“I don’t deserve love” is an extremely painful and damaging belief. Many people struggle with feelings of unworthiness when it comes to relationships. This can stem from past rejections, childhood trauma, or low self-esteem.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll explore the root causes of believing you’re undeserving of love, how this belief can ruin your relationships, and most importantly – how to overcome it.
If you feel you don’t deserve love due to past rejections, insecurities or childhood issues, examine these beliefs through self-reflection, therapy, building self-worth, and taking small risks in dating. You must believe you deserve love before you can find it.
Table Of Contents
“I Don’t Deserve Love”: Why Do Some People Feel This Way?
There are a few key reasons why someone may feel unworthy of love and affection:
Our core beliefs about ourselves and relationships often stem from childhood. If you grew up with critical, absent, or abusive parents, you may have developed an internal narrative that you are unlovable. Children require unconditional love to develop secure attachment and self-worth. Without it, they are left with painful feelings of being defective, worthless, or undeserving.
Trauma and Abuse
Experiencing emotional, physical, or sexual abuse can severely impact one’s self-image. Victims often wrongly blame themselves and feel too damaged or tainted to be worthy of real love. This is especially common in cases of sexual assault, which leaves a lingering feeling of being “used goods.”
Rejection and Heartbreak
Romantic rejections and betrayals also feed the belief we don’t deserve true, lasting love. After being dumped, cheated on, or ghosted repeatedly, it’s easy to feel unworthy of real commitment. We replay past rejections in our minds as proof that we are flawed, unattractive, or unlovable.
Low self-esteem and negative self-talk prevent us from believing we deserve happiness with a loving partner. We view ourselves as uninteresting, ugly, or too flawed to be loved. We don’t acknowledge our positive traits and instead, fixate on our perceived shortcomings and mistakes.
How Belief “I don’t deserve love” Ruins Relationships
Believing you are undeserving of love becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that sabotages your relationships in several ways:
You never put yourself out there and approach potential partners because deep down you feel unworthy of their interest and affection. You avoid taking emotional risks that could lead to rejection.
Staying in Abusive/Unhealthy Relationships
You cling to toxic, abusive, or one-sided relationships because at least it’s some form of affection. You hold the belief that you are unworthy of receiving different treatment.
You unconsciously say and do things that push loving partners away, validating your belief that you can’t be loved. This self-sabotage provides “proof” that you will end up rejected.
You constantly criticize your partner’s flaws to protect yourself. This masks your fear that they will reject you once they see your own shortcomings. You push them away preemptively to avoid being rejected by them first.
You seek attention and validation from extramarital affairs to reassure yourself that you are desirable since you don’t believe your partner could genuinely love you.
Jealousy and Neediness
You become jealous and overly possessive of your partner. Deep down you feel you don’t deserve their love, so you see others as threats who will take it away.
Clearly, this belief “I don’t deserve love” wreaks havoc on relationships. The path to lasting love requires a fundamental belief that you truly deserve it. Here’s how to get there:
How to Overcome Feeling You Don’t Deserve Love
Examine the Root Causes
Reflect on your past and identify events or messages that planted seeds of unworthiness. Were you constantly criticized as a child? Did a parent abandon you? Have you faced repeated heartbreaks and betrayals? Shine a light on when and how you started feeling undeserving of love.
Doing the lost inner child test can help you with it.
Confront Negative Self-Talk
Pay attention to your inner critic and self-limiting beliefs. When you hear “I don’t deserve love”, “I’m unlovable” or “I always get rejected”, argue with this self-talk. Ask yourself if this is really true, or just a destructive story you tell yourself.
My blog post on how to stop the inner critic will help you with it.
Many of us are far kinder to others than ourselves. Treat yourself with the same empathy, care, and understanding you would show a loved one struggling with self-worth. Don’t beat yourself up.
Here you can find tips on how to create a feeling of unconditional self-acceptance.
Build Your Self-Confidence
Make a list of your positive qualities that would make you a wonderful partner. Read it daily. Engage in actions that bring about a positive sense of self-worth. Self-confidence is key to believing you deserve love.
Surround Yourself with Positive People
Allocate additional time to be in the company of friends and family who acknowledge and appreciate your value. Avoid toxic people who reinforce feelings of unworthiness. Their perspectives can distort your self-image.
Get Therapy or Coaching
A therapist or transformational coach can help you unravel childhood programming, trauma, emotional wounds, and other root causes of feeling undeserving. They can provide tools to rebuild self-esteem and make peace with the past.
Take Small Risks
Build trust in yourself by taking small risks, like making a dating profile or chatting with a crush you normally avoid. With each risk that ends positively, your belief that you deserve love grows.
Reframe Failures as Learning
When dating missteps inevitably happen, don’t label yourself a failure. View bad dates and breakups as learning experiences, not proof you are unworthy of love. You deserve to try until you succeed.
Set Standards – And Stick to Them
Know your core values in a partner and don’t compromise just to avoid loneliness. You deserve someone who treats you with respect. Don’t cling to toxic relationships “just because.”
Be Picky – You Deserve The Best!
Instead of anxiously pursuing anyone who shows interest, be selective. Remind yourself that you deserve the best possible partner, not just whoever comes along. The right person won’t view you as undeserving.
Do Shadow Work
Shadow work involves exploring your dark side – insecurities, shameful acts, repressed emotions, and other inner demons we try to hide, even from ourselves. Shining a light on them helps us accept ourselves wholly.
According to psychologist Carl Jung, “That which we do not bring to consciousness appears in our lives as fate.” What you resist, persists. Embrace your shadows through journaling, shadow work prompts, therapy, or deep conversations with trusted loved ones.
Owning your flaws and shadows allows self-love, without which you cannot believe you deserve love from others.
Feeling I don’t deserve love is extremely painful. But it doesn’t have to be a permanent mindset. With reflection, self-nurturing, and a willingness to take risks and learn from failures, you can gradually rebuild your self-image and believe you deserve an amazing partner who cherishes you.
You are worthy of love – don’t let difficult pasts or toxic voices convince you otherwise. You possess all you need to create the fulfilling relationships you desire, once you believe you deserve it.