A Deeper Understanding of Love

Love is an illusion in the sense that it seems like something we give and receive. It seems like something we need to survive. And in some ways, it is.

Where Love Starts

We need love in the sense of belonging, literally as children, to get our most basic needs met. It is crucial for our physical development at that time that we have an adult to provide us with food and shelter, and if we are lucky, some sense of emotional support.

We are biologically wired to adopt whatever beliefs those who can provide food and shelter for us. To ensure our physical survival even if they are not very healthy or loving towards us.

As we get older, we become more self-sufficient. We are able to safely question the environment in which we were raised. In some cases, the pain of discovering we did not receive the love we “needed” may lead us to make it our life’s mission (knowingly or unknowingly) to fill the hole of that grief.

RELATED GOODTHERAPY ARTICLE: Love, Relationships, Aces, and Aros

GoodTherapy | Finding Love

Where the Need For Love Leads Us

The undercurrent of our subconscious may constantly be asking: How can I get love? Where can I find love? How can I prove I am loveable?

On the one hand, the need to experience love and belonging remains. Our lives are interwoven, and we are interdependent within the structure of our society.

The overfocus on this need to belong, however, can become emotional, and sometimes even physical. If we have not learned how to draw and respect healthy boundaries around what we are willing to exchange for “love”, it becomes problematic.

Instead of going inward to touch our deepest selves, we look outside of ourselves for confirmation that we are worthy. We look for people to tell us we are good, loveable, and deserving of connection. We want something to disprove the pain we hold about not having that message clearly and undoubtedly embedded in us.

Sometimes because of challenges with caregivers, and other times because of experiences of other kinds of loss or pain that we were not equipped to handle as children, we try to get the outside world to fill that perceived need.

But we were worthy the whole entire time. Our parents’ shortcomings had nothing to do with us, just as our shortcomings have nothing to do with our children.


GoodTherapy | Love Attachment

What Type of Attachment is Healthy?

Insecure Attachment

Data suggests about 40% of Americans have what is considered “insecure attachment” resulting from the perception or reality of lacking the kind of ideal healthy bond with an adult.

Some of the results of this inner struggle may look like an obsessive need to:

  • Please or be liked.
  • Over-explain or over-justify our actions.
  • Avoid intimacy.
  • Have a lot of “enemies”.
  • Feel hurt when someone honors their own needs instead of putting yours first.

In some more extreme cases, it could look like controlling or manipulating another person or staying in relationships where abuse is happening because of “love” or trauma bonding.

Healthy Attachment

Healthy attachment is kind of like learning a foreign language. It is much easier as a child but by no means impossible as an adult.

Unlike learning a second language, you may not receive the increased sense of outside accolades for your achievement. But, if you know what your challenges have been, the inner knowing of your resilience can be its own reward. And your relationships will likely improve dramatically when you take ownership over your own healing no matter how unfair it may feel to have to work through it.

We may, unintentionally, not only cause ourselves suffering, but also project our unmet needs onto others as something they are meant to fulfill for us. We could unknowingly, be tasking another person to prove our worthiness to us which is codependent in an unhealthy way.

Even though it is not our fault that we ended up with this struggle, it is still our responsibility to work through it.

RELATED GOODTHERAPY ARTICLE: From Captivation to Commitment: 5 Phases of Love Over Time

GoodTherapy | Love Yourself

Learn to Love Yourself

These concepts are relatively easy to understand intellectually, but teaching the body, mind, and nervous system that we can cultivate a love within ourselves that cannot be taken away is a total game changer.

It allows us to experience a deeper meaning of love that creates greater stability within us and provides for our most authentic expression of self to shine through.

As we learn to let go of subconscious conditioning, we rebuild our lives and ways of connecting with others without the constraints of what we thought to be true about our worthiness. We better tend to the foundation of our internal world.

We gain trust in our newfound wisdom. We witness our strength and resiliency and the love that was already within. We become more peaceful inside and naturally feel the pull to live more authentically and freely on the outside.

Who are we when we realize we have all of the love we need inside ourselves already? How does our ability to love others without such a tight grip on them is exactly what we want them to change? We can still experience loving connection and belonging while being sovereign and accepting love as a state of being already whole within us. Our relationships may deepen in ways we never knew possible.

For the L.O.V.E.

Here’s an acronym that may help folks on this sacred journey back to the love within:

L– Let the tower of familial, environmental, societal, and even self-conditioning fall. Choose to rebuild your ideas of love and connection with what makes sense with the level of insight you carry now.


O– Own your ability to have some authority over your emotional and spiritual development in a self-compassionate way. Someone else could be experiencing something like what you are and see it completely differently. That’s good news. We can shift and change. But the brain’s learning centers shut down when we are in spaces of shame, so commit to addressing it from a place of natural gentleness with yourself.


V– Vow to stay on a path of personal evolution and choose to interact with others on a similar approach so you can gain experience supporting each other in healthier ways. A fatty substance called myelin coats neuropathways that are used frequently and allow the brain to think more automatically that way which means we get better at whatever we practice.


E-Everyone has a history we aren’t fully aware of because they may not even be fully aware. Please do your best to draw healthy boundaries where needed but also remember that how people treat us is not usually as personal as it feels. They may be acting from their own insecurities around lovableness, and we may be perceiving from ours.

The GoodTherapy Registry might be helpful to you. We have thousands of Therapists listed with us who would love to walk with you on your journey. You can find the Support you need today.

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The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Gina

    June 17th, 2023 at 6:10 PM

    Hi I’m writing about the? My partner doesn’t like to be touched. We have been engaged for over 2 years together for 3 1/2. My partner was raised in a house that shows no physical love at all. We used to have a great sex life not so much anymore. Even then he didn’t like to be touched. I can reach for his hand, go for a hug and he may give a quick touch then pulls away. We have talked about this he always says that is how I was raised I’ve explained I/we need the physical closeness. He is a great guy treats me wonderful, I just feel we are growing farther apart. Please HELP.


  • Charlotte

    June 20th, 2023 at 12:38 PM

    Dear Gina, thank you for commenting on our blog. Sometimes it helps to talk to someone regarding issues such as these. If you would like to consult with a mental health professional, you can start finding therapists in your area by entering your city or ZIP code into the search field on this page: https://www.goodtherapy.org/find-therapist.html. Once you enter your information, you’ll be directed to a list of therapists and counselors who meet your criteria. You may click to view our members’ full profiles and contact the therapists themselves for more information. You are welcome to call us for personal assistance in finding a therapist. We are in the office Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Mountain Time, and our phone number is 888-563-2112 ext 3. Kind regards, The GoodTherapy Team

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