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I Want to Be Loved: The Psychology & 22 Secrets to Find that Missing Piece

Are you stuck between saying, “I want to be loved,” and feeling forever alone? Here’s your guide to sort out your feelings and receive the love you deserve.

I want to be loved

Imagine you’re at a cozy coffee shop, your favorite latte artfully presented in front of you, and you can’t help but overhear the couple next to you exchanging sweet nothings. It’s a Hallmark moment for sure, but all it does is amplify your thought: “I want to be loved.” Why does that desire feel so urgent, so vital to our being?

And what about that nagging fear lurking in the shadows, whispering that you’re destined to be ‘forever alone’?

In this feature, we’ll pull back the curtain on the deep-seated psychological factors that fuel our quest for love and offer ways to confront and quash the ‘forever alone’ syndrome. [Read: What does it mean to love someone? 21 good & bad ways to define it]

The psychology of wanting to be loved

Who among us hasn’t felt that deep-seated wish, the simple yet profound thought, “I want to be loved”? It feels as essential as air. But why is that?

1. Attachment theory *John Bowlby, you’re a legend!*

Ah, your first high school crush. Remember the thrill of sneaking glances at them across the classroom? This isn’t just youthful folly, it’s the early shaping of your adult approach to love.

John Bowlby would say you were creating your own “attachment style,” a blueprint that informs how you give and receive love as you grow older.

2. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Life’s essentials are covered: you have food, shelter, and yes, even that crucial Netflix subscription. But something’s missing, right?

Maslow knew what was up. He placed love smack dab in the middle of his hierarchy of needs, above physical necessities but below self-fulfillment. It’s not a luxury—it’s a fundamental part of being human.

3. Oxytocin and dopamine – the love chemicals

That intoxicating rush when you’re cuddled up with someone special? It’s like your body’s throwing its own little party, and the guests of honor are oxytocin and dopamine.

These neurotransmitters flood your system, acting as nature’s way of saying, “Yes, more of this, please!”

4. The concept of ‘mattering’

You’ve knocked a presentation out of the park, but your boss doesn’t even give you a nod. It stings, doesn’t it? Now, amplify that feeling tenfold when it comes to love.

Feeling like you “matter” to someone isn’t just emotional fluff, it’s psychological gold. Being valued and acknowledged by a loved one is a cornerstone of emotional well-being. [Read: Feeling unloved – 51 ways we feel less loved & how to feel love again]

Why ‘forever alone’ might be more than just a meme

If you’ve ever sighed, “I want to be loved,” while scrolling past Instagram-perfect couples, you’ve probably also had that follow-up thought: “Am I going to be forever alone?”

The meme-worthy phrase might be more than just internet lingo. Here’s why. [Read: 52 signs you’re meant to be forever alone and single & you like it that way!]

1. Cognitive distortions

We’ve all had those moments, especially late at night, where one small worry spirals into a full-blown crisis. You think one missed text means nobody loves you, and before you know it, you’re envisioning a future populated solely by you and your houseplants.

This is classic “all-or-nothing” thinking and “catastrophizing,” cognitive distortions that can distort your view of your love life.

2. Social comparison theory

There you are, phone in hand, scrolling through images of couples looking like they’ve stepped out of a romance novel. But remember, even though it seems like everyone else has their love life sorted, what you’re seeing is a highlight reel, not a blooper reel.

Social media’s role in amplifying these highlight reels can make anyone feel like they’re falling behind in the love department, thanks to our innate tendency for social comparison.

3. Attachment styles *yes, again*

Ever notice that some people seem to jump from relationship to relationship, while others are perpetually single despite their best efforts? This could be down to your attachment style.

Whether your style is anxious or avoidant, it influences how you perceive and maintain romantic connections. Understanding your own style might be the key to shaking off that ‘forever alone’ feeling. [Read: Attachment styles theory – 4 types and 19 signs & ways you attach to others]

4. You just went through a breakup

It’s normal to feel a little emotionally bruised when coming out of a relationship. You may even find you feel like you’ll never find love again, especially if it was a bad breakup.

If you’ve just been through a situation where one person stopped feeling the same way about you, you may feel as though everyone in your life stopped loving you.

It makes you desperate enough to say something like, “I just want to be loved.” This isn’t the truth.

Give yourself time to heal and get over the heightened emotions that a breakup sends your way. After a little time has passed, you’ll start to see things more clearly and realize that you deserve romance and affection in your life, and that when you’re ready, you’ll find it.

5. You don’t have anyone that’s really close to you

If you don’t have strong friendships in your life, you could be feeling unloved.

There’s a certain feeling of being really connected with someone in a close manner, even if it’s just friendship, that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

If you don’t feel this, it could be because you haven’t found that friend you can open up to. You may not have anyone to be intimate with in an emotional way. That could make you feel like you’re missing something in your life.

6. You’re spending too much time with unloving people

Are you surrounding yourself with people who care about you and are actually vocal about that, or do you spend your time with those who aren’t very kind and loving toward you?

