You may describe yourself as complex, intense, or any other number of more flattering adjectives, but are you really just hard to love? It may be hard to admit it, but if any of these things ring true for you, caring about and being close with you are likely a challenge.
- You don’t know how to apologize. People who are hard to love never know how to apologize because they’re stubborn. If you make your special someone feel like they are always in the wrong because you refuse to accept that you’re not always right, you have a problem. As relationship expert Dr. Harriet Lerner tells Forbes: “‘I’m sorry’ are the two most important words in the English language. Without the possibility of restoring trust and mending broken fences the inherently flawed experience of being human would feel impossibly tragic. A good apology is deeply healing while an absent or bad one can compromise and even end a relationship.”
- You never compromise. If you can’t find the middle ground in your relationships, you’re definitely hard to love. It’s incredibly difficult to love someone who never wants to accommodate others or find a way for her partner to be happy too. If you care about someone, shouldn’t you want to meet them halfway?
- You’re unpredictable. This should be obvious but if you’re the type of person that can’t be understood or figured out by those closest to you, it’s not always a good thing. There’s something freeing about being dynamic and a little mysterious, but in relationships, it can make you seem untrustworthy and sketchy. In turn, that makes you hard to love because your partner doesn’t really know who you are or where they stand with you.
- You’re flaky and unreliable. Flaky people are hard to love because you can never depend on them. If your partner, lover, or friend can’t rely on you when they’re in a bind, it puts stress on your relationship and makes it exceptionally challenging for someone to really love you. If you want people to love you, show them that you’re dependable. Show up.
- You hold onto old baggage. If you punish the people who are in your life now for things that happened to you in your past, you’re most definitely hard to love. I understand from experience how difficult it can be to open up to someone and be vulnerable again in a romantic relationship (or even a friendship) after you’ve been burned. However, if you hold onto that negative energy and bring those impressions into your experience with someone new, it’s like you’re asking for it to be hard. It really doesn’t have to be that way.
More signs you’re difficult to love
- You put up emotional walls. As soon as someone gets too close to you, the walls go up. You think that by doing this, you’re avoiding being hurt. “In a relationship, you create emotional barriers to protect yourself from what you’ve experienced in the past (heartbreak, abuse, abandonment),” Yue Xu, host and creator of the Dateable Podcast, tells Bustle. “As you put up more and more barriers after each adversity, you will become disconnected from yourself.” Letting people into your life and your heart is part and parcel of loving someone. You have to know someone emotionally to love them. If you can’t let people in, you can never truly love or be loved.
- You’re self-destructive. If you drink excessively, are incessantly self-deprecating, or engage in self-destructive behaviors, you’re going to be difficult to love. In my experience, the easiest people to love in my life have been people who take care of themselves and show themselves the most love on a consistent basis.
- You’re dishonest. My personal rule of thumb is that being honest is always better than telling a lie, even a small one. I’ve had to grow into this rule and I’ve been better at it in certain situations than others, but the point is that people appreciate honesty. When you lie and someone finds out about it, people retreat from you. Lovable people are the kind of people who attract others with positive traits like honesty and integrity. Work on those qualities and you won’t be hard to love.
- You’re bad at communicating. If you can’t talk and work through disagreements with someone else, you’re probably hard to love. All relationships, whether romantic or platonic, are strongest when communication is at its best between the people involved in the relationship. If you shut down during disagreements or can’t articulate your feelings to another person, it really will strain your relationship and make you hard to love. I’ve been that woman before and it took therapy and self-reflection to find my voice and use it. Find yours.
- You don’t believe you deserve to be loved. I saved this one for last because I think it’s really important. If you’re reading this because you can’t figure out why it’s hard for someone else to love you, I want you to ask yourself if you even believe that you deserve love. “Feeling deserving of love really comes down to our ability to see ourselves as worthy of being loved,” explains relationship expert Jessica Yaffa. “Sometimes the voice between our ears — our negative self-talk — can hinder us from believing that we truly are worthy of love and happiness. In order to change that negative self-talk around deserving to be loved, we must first look at perhaps where some of those ideas of worthiness and love came from.” Talking to a therapist can really help you work through those issues and get to a better place.
How to change your ways and become more loveable
- Learn to be open about your feelings. Whether negative or positive, expressing your emotions will ensure you’re seen as accessible, approachable, and open to other people. They may not like what you have to say, but they’ll love that you felt comfortable enough to say it. “Once you think that your feelings don’t matter, won’t be heard, or are not worth sharing, you open the door to harbor negativity and resentment,” psychotherapist Beth Sonnenberg, LCSW, tells Oprah Daily.
- Be more proactive and take responsibility for yourself and your relationships. If you struggle to apologize and always cast blame for issues on everyone but yourself, it’s time for a change. If you notice there’s an issue in your relationships, ask yourself what you can do to fix it instead of resting the responsibility on someone else’s shoulders. “Focusing on the issue rather than blame can allow for more effective problem solving and a team-based approach,” advises clinical psychologist Joseph Cilona, Psy.D.
- Show the people you love that you love them. You don’t have to be a wordsmith in order to let the people in your life know that you care about them. You can do this just as easily (and even better!) with words. As author and psychotherapist Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D. points out: “The act of showing matters, because we don’t say those three little words as often as we should.” Do little things to make the people you care about smile and to make their lives a little bit brighter. “A random act of kindness doesn’t take much, but it can make a big difference.” There’s nothing hard to love about that.
- Shut down the selfishness. While it’s important to ensure that you’re looking after yourself, it’s just as important to realize that the world – and your partner’s world in particular – doesn’t revolve around you and that they have needs too. “Loving relationships are a process by which we get our needs met and meet the needs of our partners too,” says Jeremy Nicholson, MSW, Ph.D., psychologist and dating expert. “When that exchange is mutually satisfying, then good feelings continue to flow. When it is not, then things turn sour, and the relationship ends.”
- Learn to love yourself. If you find that you’re hard to love, it’s likely because you haven’t developed a sense of self-love. That can be difficult to do and may even prove impossible to achieve on your own. In that case, there’s no shame in working with a therapist to figure out the root of your issues and help you overcome them. You’re strong, smart, and so worthy of love. The more you embrace that idea and give that love to yourself, the easier it will be or others to do the same.