUSE I HAVE A THOUGHT, DOESN’T MEAN I HAVE TO THINK IT!” If you can understand that phrase, and get your butt to CR, perhaps you can change and have a meaningful life and be able to love and accept love the way i can now!


Hi Daniel,

I don’t know how long ago you wrote this message but similarly like you I feel we are two and the same, only difference is you say you are 56 whereas I am 31. I am actor, well want to be actor and like you a good looking fella, like you manipulation is a well crafted tool I use to getting what I want from my partner, crying to get them to feel sorry for me and when they show any sort of affection towards me I question their motives, try to understand why they are doing it and this ultimately has led me down the rabbit hole of seeking oral pleasures from other men, to cheating on my long term girlfriend with other women to isolating myself for days on end away from people in general until I want to feel something that is and then I put myself out on display. I don’t see myself as a cheat or as a gay man, but feel that for much of my waking life I feel numbed and when i want to feel something I take it where I can get it and if thats with either a man or woman then thats how it is. But I know every time experience pleasure from one of these experiences I am actually just self abusing. Underneath it all, I don’t feel I had an abusive father because I didn’t know my father, I did however have step father who was emotionally impaired because of the relationship he had with his father. Looking back at my childhood I knew my step father wasn’t my real father and always dreamt of people like my headmaster or my grandad actually being my real father, I used to also fantasise that I wasn’t of this planet and that my father was like Kal-el (Supermans father) and I was in fact an alien on this planet. As time passed I found it harder and harder to talk about the issue surrounding the identity of my actual father for fear of hurting my step fathers feelings. Little did I know that by not talking about who he was I was hurting myself and what my own identity.
My issues although similar appear to be getting worse and not better. I have since split from my long term girlfriend and appear to have gone out an gotten myself a complete replica girl who I have sex with on a regular basis but still seek to punish myself by indulging in homosexual acts such as receiving oral from other men. I feel the problem lies in how I see myself, I must see myself as not being worthy of actual real love and when it is displayed in front of me i get angry and want to fight with whom ever is offering it. I feel the fact that (a) my dad was never around (b) he never came looking for me (c) I never talked about him I have developed symptoms of abandonment and an identity crisis. I have thought of therapy but the cost is a financial burden at present. Did you find that by attending therapy that you began to see yourself as a better person and with it your life began to take a turn for the better?


Thank you for sharing this, Daniel. I appreciate the words “just because we have a thought, doesn’t mean we have to think it.”
That’s basic meditation, which as a child I used to disassociate myself from pain. I’ve definitely gone the thought route, but the pain body deep inside me is still there.
One of my issues is that when others come too close it’s not a thought, it’s a physical pain that feels like my heart is ripping apart and I’m being destroyed. Sometimes, I wonder if it’s not essential to find a way to be able to fully experience that body of pain and love myself through it. I’ve gone through therapy, 12 step programs, plant medicine ceremonies, etc. At 55, I’m so ready to leave this behind me.


Well today i do have to blame the single women today for that one since there are many of us good men that are still single these days when we really shouldn’t be at all since the women that now have their career are now very high maintenance, independent, selfish, spoiled, greedy, picky, and very money hungry as well since they will only want the very best of all and will never settle for less. They usually most of the time do prefer men that have a lot of money or are very rich instead.

Amanda parker

It’s been amazing reading all the posts, I found myself hanging on every word. So desperately hoping for the answer to my problems. It’s a weird sort of situation and I’m not sure what to do to make things better.
I’m a mother and a successful analyst in a senior position. My daughter got married to a charming young man who I got to know from the local youth service. That’s how they met due to my work with him. I got along with him extremely well as he was funny, charming, entertaining and a good listener. I found myself mothering him at times as he confessed how he didn’t have much of a relationship with his mum and I was instantly drawn to his vulnerability being a mum myself.
In any case they married and things are up and down as he pushes and pulls constantly. Their relationship has the classical hall marks of insecurity as he is very controlling and suspicious at times.
In addition he pushes my affections away as soon as I do the mum thing and treat him like a son or show affection. It’s upsetting me to say the least as I do dote over him but sadly I feel he hurts me constantly by pushing me away when he feels it’s all a bit too close. I have read countless posts and a friend of mine who is a counsellor has sent me lovely book on insecurity. But I find myself feeling hurt and broken as part of me just wishes he would just be warm, kind and loving back.
Truth be told I think I’m a little insecure as I wasn’t a boy child for my parents and I remember from an early age I would think they don’t need / want or live me. Maybe that’s why I want to care for him and love him….it’s all about our childhood I think and the way we were raised.

