How to Love Someone Who Feels Unworthy

Years ago, I was watching “The Bachelor”. I don’t typically watch reality shows, buy sometimes I do enjoy watching these sort of shows and watching how people present themselves in the dating world.

There was one woman who shared with others some painful memories about her life.  I understand. We want to feel heard and seen. However, when she was done sharing her story, she said, “I’m just…isn’t my story amazing?! It’s tragic, but it’s amazing. I love my story.”

I chuckled because I couldn’t imagine myself ever saying that.

Though that was an interesting part of the show, I was actually more interested in the relationship guru they had on there. He took time to get those paired up on a date out of their comfort zones. At one point, they were just centimeters away from each other’s face, breathing heavily as part of an exercise. For me, that would have been quite awkward.

What struck me was when they had to share a mask that they were wearing; a fear or concern. Something that they felt that if they shared, they would become very vulnerable.

I think we all know that it can be challenging to be vulnerable because many view it as a negative thing, especially when you just meet someone.

The woman said she felt like she was unworthy to be loved.

The unlovable woman.

The woman who has battled some sort of traumatic event in the past, has been emotionally neglected, verbally or sexually abused, or just beaten down by a society that puts too much emphasis on outward appearance.

It broke my heart to hear her say she feels unworthy to be loved.

That she felt unloved.

It breaks my heart because this is a feeling that MANY women struggle with. It’s a feeling I struggled with for decades. The woman mentioned that if a man gave her attention (emotional and physical), she would then feel beautiful.

That sounds amazing, but I believe that if she feels unworthy single, she’ll most likely feel unworthy in a relationship.

Why? 

Because true worth does not come from the words or actions of another person.  “Feeling” worthy and loved has to come from your own self. Your core self. The self that you’ve been piling layer after layer of masks on over the years.

Things like negative thoughts, self-loathing, self-sabotage, alcohol, drugs, sex, lovers, and more. I know this all too well. I’ve been there. I felt unloved, unimportant and unworthy. I felt like a failure. Sure, I wore a great mask and most everyone thought I had my life together, but all that mask did was keep me in my own dark, cold prison.

It was there that I slowly died a grueling death. Well, not me, but the shadow side of my ego. I opted to begin a spiritual journey inside. I vowed to excavate all the layers and revisit old wounds from my childhood. I determined to buck up and do some things different. And it took a few years of hardcore inner work, but I did it with the help of a trained counselor, regular meditation, journaling, retreats, the best friends and sister.

(Isn’t my story amazing?) 

While going from self-loathing to self-affirming IS an amazing story, I share this because I know too many women who are still stuck in that feeling unworthy mode. They feel unloved by themselves (some hate themselves). They feel insecure and unloved by others. They’re in a battle for sure. They don’t know how to open up; how to be vulnerable. They’re afraid to face the hurt, disappointment, pain, agony, grief, past, etc. 

How do we love a woman who feels unworthy?

I’m sure we all know women who are struggling. Just as that woman opened up on national television about this very thing, maybe some of us can become transparent and admit that we too struggle with feeling worthy and valued.  At times, we feel utterly alone – even when we have friends and family.

Do you have someone in your life who is guarded? She’s put a rock-solid wall up around her heart and she’s determined not to let you in. She’s hard. She’s independent and she’ll be darned if she’s asking you for help.

She’s scared. She feels like if she lets her masks fall to the floor and her heart become pliable, you’ll rip her to shreds. You’ll laugh at her weakness and abandon her. You might even feel like YOU have to become vulnerable and that doesn’t sound appealing to you at all.

The following are some tips to help you love and stick by someone who feels unworthy:

  1. Give her some space.
    Be patient and let her have a little room to breathe. If you start demanding, “you have to do this…” she may freak out and shut down.  Again, be patient. She’s fragile. She’s aware of her vulnerability and she needs you to be delicate with her.
  1. Show her unconditional love.
    Unconditional means “having no conditions”.  If she keeps her heart locked, love her anyway. If she won’t open up when you want her to, love her anyway. If she tells you that you should leave her alone, love her anyway. Authentic love keeps loving even when conditions don’t suit you. Unconditional love may eventually break her walls down one brick at a time. Don’t take everything so personal. Be confident in yourself and just love.
  1. Let her figure things out.
    No one could MAKE me feel worthy and loved.  Sure, people loved me. My family, friends, and partner. They adored me, but I couldn’t feel it.  Why? I didn’t really love myself. I hated when people would say, “You can’t really love others well until you love yourself first.” While I do believe we can love others even when we loathe ourselves, I also believe that the quality of that love can become so amazing the more we adore ourselves. Let her figure things out. Let her let you in slowly. She’s not going to thrust open the gates in a moment.  Earn her trust and trust the process of it all.
  1. Be realistic.
    Maybe she will never feel worthy of love. We don’t know. If this is the case, you must be realistic. It’s not your fault and if she is the object of your romantic affection, you might seriously have to move it along at some point. Not every cold heart will be melted warm. Not every hurt woman will do the work required to heal.  There’s no shame in being honest with yourself and your loved one when you feel you’re no longer compatible the way things are going.

If you happen to feel unworthy and you feel you don’t deserve love or respect, my heart goes out to you. It’s a lousy, empty feeling for sure. But I want to encourage you, because you can begin a new journey inward to get to the root of such feelings. You can unearth the junk or wounds that are blocking your amazing beauty residing at your core. You can awaken to the reality that you are not only worthy of abundant, magnificent love, YOU ARE LOVE! 

Yes, you can. Perhaps it’s time to reach out for some help. Begin the journey.

 

Photo by Yan Miranda from Pexels

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