Dear Bear: Will I ever be loved unconditionally?
Joan Mitchell, Untitled, 1979
I've always wanted the people that I've dated more than they want me. I get easily jealous and insecure in relationships, all the while trying to adapt to my partner's needs. It seems to me that my ex-partners have never reciprocated. They would explicitly tell me that our relationship hasn't changed their way of viewing the world, and they've never expressed jealousy; they barely even tell me that they miss me when I'm away. I've felt very disposable and unwanted in their lives during the relationships, and that feeling is only exacerbated when either 1) they break up with me or, 2) they refuse to look back on the relationship after our mutual breakup. I've never had any messy hookups with my exes after the breakups because they would reject me. I feel relatively much more confident in friendships and in my career because I've received enough external validation to have internalized the positive feedback and justify my self-worth. Somehow, I've never been able to find that in romantic relationships. I know that it's likely I just haven't met the right person or people yet who can love me in the way that I need, but a part of me is still fearful. What if I never get the unconditional love that I want from a partner?