amber Villarreal

Hi maybe you could give me some feedback. I am one of those people that reject love affection compliments ect. I married a husband like my mom. He makes put down remarks to me​, doesn’t show love or affection and has outright told me he thinks I am disgusting. I have been with him for 23 years and I can’t find the courage to leave. I know I’m only staying with him because of the familiarity that I have experienced my whole life. But I have been on the path of true Discovery and healing and I realized the time has come to separate from him. I found a man that is everything I could ever want loving kind sensitive emotionally available and I am scared to death of him. I keep finding ways to push him away and doubts to keep me from getting too close to him. he insist he loves me and that it’s a true love and thet I am the only one he wants and I don’t know how to handle that. To me there has to be a motive of some kind. I am fat disgusting ugly what could he possibly see in me plus I’m older than him. Just last night he begged me not to be negative anymore to trust him and to trust in his love and I really want to but I am so afraid that I am just not enough. I don’t know how to get away from the negativity and give my one possible chance of Happiness a try. Please any suggestions I’m desperate at this point to change the way I have been living because it obviously is unhealthy and doesn’t work. Thank you


Sorry, i accidentally posted before typing.I am so happy for coming across tho article cause it helped me understand alot about myself that I previously couldn’t. I used to wonder what is wrong with me cause I could lash out at my friends when they would do nice things to me or say nice things to be. Like one time my best friend wrote me a letter of how much she appreciated my friendship but instead of replying with equal joy or going and thanking her, I ended up avoiding her and whenever she tried talking to me I’ll be so rude that it even scared me then I’ll feel bad and try being friendly again to her but omg she does something nice again I’ll go back to being rude. I’ll always go back to being normal after staying away from her or anyone else for maybe a week. It always made me feel terrible and the worst part was that I couldn’t control it but at least now I understand abit about it. Thank you.


I hope you won’t mind all the mistakes I made. I was in a hurry and didn’t have the time to re-read and correct mistakes.


I’m glad I came across this article. I always wondered why people reacted the way that they do when it comes to being loved. On more than one occasion, I have been severely hurt and emotionally damaged by females that I developed feelings for. Everything was fine until I told them how I felt about them. That’s when they went off. I don’t get that. I mean, why not just say “nothing is ever going to change because I don’t feel the same way. I only see you as a good friend.”? Why just go to pieces and intentionally hurt the person simply because they FEEL a certain way about you? The most recent time I told a female how i felt about her, I was told to apologize! Apologize??? FOR WHAT??? For loving her? Well, I didn’t apologize, because falling for someone isn’t wrong. I will NEVER under ANY circumstances apologize for my feelings. How stupid. Well, it effectively ended our friendship. Now, she hates me and wants me to die. She actually wishes I would drop dead. So, maybe it’s for the better that we never went any further than we did. Otherwise, i may not be here posting this today!


I am the one excepting the love of my partner. Can’t tell you how Bad I feel for hurting him every time he reaches out to me. I keep thinking is there something wrong with me? Why can’t I accept this man’s love he clearly loves me very deeply.
Know that I am aware of this is there any recommendations for help. I feel like I would be better off being by myself.

Helen Donald

Ich versuche mein Bestes, um Menschen glücklich zu machen und gute Auswirkungen in ihrem Leben zu erzielen. Ich suche nur nach der richtigen Person, mit der ich den Rest meines Lebens verbringen kann.


