The Issue With Feeling Unlovable When You're Mentally Ill

February 9, 2012 Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Mental illness can spur feelings that we are unlovable. Having a mental Illness does not make us unlovable, it makes us human. Share the love. Read this.

The issue with feeling unlovable. The issue? It can be an issue and pardon me for being redundant here. The topic for this post was derived from a comment a reader made. This person mentioned the word unlovable in the context of mental illness. I quickly scribbled the word down and put it away for a couple days.

I open my day-timer today and see the word, UNLOVEABLE, written in large and bold text by my own hands. I sort of grimaced, watching the rain fall from a gray sky outside my window, and wondered if I really had to put it in bold, I mean, it's not as if I have no experience with feeling unlovable. I feel it often, and if you struggle with mental illness, well, perhaps you do too.

Now, unlovable is a rather complicated word, so let's try to define it with (yes, again) my thesaurus. It's nice to step outside of our minds and try a practical approach to definition.

Defining the Feeling 'Unlovable' In Terms of Mental Illness

To be unlovable is to be (and stay with me here): unloved (yes, the thesaurus states the obvious yet again). But it also lists the following words as synonyms for unlovable:


>Forsaken (I will not lie; I just pictured a bad horror movie)


>Thrown over (It states this with no further explanation)

>Spurned (I would need to look up this definition in order to explain it)

Mental illness can spur feelings that we are unlovable. Having a mental Illness does not make us unlovable it makes us human.So, that's that. The word rejected makes sense. Mental illness can make us feel rejected, not part of society, perhaps even thrown over, whatever that means. Uncherished, this word often tied to the emotional aspect of love, is also relative. But what does it feel like to believe that, on some level, we are unlovable largely because of our illness?

Mental Illness Can Make A Person Feel Unlovable

That's the truth and it's important to explain why. There are two answers that come to mind:

>The diagnosis spurs feelings that we will not be accepted because of our illness. We cannot be loved;

>These feelings, beliefs, serve to isolate ourselves.

The reality, moving past the issue of feeling unlovable, is that we are not unlovable we are instead empathetic, human, real. The reality: you are not unlovable. Having a mental illness can be a largely negative experience but it has positive aspects. Yes, positive.

>Being diagnosed with a mental illness forces us to open our eyes; the world isn't always kind, not to any of us.

>At some point in our lives, as human beings, we all feel unlovable. Having a mental illness can be isolating but we all experience these feelings and although the illness can make us feel unique, make us unique, it also makes us human.

>Learning to live with mental illness, accept it, opens us up to other people: we are less likely to pass judgment on others.

This issue of love and mental illness, of love itself, resides in textbooks. I can only touch on it lightly but I hope that readers will share their experience and feelings on the topic.

In other words, share the love...sorry, bad joke!

APA Reference
Jeanne, N. (2012, February 9). The Issue With Feeling Unlovable When You're Mentally Ill, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 14 from

Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne

May, 16 2018 at 6:44 am

I've been unloved since my adoptive father died when I was 11. TL;DR: I now have complex PTSD due to the emotional abuse and neglect inflicted on me by my adoptive mother over the years. She's an undiagnosed narcissist, and took great pleasure in destroying my life, from convincing the whole family to disown me to making sure my daughter was taken away by the state (I was in the mental hospital at the time, and my "mother" claimed I abandoned my child to go do drugs. I have never, in my life, had a drug problem)
I'll be 40 this summer.
I've been single for over a year, now, and just too afraid to even try to date. Why should I try? Anything I have to "offer" in a relationship is pretty pathetic; I've found that men want either a replacement Mom (with money) or a trophy wife (with money). All I have to offer is little more than you'd get from a dog and maybe your best friend. Not enough money there to make any man pay attention.
Worse, I'm mixed, which means that I'm lambasted for not dating minority men (no interest, no attraction), and fetishised by the guys I'd actually date. I've even had people suggest to me that I "go gay", which is the stupidest thing I've ever heard; it's not 'going green', you're either into the same sex or you aren't. And I am NOT interested in women.
So I'm resigned to eventually dying alone, I guess; my daughter doesn't know me or even contact me (she'll be 12 this year), I have maybe two friends who actually make an effort to stay in touch with me, but one of them is getting married later this year, so I'll be down to ONE friend.
Honestly, I'd get up and try to make changes to my life if I thought there was any hope that I could attract a decent guy. But given my age and what I'd need to make myself interesting to these men (advanced degree, job security, thousands of dollars in savings, family connection, a vibrant social life, photos from my worldly travels, etc), combined with the shrinking pool of worthwhile men at 40, and I realise there just isn't enough time left.
Suicide looks like the only option within the next 10 yrs.