The people you spend the majority of your time with have the ability to shape the way you feel about yourself.

If you’re spending time with the wrong people you feel less than loved. It keeps you craving that love. [Read: 28 lonely truths about feeling alone in a relationship & how to fix it ASAP]

7. You’re jealous of someone else’s love

If all you do is pay attention to the way someone else is receiving love, it’s going to make you think you don’t have “proper” love.

You may be obsessed with a certain couple on social media, and it blinds you to the love you actually receive. This makes you feel like you just want to be loved, even though you are.

Recognize the fact that you never truly know what is going on behind closed doors. Social media is very good at making you believe one thing, when the truth is usually quite different. Nobody’s relationship is perfect and everyone feels unloved sometimes.

8. Existential loneliness

Now, what if you’ve tried everything—dating apps, set-ups by well-meaning friends, even reading self-help books—and you still feel an unshakable loneliness? Sometimes, it’s not just about not getting DMs or date invites.

Existential loneliness goes deeper, prompting us to question our very place and purpose in a seemingly indifferent universe. [Read: How to be happy alone & 20 reasons why relationships are overrated]

Tips to overcome the forever alone mindset

Alright, if you’ve made it this far, you’re probably wondering, “Okay, great, but how do I stop feeling like I’m going to be forever alone?” No worries— We’ve got your back! Let’s turn that mindset around.

1. Retrain your brain

Have you ever had that little voice in your head say, “No one’s going to love me”? Time to show it the exit door.

Cognitive behavioral techniques are like mental gymnastics that help you flip your thoughts from self-defeating to self-enhancing.

2. Learn to love better

Do you know what’s amazing? You’re not set in stone, and neither are your love skills. Carol Dweck would applaud you for adopting a growth mindset, reminding you that love, like any other skill, can be honed and improved.

3. Live in the now

Worried about dying alone and haven’t even hit 30 yet? Take a breather.

Mindfulness isn’t just for yoga enthusiasts, it’s about appreciating the love that’s already around you—yes, even from your quirky Aunt Susan who always likes your Facebook posts. [Read: 32 secrets to be present & live in the moment when life is speeding past you]

4. Be picky, it’s okay

No, you don’t have to say yes to every Tom, Dick, or Harry who swipes right on you. Setting boundaries is about understanding your worth and knowing you don’t want to be with just anyone. Because let’s be real, you’re a catch!

5. Expand your social circle

It’s like your mom used to say: “There’s plenty of fish in the sea.” *Okay, maybe she was talking about dinner options, but the point stands!*

By meeting new people—not necessarily potential partners—you open yourself up to different kinds of love and connections, broadening your emotional horizon.

6. Go easy on yourself

You know those rom-com montages where the protagonist transforms their life in the span of one upbeat song? Yeah, that’s not real life.

Progress is messy and slow, so don’t beat yourself up for not having it all figured out yet. [Read: 42 secrets to be happy being single & alone and lessons it can teach you]

7. Validate yourself first

Waiting for someone to sweep you off your feet and validate your existence? Plot twist: you can do that for yourself!

Self-validation is empowering, and guess what? Confidence is attractive. So go ahead, be your own biggest fan!

8. Seek professional help, if needed

Sometimes the mountain seems too high to climb alone, and that’s okay. Therapists and relationship counselors are like the sherpas of emotional Everest.

They’re trained to guide you through your journey, helping you avoid pitfalls and reach new heights.

9. Your love story is unwritten

You know that pressure to have your whole life, including your romantic destiny, figured out? Let’s just chuck it out the window.

Borrowing from narrative therapy, remember your life is a book still being written. You’re the author, and you don’t have to rush through to the ‘happily ever after.’ The best chapters might still be ahead!

10. Start with the person in the mirror

Before you can truly fall head over heels for someone else, you’ve got to be smitten with numero uno—that’s you!

The concept of self-love isn’t just a feel-good Instagram quote, it’s the bedrock of any successful love story. When you appreciate yourself, flaws and all, you set the tone for how others should value you.

Yes, you will be loved

The quest for love can sometimes feel like a never-ending rollercoaster—ups, downs, and the occasional queasy feeling. But let’s get real for a second. Being lonely is not your destiny, it’s merely a state of mind.

The only person who can make you feel forever alone is yourself. So, if you find yourself whispering into the universe, “I want to be loved,” let us be the ones to shout back, “Yes, you are—and yes, you will be.”

[Read: Love yourself first – where people go wrong, 36 whys & how to do this right]

Learning to love others starts with learning to love yourself. If you feel like you’ll be forever alone, be patient. Show yourself kindness and reason with all of the stressors in your life that are making you feel alone.

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Preeti Tewari Serai
Preeti Serai
Preeti, the founder of LovePanky, is an eternal optimist and believer in the beauty of love and life. With an exhaustive experience in love, relationships, and ...