Hi, I cannot feel natural, genuine feelings for other people. I can be friendly, polite, kind and joke around but it’s all superficial. I have an inability to connect with anyone genuinely, authentically and naturally. I have to think about everything. It has caused untold amount of pain and suffering in my life. All I have ever wanted was a girlfriend and I cannot succeed because I am unable to form bonds with people. HELP Thanks


Hi, thank you so much this was really hurtful. I fret at the idea of marriage. I’m now 28 and have never had any wedding fairytale dream like every other normal girl. Even worse I’m terrified at the idea of having kids. I actually get angry from the thought. Recently I accepted a proposal of a man who has loved me since 2016, and has been patient with me until now. He loves God, is crazy about me and wants to marry next year. I rember at one point having a double date with him, my friend and her boyfriend plus her mom. When the conversation switched to babies, I felt as if I was suffocating, I couldn’t breathe normally, my heart rate increased, I felt like the room was closing in, I had to excuse myself from the table. Now when he calls me his wife I get furious. I feel like he is forcing me to quickly catch up with him and his feelings for me. Yes I do like and love him but at the same time I feel rushed. I was never ready to settle down but I’ve always craved for such love and have always dated bad boys whom I knew would never commit. I’m seriously trying to be grateful, count myself blessed and at the same time I feel suffocated, my personal space invaded and being rushed.


Is there a way to fix (for lack of a better word) this in people? Is there a way to make them like being loved or will they just always be like this?

Ash G

You know, none of those reasons are true for me, at least. I can tell you exactly why I have gotten angry at being shown love, in the past. It happened mostly because I didn’t think the person was compatible with me, and I didn’t want to have to stay with them just because they loved me. I resented that I would have to make the choice of either leaving him and being alone, or staying in a relationship with a person I didn’t like or respect very much. It was easier to pretend it was casual and would end without me having to cause the conflict, if he didn’t love me. So it made me angry to have to face that whole situation.

The only other time I’ve felt angry at someone expressing love to me is when it was very clearly a manipulative lie the person would use. Knowing someone a few weeks and then expressing that you love them, for example, is obviously frustrating because they’re either lying to get you to do something they want, or they’re not mentally well. Either way, it just reveals how much of a waste of time it was seeing this person.

Not to say I don’t appreciate love when it is expressed honestly and healthily, and from someone I want to love back.


This is psychobabble. Nothing here was about “Love”.
In the examples, the wife’s worry about the husband riding his bike actually communicated to him she didn’t trust his choices or his ability to direct his life. He should have been angry. Worry is fear-based and it is not love.
The boyfriend expressing he wanted to have children with the girlfriend is highly controlling and arrogant. Does she even want to marry him? Has he expressed his value in HER alone prior to this statement? Unless she already knew he valued her exactly as she was on her own, this statement communicates she is only worthy if she can give him what he wants. It was selfish. She was right to get nasty.
And praise? On occassion it works. But in many instances, its very condescending.

Love gets twisted up so much with neediness and codependency and often people who think they are being “loving” are really communicating their inadequacies, needs, and fears onto the other person. Rather then blame the healthy person, the unhealthy person needs to learn to express themselves better.

The wife with the husband felt afraid because SHE assessed a situation to be “worrisome”. So, she needs to own it. She is not afraid ‘for him’. She is simply afraid. If you dont see the difference, that’s indicative of codependency.
Ill spell it out.

Healthy statement:
“Honey, wow. The thought of me riding through a neighborhood at night scares me. How do you handle it?” (Communicates her feeling as a separate being without projection. Shows trust of him.)

Unhealthy statement:
“Honey. I am afraid of the idea of you riding through the neighborhood at night. Doesn’t that scare you?” (Communicates feeling in a relational manner and makes him responsible for her feelings as a result of his behavior. Projects the ownership onto him. Moreover, she is essentially telling him how he should feel, that is, scares, and is telling him that he needs to stop to make her happy. So she has essentially directed him and told him what to do. That is why he felt rage.)

Im a female btw. And if you love alpha man, you cant talk like the unhealthy option.