September, 22 2018 at 5:03 pm

Please contact me. @2meta4yall on twitter. I can't fix shit but you're relatable to me. Please don't give up

January, 4 2018 at 7:42 pm

When I was a young man - early 20s - a female colleague asked what was wrong with me when she learned I had been single for nearly 4 years. That conversation has played in my mind for nearly 20 years on an endless loop. Yes, she was being sardonic, flirting in her own way, regardless i've never forgotten those words. A Bipolar II diagnosis characterized by intense depression, sporadic but long bouts of hypomania, hypersexuality, and BPD followed suicidal ideation and attempts which resulted in a TBI and multiple hospitalizations almist exclusively brought about by broken relationships -- seriously there have been only 4 real 'girlfriends' in my 40 years. I have well above average intelligence, when unmedicated. When medicated I am unable to work, to even think -- and in the 16 years since my diagnosis I have tried nearly every available treatment shy of a labotomy -- to include ECT.
Yes, some of us are unlovable. I realized this when the last woman I was talking to told me that she was undatable. She is amazing, and we were seemingly perfectly matched in so many ways. But my personality wears on everyone I interact with. I have come to think of it as having a perishable I have noticed that the bulk of my friendships fail to extend beyond 3-4 years.
I don't intend to be generally negative, but I'm unable to maintain consistent employment because I have to revert to medication to treat the bipolar symptoms. I've watched literally every friend (romantic and otherwise) move on without me, and not look back.
To me, unlovable isn't in the context that no one can love me, because some have in the past...but no one will ever be in love with me because I am incapable of being happy in this life. I abandoned the thought of finding someone to grow old with when my former fiance and my 2 year old autistic son's mother (who always claimed to want to be a family more than anything) married a man nearly 20 years her senior a mere 2 months after our 4 year relationship ended.
It saddens me to know that at 40 years old, i have had my last kiss, I know that I will grow old alone in misery -- but not self pity, because I know I am a good man who cares deeply, but i cannot survive another heartbreak. Suicide is not an option as my life insurance policies won't pay under that circumstance. I wish the doctors had failed to revive me 13 years ago after I was clinically dead for nearly 5 minutes. Everyone I know would be better off today to have never interacted with me. So yes, it is possible to be unlovable.

