Giving Love as the Cure For Not Being Loved

We come into this world needing love. If we don’t get the love we need at the beginning of life there are dire consequences, all the way from threats to our physical survival to life long emotional scars. Nevertheless, we human beings are extremely resilient and can learn to survive the hardship of being brought up by people with psychological limitations in their ability to give and receive love.

Learning from unhealthy relationship experiences earlier in life is usually unconscious and it is common to bring what was learned into adulthood in the form of  limitations in how to give and receive love. Love life disappointments are the consequence of this unconscious learning about love relationships that too often lead to a feeling of resignation about ever finding love in one’s life. I originally became aware of the large number of people living in this state of resignation when  I received a wave of commentary in response to the first article I wrote on the topic: “Living Without Love In Your Life.” I even re-wrote the article several times in response to what I learned from the commentary I received.

One idea, however, has stayed in the back of my mind ever since: possibility of curing the frustrated need for love by practicing the giving of love. People who are resigned to never having love in their lives again or for the very first time complain of being unloved, lonely, and forgotten by others. I find that people in this state of resignation have buried the disappointments they have experienced in relationships from the start of life as the true cause of their resignation. Their past love life disappointments have taught them to avoid the possibility of getting hurt again.

Their avoidance commonly takes the form of rigidly believing that all love relationships end badly. So they avoid any situation that might bring love again into their experience of living. Giving to others is lumped into this defensive avoidance because they intuitively know that giving love naturally stimulates a return of love. In other words, it is common to get love because you’ve given love without expecting to get it back. A wonderful secret little formula in human emotional experience.

Of course, giving love can take many different forms, all the way from taking care of someone in need to involving oneself in causes that help people. My critics might say, how can someone give love when they have not received the love they’ve needed in their lives? The simple assumption here is that not getting love means you don’t have it to give. My counter is, the ability to fall in love comes with us when we are born. It is a human capacity that is an original part of being human that is beyond experience.

I believe it is possible to bring the capacity to love to consciousness in a person’s life regardless of how disappointed they may have been in love relationships. Not easily unfortunately, because disappointed people fight hard to avoid further disappointment by sticking to the unhealthy things they’ve unconsciously learned about love relationships. Nevertheless, if one is willing to work on getting the barriers out of the way, becoming aware of one’s capacity to love when resigned to disappointment, and experimenting with giving it, is a wonderful thing to witness.

Comments are welcome. tell me about your love life experience.

Dr. Thomas Jordan, clinical psychologist, author of Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life. Need help fixing your disappointing love life? Confidential Love Life Consultations available by phone, inquire at


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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.


  1. Mark on February 8, 2024 at 6:12 pm

    My wife wants to leave me. She wrote to me, “In fact the reason I am leaving you is I cannot love myself the way I need to in your presence.” My wife and I have had a rocky 32 years of marriage. I feel we are both at fault for the Rocky marriage. We met when we were 25 and she has always been hesitant to fully let herself love me. Like she would give 95%… Any advice, she will not see any counseling…

    • Dr. Jordan on February 9, 2024 at 8:25 pm

      Hi Mark, thanks for your comment and question. The fact the your wife will not consider counseling either as a couple or individually is a significant barrier to improving the situation. Her statement that she “cannot love myself in your presence” appears to be a personal emotional issue for her that requires some kind of treatment. Sometimes people are reserved about giving love because of some hurtful experience earlier in life. If she were able to consider a couple treatment she could figure out with you what in herself and in the relationship inhibits her ability to love and work on changing it. You were able to tolerate the rocky 95% love she could give you for 32 years. Despite her wanting to leave, the fact that you stayed in the marriage that long is in my mind an act of love. I hope at some point she can realize that. Otherwise, I would seek individual counseling for yourself to help grieve the loss in the healthiest way possible.
      Dr. Jordan

  2. H. on February 25, 2024 at 11:42 am

    All my life – literally since childhood – I’ve been giving (and my gifts were/are quite extraordinary, even if I say so myself – among other people); in fact, what I gave is/was the only thing I “have”.
    I doubt that I’ll ever stop giving of myself because it’s a sort of natural reflex; but what used to be the bliss of giving out of grateful overabundance is now just that: a natural reflex in which I find little joy. I never expected anything in return – I never even *needed* (or so I thought) anything beyond the intimate awareness that I may have made someone’s life better or more beautiful, more hopeful, more joyful ; no, more than that: I never even perceived it as “giving”, if that makes sense. I just shared of myself – of the overabundance of my own gifts, of my own joy of life, of my own hope and of my own sense of beauty of this world. Deep down, I know now, there must have been an implicit, unthought-of certainty that love and tenderness and passion would find me. As it turned out, not only was I deemed to be a gift “too good to be true” (an actual quote) and was left on the shelf, but I’ve lived most of my adult life without the most basic of human comforts: sex, hugs, warm human touch, TRUE friendship. The last tender hug that meant anything to me, that fed my heart, was my mother’s – and she died 17 years ago. By now, even my former voracious “skin hunger” has died out; no more do feel the crazy drive to dance; music – one of the great passions of my life since childhood – means nothing to me.

    So, by all means, give, give, give… Just be aware that your own giving may turn out to be the only thing you ever “get”; and eventually it may turn out that it’s just not enough.

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