Im not explaining the other two. Just understand that humans are wired to connect to authentic Love, so if a person isn’t receiving love, the problem is with the transmitter. Rarely the receiver.


A mother throwing her hand out in front of her child in the passenger seat when slamming on the brakes is not simply fear.

It is fear for the safety of one you love. This instinctual shield stems from love and care for their safety.

It is action without thinking inherent within a mother’s love for her child.

Instant worried love.

A partner expressing initial thoughts out loud in regards to their loved ones safety is not simple worry. You’re repainting cautious worry to imply there is a negative connotation behind caring for your partner which is erroneous. It is not a nagging type statement meant to state their inadequacies or to state that you have no faith in their abilities to correctly operate equipment.

To even be looking for a reason to find negativity in caring for a loved ones based on how they voice their want for you to be safe is for you to verbally critique genuinity and state that you must manipulate your words to feign self depreciating manners in order to stroke their ego first before showing any genuine care…. Which is not love.

It is fake buttering up of an obvious negative personality that is regularly looking for constant praise while looking to find fault in how you address them.

That is a sign of a controlling relationship that has denied one or both from speaking freely and impulsively, directly from the heart.

Your train of thought plays in real time equal to your ability to verbalize it.

If you are constantly looking for how to prove your love by vapid ego inflation at the onset of all communication ….while stating your lesser abilities or bravery or self confidence then you are stating that you are not free to love openly or voice your instinctual caring nature in real time.

You are stating that you are submissive to a domineering person who finds fault in your emotional responses to them who only wishes to hear instant gratification to their infallible greatness at all things ego ,instead of hear the love stemming from your caution/gut instinct/intuition/fear based love for their well being.

Real love never finds fault with intuition or convinces you to ignore your own.


This really explains a lot about my wife’s seemingly irrationable behavior. We met when she was in a bad place I’m her life, I fell in love with her, and I of course wanted to help and care for her, while it was good at first I found she began to sabotage my efforts while at the same time berating me for failure to live up to what I was trying to accomplish. She became increasing paranoid about saying that she thought I was purposely trying to destroy her life. I still love her and I always will! I desperately wish I could find a way to to reach her and let her know and be able to trust in my love and accept it. She was always trying to show and demonstrate her love for me but it always seemed she needed to say that love required her to sacrifice too much of herself and would often turn 180 degrees to expressing anger and a desire to stop loving me and even hate me. I have to admit that I did not often react in the best way I should have and she holds that up as proof that we should not be together, but I know that inside she loves me and needs my love. What be done to work through our issues

Sara Mammarella

Thank you for verbalizing what I really knew deep down inside but couldn’t organize or describe in such a succinct manner. If no one told you, you are brilliant.



I am writing a comment on this article because I help to receive an advice.
I like a lot a man who has never been loved, he even admitted it. He says a lot of times, he doesn’t deserve love and I should be carefull with him because he hurts people around him, he is not a good person. He never had a relationshio as strange as it may sound. I am not bothered about this. Normally I would have runend away but I felt to stay even when I found this.
The point is that I thought I can handle him with my care for him, with encouraging him all the time with my good words and actions towards him. I chosed to do it because I felt it so. I feel for him a strong connection and he does the same. I do not usually ” complicate” my life with other people issues because I have my own emotional ones and work on them. I just I want to stay even if he is hard to handle. I felt i want because i feel we belong somehow.

I am there for him always and I understand some of his way of acting are just a defense mechanism and a mask but sometimes i really don’t know what to do anymore, he makes me tired but I still love him. Never been in this situation. He asks me all the time why I didn’t leaved until now? When things are working is like he search for a reason not to. I was always patient and there for him, i assured him about how he really is a wonderful person ( because he is despite all his flaws, he has great parts), i stayed patiently with him trying to make him undertastand certain things.

I need an advice how to treat him. If I ask myself why I put myself through this I don\t know. I just feel a lot for him and i know he deserves it. I don’t want to let him go but sometimes I am lost ….