August, 7 2017 at 9:51 am

I can totally relate. Not only can I say I'm not loved, I can say that I've heard more times than not, that I've chosen depression as an excuse to avoid my family. I've heard "snap out of it", and how there are so many people with REAL illnesses that I should be grateful I'm not REALLY ill, and that there's no excuse for my laziness when I say I just can't do things I have to do, including eating, cleaning, etc. The list goes on forever. I've been divorced after a toxic 18 year marriage where my narcissistic ex spouse psychologically abused me for years before a great counselor helped me piece that together. A man who swore he loved me and would never leave me, suddenly couldn't and wouldn't make any sacrifices for me when I could no longer work and our way of living was tremendously affected. He simply could not live that way and refused to give up his fun and weekends away (without me eventually), that I forced him to go on because it was so awful being in the same room with someone who asked my grown daughter from my first marriage if she believed I was unstable in front of my face like I wasn't even there. She told him then that she believed I was stable. I can't say that any longer because his brainwashing over time has caused her to abandon me as well. My daughter and three granddaughters were my life. My daughter was my ROCK. We were closer than close and then one day I was told so many things that left me speechless and not given a chance to defend myself. When told she'd always love me because I'm her mother, it HIT ME HARD! We'd spoken of such a thing before regarding my own mother. A controlling narcissistic mother herself, who never had a nice word to say about anyone. I don't love my mother. She's hurt me more than I can say. I've tried talking to her many times over the years only to leave disgusted and would have been better off talking to a wall. We know walls don't listen. My daughter and I were like best friends but with the mother daughter relationship as well. She respected me. I did her. Not a day went by that we didn't talk or text and always ended with an "I love you". Always. Now I'm not loved, but only as what she believes because I'm her mother by birth. I told her then nobody has to love anyone because they've given you life. Nobody asks to be born and no one is required to love someone simply for that reason. So there. I'm unloved, unlovable, and I ache day and night 24/7 for my daughters love. My emotions are all over the place. You can't fix that kind of broken with a pill or counseling. I've tried and still do take medications for depression, anxiety, and to block nightmares from the traumatic events that only a handful of friends know happened during and after my 2 year drawn out divorce that I've been blamed for by my ex. There's nothing that hasn't been tacked onto me on top of all the labels I've been given.
Yes I'm not loved, other than my dog, thank GOD for her, but I am lovable if anyone would give me a chance and vice versa to know who I am and who I've always been but better now from all this pain. I'm grateful that I know I'm an even more compassionate, empathetic person than ever, to where it's almost to the extreme of what I'd try to do to help anyone who might be going through anything like this or other. Few people know how to really listen, let alone to hear what someone is saying. I'm grateful for the few people I'm lucky to know who do that.

August, 1 2017 at 4:37 pm

I'm unlovable. I have a couple autoimmune diseases, depression, anxiety, obese. Who in their right mind would want that mess? It is true, people can be unlovable.

Mary Bazil
July, 10 2017 at 4:00 pm

No, one calls me . No one invites me.

Broken Angel
September, 22 2016 at 3:48 pm

I have a good home and good gradea...I am told i am loved by my parents but i don't think I'm loved as much as my younger sibling. I never had a boyfriend and I'm 17...if i even look at a guy or i think they may be flirting my brain automatically goes " he would never lile you, you're too ugly to be liked"

August, 16 2016 at 7:44 am

It may not be mental illness. It may be getting screwed over by life. Telling people on top of everything that they are mentally ill and a pill will fix everything may not make anything better but worse.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

August, 19 2020 at 8:38 pm

There's a psychologist who believes some mental illness may be brought on by the complexities of life. When one thing kind of piles onto another, it's like blowing more and more air into a balloon. At some point, that balloon is going to blow out at it's weakest place.
Sometimes, it's hard because people want to get the message out that mental illness is real and treatable. But, this leads other people to believe that everyone can and should get better quickly by taking a pill. This can result in people feeling justified in their mistreatment of others who are struggling. Pills may help some things, but that doesn't mean everything is a quick fix or that there will never again be setbacks in life. I've had to learn that I can learn healthier patterns to make myself feel better, but my version of healthy may not make me "normal" to someone else.

April, 9 2016 at 1:17 am

We are all loveable. First of all God loves us. He just created us so that ordinary people can't love us. Such as our parents or family or partners. But there are some great people that loves us. Remember all stages of life and you will find some childhood friend who loved you, some teacher, some trainer, some neighbours, and ALL CHILDREN.
Belive me, all children love us.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Inevitable Future Suicide
February, 18 2022 at 6:33 pm

Would you wish on your children an illness that can't be cured, will forever make their daily lives a daunting struggle, potentially preventing them from achieving their dreams or any happiness? No! Anyone with that mentality would be guilty of abuse! Why is God the only one that can do horrible things to people and just have it brushed off as "he knows best" when a real physical person can have their entire lives destroyed for the littlest societal offense?
I'm truly sorry if this bursts anyone's bubble, but God does not love everyone. Why else do some live in complete excess while others die in the gutter with nothing? Why do rich celebrities get slapped on the wrist for crimes that a poor loser like me would get a decade in prison for? Begging and pleading every night for some little miracle, anything, to help me find some semblance of happiness in life only to see failed treatment after failed treatment for years on end has proven to me that God either does not love me or does not exist. Why don't you go to YouTube and search "Billy Butcher on God." He may be a fictional character, but he has "God" figured out to a T.