Evana cham

Thank you so much,i finally got this article after a long search… So after reading this article and comments it makes me feel that I’m not only one facing this weird problem. This is the reason I’m single and lonely.. even if if my dearest person(family members,crush) started to show me a more love and care then I started to feel irritated and love changed to hate… ?


OMG!!! This is so true about me. I realized it these days in the age of 31. I can’t stop crying. It is so difficult to overcome all these hidden skeletons within me. I keep destroying the relationship because of all these patterns that had been formed in my mindset. Yet I don’t know how to help myself. Thank you very much for this article.


Which source or book can I officially find this on. I would like to include it as a reference for my paper on “Pushing Love Away.” Hope someone could help me, thank you!

C. Patrick

Despite the condensed nature of this post, I found it very helpful in understanding myself and my son. I got him when he was 14 and only had him for 3 months before he broke the law and had to leave but he’s my son for life and I pray that he will be free from the pain, lies and distortions that bind him. Thank you Dr. Firestone for sharing this post.


Hi Dr. Firestone,

I recently read your article titled “Why Do So Many People Respond Negatively to Being Loved?”, and I was struck in awe how much I could relate to my personal life. I’ve had numerous failed relationships, and they all seem to end the same way. At first I thought it was the girls I was dating, but this time around, the girl who I thought I will marry, ended just like the others. It became evident to me that there is clearly something wrong with me, how I push people away, how I become aggressive, unpleasant, cold, when I am being showered with love and kisses – something that I didn’t grow up with consistently. It is only now that I began researching why I am like this and what could have caused this. I plan on purchasing your book to get more answers, but how do I go about changing myself? Everything happens so quick, so fast, sometimes I am unable to control my emotions, and when they are all out – it is usually too late. Then I go through a period of guilt, resentment, only to hurt someone I love/loved me again. I want to break this chain and my behavior but I dont know where to begin and how to control my reactions as well as how do I let someone in again. I’ve had walls up for years. It is draining, and none of these women I was with deserved it.


“…provokes a painful identity crisis…”

“Accepting being loved stirs up painful existential issues…”

This is me to a T. What’s worse is that I am not comfortable being alone, either. And even worse, the anxiety and depression generated by my aversion to my wife’s love and affection is off the charts.

Does anyone else experience awful psychological symptoms in this situation in addition to the feeling generated by intimacy? I feel like a freak.

joe vee

I am writing this comment with tears of joy. My marriage fell apart after 6 months because my mother In-law asked my husband to divorce me and marriage the woman she betroth to him as his wife. All this drama started happening in our marriage and my husband left me and our one month baby just so he could do as his mom wants him to.


Now that most women these days have very high unrealistic expectations, along with their very high standards which makes it very difficult for many of us single guys trying to find love unfortunately.


At the age of 17 a boy who i loved with my whole heart confess to me but i got so furious that i tore the card he gave me in pieces and throw away. Even i didn’t read it I just read the first three word I want to know why do I do that?


I’m going through this now. I ended a relationship two weeks ago because I was feeling trapped and I was starting to get angry. All he ever did was love me and give me space when I needed it. I was trying so hard to let him into my life but was dealing with so much inner turmoil due to the push-pull dynamic, and I wasn’t recognizing myself anymore. I am distraught that I acted this way, when I know I want to have a loving relationship, and I push away a caring man. I cry over feeling helpless and not wanting to be this way anymore. Thankfully I’m in therapy, but my heart still hurts that I had to let him go. He didn’t deserve to be cut off and left wondering what I was thinking.
I just want to get well and learn to love in a healthy way. Life is too short.


I feel like you are the female version of what I have been through with a guy . So glad I read your story . Can you look at my story and maybe help clarify what you think . It’s very similar . Love to you too xx


This is interesting read. I could do with some advice.
I met a lovely guy that was so into me . We had both been through a lot in our life. Him more than me on such a deep emotional level .
He suffered with sexual abuse in his childhood from a stranger. Neglect from parents and then married a lady 25 years older than him who he adored and she died 8 years later . Then eventually 3 years on he met another lady who he says had toxic patterns in her behaviour & he gave her everything and loved her so much.
8 months on he meets me , he said he was over his recent ex but it soon was obvious he was not . Trauma bonded maybe but his conversations so early on was about attachment styles , his ex Partner & his Past abuse . He cried on me a thew times. As much as I was there for him he Soon became distant , nasty , putting others down . All His close family was having issues And his work load was intense . Well I was pushed away the minute I wanted more stability in where we was heading as I felt it was unfair for me to constantly listen to all these problems. I was falling for him big time & I would of been there for him as long as I felt that love back . I only saw him every 3rd weekend with texts everyday & phone calls every thew other days . He was so excited To message me some days heard lots from him and others He was suffering with some sort of health issue or feeling lonely & how his friends in his life had not been intouch . I couldn’t keep up with it all. Sadly he rang to say he had thought about what I had said and how he needed time out. He felt he was heading for a breakdown with his work load and how he knew he was not fully into giving his all and how it wasn’t fair on me. He said he didn’t want to do this and I hadn’t done nothing wrong . He needed time out but he would be intouch when he felt better but didn’t know when that would be .
I feel like I was A rebound , but I met his friends , he took me to a very expensive romantic weekends away , he showed my picture to his family , I spoke with his niece on the phone . Running up to this I started to think he had depression, he wanted to be held but also vague in his look . Talkative to very quiet . Constantly bringing up conversations he had with others . Also he was always trying to get me jealous so I thought by always talking about others coming into him . Of which I ignored I would not give him a reaction.
Am hurt very much hurt . I think he is a lost boy in a mans body Searching for his perfect Late wife in everyone . P.s I was the third lady since his last relationship but I got further than the others. What’s people’s thoughts on this ?


I have just realized my fear of commitment.
I dont know if I am asexual or just scared of intimacy, and I also don’t tell people my thoughts and feelings and whenever someone gives me affection I cringe and feel embarrassed for them and want to get away from them and hide. I dont know why this happens.


Wow, I’m continuing on this thread to see that I’m truly not all alone with all this, even though my whole life I have always felt so. I used school as a way to “stay busy” and not deal with relationships or getting close to people, and now finishing college I’m looking to just adventure, explore, and stay even busier so I don’t have to think about the issues I have with these kinds of things.

Some people think relationships are so easy, but to me, they are harder than figuring out calculus. I could never understand why I acted the way I do, why I lashed out, why I couldn’t just “get it” and now I do. This article literally has taken everything shoved to the back of my head and put it in print.

I did this a few years ago to my ex who loved me so much but I couldn’t understand why since I was never told “I love you” in my childhood for a long time. I’ve always felt people are fake when they say this and they’re not truly loving every part of me because they don’t understand 100% who I am inside and out. With all the problems besides the natural beauty. Besides this, our world is so rushed nowadays and everyone’s on a dating app/site of some kind I feel like there are no real connections anymore, it’s all about what you see but sadly some people will learn too late that’s not just what you’re gonna get.

I’ve had multiple friends, teachers, doctors tell me to seek therapy but every time I did, it never helped me with my problems. Only worked around them instead of addressing them correctly. I don’t even know where to start now. I feel like I have ‘years of trauma’ that it would take me till I’m 70 to unravel them all. And what’s frustrating is none of this is my fault, I never asked to have the childhood I did, the fights, yelling, fist throwing. I never asked to be ‘broken’ when I used to be the happiest little girl at once point.

I’m slowly trying to tell myself it’s not me, it was them that did this but when all they do is act like everything’s okay, how can you forgive yourself? Calm yourself down when you’re having mental breakdown after breakdown? I know my family cares to some extent, but unfortunately, it’s too late for their words or actions now to have any mark as I truly will never see them any other way than what has happened in the past. They have tried to make up for it but just like Maya Angelou said “people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I never wanted to believe I had PTSD, depression, anxiety, an avoidant-attachment relationship style until I jumped online and did my research. I never wanted to believe this. It’s crazy how powerful the brain is but I have gotten better in some ways but then a lot of times I see and experience myself falling into my old negative thoughts.