December, 14 2015 at 9:08 am

Wow I love this site! I am so not alone. I've struggled off and on with feeling unlovable and as years pass I find when I am not involved with anyone and living single I do so much better. I get lonely for a partner to share my life with however I don't not live. I never feel unlovable until I try to allow someone to love me and then I go from outgoing, active, full of more confidence than I need, successful at most anything I try to do, not afraid of anything, definite achiever to the very opposite of all I just wrote. I fall in love and o fall in fear. Then starts the worry of when how and what terrible things this person trying to love me will actually do to me as I now feel vulnerable to any bad thing they may or may not chose to do to me. And before you know it my imagination is running wild with all the possibilities of betrayal that could happen. I will bring about a breakup even though I'm trying not to. Why is this? How can I be all that I know I am when single and then revert to a crying begging I can't loose you person with no disregard at all for myself. Single I will take on King Kong and win! In a romantic relationship I throw myself under his big fat foot to get my certain demise over quickly. Why can I not maintain my peace contentment and appreciation for my life while in a relationship. Been married 4 times. Still in the forth one but he already moved out and is moving on without me. Of course I yelled I cried I cursed and just swore he was doing things behind my back. Since he left I clearly see he wasn't. He tried to love me and I wouldn't let him but you could not convince of this until after he left. What's up with that! I know I can make it alone and eventualy be happy again but I want what I saw growing up. My dad! My mothers illnesses yes plural attempts to stop the voices in her and almost did along with years of instability not knowing when she'd go manic again was hard on us all. I sorta have it too. But my Dad stayed. He never considered leaving her. He loved her and she eventually after years of lots of trials and errors began recovery and did. Those two people are more in love at age 70 and 66 than any other couple I know. They almost exsist as one. But I haven't met anyone like Dad and I can't let any man love me. I know I've missed out because of this and I just want to be normal and in love at the same time. I'm 49 two wonderful grown up sons who are out living thier own lives while I once again have begun the recovery of another sabotaged marriage. Anybody else still trying or need I drop the hope of growing old with anyone accept my cat?

lost soul
December, 14 2015 at 1:57 am

@beverly, first, even if you were disfigured in the accident, a persons true beauty is within. externally its only superficial beauty. your husband is an abusive waste of oxygen and you should immediately get him out of your life. i bet you are not fat or ugly. he just says that to you because he needs to make you lose your confidence, because he knows that if you are confident, you are able to leave the scumbag and find a real man. i wish you well

lost soul
December, 14 2015 at 1:50 am

@Mel, why do you tolerate that? that man needs his [moderated] kicked. by teaching your son to treat you that way, he is teaching him to treat women that way. kick him out and try to save your son

lost soul
December, 14 2015 at 1:24 am

i often feel like i am unlovable, meaning people are not capable of loving me. and when i feel that way and wish i had anyone at all to talk to about it, i realize that being unlovable is probably not that far fetched.

December, 12 2015 at 8:59 pm

I think it is true what you say about feeling unloveable. I was married for many years and my husband told me that he loved me, but I never believed him. I find it difficult to be demonstrative to anyone. The exception to this is my daughter when she was little.
I have self diagnosed borderline personality disorder,, as I fit all the criteria.
When I was younger I just thought that I was very shy and easily hurt.
I remember building walls around myself so that I would not get hurt. I also have always dissociated from a very young age ( anxiety symptom)
All in all, I am very defended, so it is difficult to get close and to make relationships with others- I become dependent and that is a scary feeling.