Because of this, I’m not interested in becoming married at any point in my life because I feel like it will end up an utter failure and a mocking stock for the whole world (obviously I would want to post pics of it online when that happens but maybe social media will just mysteriously vanish at some point?). I’ve also just taken to focusing on what I love, traveling, animals, helping people, volunteering. I figured since I can’t properly love others, I will focus on loving things and places. It’s the most I can do for all the pain I have buried inside and getting through the rest of my life which I’m not even sure is worth continuing on sometimes with all of this.

I wish I could meet everyone who commented on this article to connect with as I truly feel like I have no one but it’s comforting to know I’m not alone. I just wish in schools we were taught more about this stuff than math and English which are really gonna get us nowhere far. I can’t explain to the people on the other end exactly how I feel in my head and what is going on, and I wish they would do their research too, but I can’t force them. At the same time though, I have a hard time understanding how they are ‘normal’ when I’ve been nothing but normal my whole life.

If some of you are like me, I know there are days we cannot absolutely live with ourselves and we just need a breather from the world. I would say “everything’s going to be okay” but we know that’s BS when that’s said by the exact same people who don’t have these problems at all.

I hope we all find enjoyment and fulfillment in our lives from whatever it is that makes us happy because we honestly don’t always need to be with someone, or have someone there. I think our world pushes this idea too much nowadays with being “#relationshipgoals” or “#youresoperfect” that is honestly fucks up our brain so much. I know I am which is why I had to get off social media entirely.

I love you all and as a final note, want each and every single one of you to know that you are fighters. You are beautiful. Because we are ‘wired differently’ we are the ones who are pushing boundaries a bit further with our careers, our dreams, our plans.

Nothing great was ever achieved without failure or times of hardship. And the ones who are remembered most are those who stood out from the rest.


Thank you for your article, Robert.
It helped me understand why it feels like my heart is ripping apart whenever someone gets too close it.
I’ve been through multiple programs,12 step, counseling, plant ceremonies, and have grown, but the pain body is still there deep within me. I wonder if it’s not essential to find a way to be able to fully experience that body of pain and love myself to the other side. I just don’t know how to sit with it. Thoughts?
I’d like to be able to have a genuine loving relationship.


This was sort of a relief to read. I found this by asking Google why is it that if I’m happy or delighted about things my husband always finds a way to make sure I get sad. For years I didn’t see it all. I kept on loving him without it angering me. Yes I was confused but I took the emotional beating. After attempting to communicate about it and he was angered to a bad degree I then started feeling as though he was purely a narcissist *sshole. That I had been played all those years. He has never apologized for anything he was wrong about or hurt me deeply with. I find out he has justified because he thought I had cheated on him in the beginning but it just was not true. He claimed to know it for a fact. It sickened me to think about all the love and tenderness I gave. All the life taken out of me to give to him. He once said as he was saying he was leaving me because I needed him to spend a little time with me one day, that he didn’t get his moneys worth out of me and he was going to tear up crap when he left. He even said he’d burn my house down. Oh by the way my home had been baught and paid for way before he arrived…. He had always kept his money to blow while I took care of us. I use to have some money and now I don’t and we stuggle to make it. Because of him. And he hadn’t got his moneys worth. Some days it’s very difficult to like home muchless love him.
He is exhausting with all this making me feel stupid for giviny love to him at all. Devalued and isolated is what he has created for me in my life.
He still give me the silent treatment, I’m never right, and the more I give the more he takes. I always prayed that him being dislexic made him have things backwards sometimes. That just isn’t true either. I do keep having hope. A lot of time has went by and alot of investment by me in everyway…
But I’m hoping to implement ways to present this idea to him. That he has been hating my love for some reason. Its not ok for me not to understand the pain I’ve been put through. It has given to me the lowest self esteem you could ever think of. Thank you for this. I needed to hear that it’s not me making him hate my love. I know I love well. He just doesn’t know about how to accept it… Idk… I’m just reaching for answers!


I have a a question, how do we make the feeling good away? For me when I feel loved I feel somewhat embarrassed when it comes to dating someone and I feel angry towards anyone else who tries to love me.

Jennifer ODonnell

The guy i love most in this world says yeah right when I say I love you or makes me feel I treat other people better and its not the case!how do I make him know that I would die fr this guy!


Most people I know respond negatively to being lied to. My girlfriend said ridiculous things like “I knew you were the one when I first laid eyes on you”, “you’re so hot you make me tingle”, or “I can’t want to kiss you.” This is all complete BS and she knows it. I find it manipulative and insulting. When I told her I didn’t appreciate being lied to, she got very upset and dumped me. Good riddance.


My very recently ex-girlfriend made the comment to me that I was “hot”, she got butterflies when I was on my way over, and was the most handsome guy she’d ever seen. I was very surprised at the wave of fury (yes, absolute FURY) that came over me when I heard that. My thoughts were “how DARE she lie to me like that! What the hell does she want from me? Is she blind, or just delusional? Here’s proof she’s mentally unstable.”

I was not able to hide my anger from her, and she was so confused. It was part of what ended our relationship. After that point I couldn’t trust her judgement or believe anything she said. That’s why I’m researching this topic. I’ve never felt fury like that before; I really felt like she was lying to my face. This is of course because of my poor self esteem and the attach on the belief system I’ve had for years. Is it possible to overcome this? I never want to be “complimented” like that again.

David Cha

This article describes my wife/our marriage of 33 years to a tee. She lost her father when she was five. She has a younger sister and they, with her mom, had a very rough time surviving. I am a first generation immigrant – had been in the U.S. since 1971 – and met my wife in our native country when she was 25. (1989) Although she is very attractive, a college graduate, and seemingly desirable in every way, she had never had a boyfriend or even kissed before she met me. I was told that she received and rejected more than 10 marriage proposals. I had to come back to the U.S in a few days so we filed for marriage license at the US embassy and I left without consummating the marriage. She joined me in the states 6 months later and had a wedding ceremony. All seemed to go well, although she wasn’t very affectionate and seemed to be somewhat uncomfortable when we were alone, especially on trips. I figured she just wasn’t used to it and that she would gradually open up. But things didn’t improve no matter how hard I tried. She never accepted me as being on her side, even though she cannot cite one example that might cause her to think otherwise. I could never get her to trust me and her hostility and negative feelings toward me was getting more stark, especially after intimacy – always initiated by me and reluctantly agreed by her. When I ask what her complaints are and what I can do/change to help, she just shuts down. I’m at my wit’s end and don’t know what else to do…
She seems to be emotionally too thick, too hard, & too cold. I know that sounds harsh but I just cannot seem to break through – or just crack – the wall she has built around herself.
Reading this article was somewhat comforting in itself because it describes our situation exactly! I have been diagnosed with parkinson’s disease and I hope to be able to help her and improve our relationship before my symptoms get worse. Please help! I need advice as to what I can/ should do to improve our relationship…

Lee Rato

I have just read the article and i am going through something similar. i do not want to be loved, i feel that it is a scam and that the person saying ” i love you” can change their mind in the next minute. i was told in the past that i have trust issues but experience also showed me that i am not lovable. From my family, colleagues and romantic partners anything can change at any given moment. So i found my self rejecting love…”Do not love me, i don’t want it” are my exact words when someone says they love me especially romantic partners. And i as soon as i feel some sort of a depended feeling towards someone i psychologically break up with them. Then i will go through the healing process, telling myself not to be attached and that they may and can leave at anytime. Setting them free and also i will start to feel nothing towards them. I wont be intimate and it will become super difficult for me to share my feeling and emotions.


Paragraph 6 spoke out to me the most. I’m 24 year old male, and at the end of my first relationship my existential dread increased drastically. I didn’t know how fear of death and repulsion of love can be related, until now. Thank you.

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