November, 19 2015 at 1:14 am

I am told constantly by my partner of 19 years I am unlovable and a horrible person. I have no friends or family. It makes me think he is so right. He has said, even after 19 years I will never be his family. We have a 17 year old son. Naturally he agrees with his father. I just exist, that's my lot.

ugly beverly
December, 3 2014 at 6:12 pm

I had a severe wreck last October 15th, 2013. I really did walk away from the scene of a trash truck that hit me head on after running a stop sign. When the police got me out of that car, I turned around and saw myself sitting in the drivers seat. I died that day. My mom passed January 1, 2013. I heard her trying to keep me calm. But I left the "me" in the car that day. It's weird but I did see the real me left in the car. I had a boyfriend of 4 1/2 years but he told me something happened to me that day. I am now fat, ugly as sin, and still bruised and hurting almost 14 mos later. He tells me how nasty I am and fat disgusting. The last straw for him was losing my job October 3, 2014. He said I am too ugly to take anywhere or anyone. NEVER will he touch me because I am so fat, ugly, and not deserving of any kind of love. I hurt my back but am not disfigured on my face. But he told me tonight I am too disgusting to be nice to. He LOVES making me cry. He said I need to hide, I am too ugly to be around humans.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 18 2020 at 10:34 pm

He is very abusive. He would find a reason to abuse anyone. You don't deserve this. Please, if you can, seek out some counseling with someone who understands abusive situations.

June, 15 2014 at 6:40 am

I have people who feel positive ways toward me. I do a lot of volunteering in my community as I can no longer work due to a combination of my mental illnesses and physical disability.
People have recognized my talents and feel admiration for them and that is a wonderful feeling. However there are very few people in my life who are close enough to me who could ever be in the class of loving.
The only person who loves me unconditionally is my mom, and she is unwell. My dad loves me, I know, but I am not sure to what extent. He has disowned me at times over the years when things have gotten bad.
Over the years I have been in long term relationships but they have all ended and I have been the one to suffer. Thus I have decided to stay alone and avoid the humiliation of it all again.
I am the quintessential unlovable. No one can get close enough to me to love me. I have walls that are higher and thicker than anyone can get through. I do that to keep myself safe. Yes, at times it can be lonely, but at least I am not getting hurt over and over like I was before.
To Alain, I am sorry you get put in that position but I'm sure when you stop looking for someone, then someone great will come along and appreciate you for all your great qualities.
To Sherry, You are right. If something happened to me, I'm sure no one would find me for a long time. Many people are very isolated in their mental issues and that needs to change.
To Dawn, That is a hard thing to bear. To feel like a burden is something that weighs heavily on many with mental illness. However you can do something about it. You can help your family and friends in other ways. You can make them gifts they need or suppers and invite them over. You can watch a child if you are capable. You can go places with them and help carry groceries. Even little things can help them in big ways. Helping give back can help you feel less like a burden and help strengthen your bond with them as well.
To John, I saved yours last because it's a hard one. Some women want the "bad boy" but I think it's a phase. I think when they mature and are ready to settle down, women want someone who will be responsible and able to address their needs. BUT they don't like neediness in a man, that shows too much weakness and jealousy. It can become a control issue and lead to other negative things. So I totally agree with you but wanted to explain it out.

June, 14 2014 at 1:12 am

Its not so much that I feel unlovable its that I feel as if I am such a huge burden to everyone in my life therefore I feel unworthy of their love. I am glad you addressed this though. Its so important that we talk about these things. I think part of the feeling of being unloved, feeling like a burden, feeling unworthy of love leads to the isolation so often associated with mental illness. To all my friends here who suffer with mental illness as I do I love you I really do.

June, 13 2014 at 11:04 pm

A widower neighbour was found dead at home after not being seen for 6 weeks. Create chains of solidarity with other singles! Or become a people person...

May, 6 2013 at 4:47 am

Women don't want a bad boy but they also don't want a needy person.

alain smiathee
March, 9 2012 at 3:17 pm

I don't have any answers.
All that I know is that I"m tried ob being the "too nice to date guy friend".
I've been complimented on the way that I treat women, but I still end up banished to the friend zone.
The only solution that I see is to become the "bad boy" that women seem to fall for so that I don't die alone.

Leave a reply