Unrequited family love happens a lot. We hear a lot of stories about people who feel they’re being destroyed by loved ones who just…don’t act loving. What is that about? When people you love make you feel horrible, it’s hard to believe, and almost impossible to accept, that they’re just not into you. In fact, they may not love you at all. When do you know that what your gut tells you is true?

Unrequited Family Love Hurts In So Many Ways

It’s confusing. Loved ones may say they may want you around for a lot of reasons. They may want you for the façade of happy family, or happy marriage. They may believe (or know) you give good presents or money when they need it. But if you feel bad whenever you speak to them, or when they put you off or ignore you, they’re sending you a message. “I just don’t care about you.” Believe it.

These six red flags show you are anything but loved:

Denying There’s Anything Wrong

You’re not included. Your loved one has better things to do when you come to town. He/she stands you up. You can’t get him/her on the phone. You feel horrible and ask what’s going on. Your loved one says it’s all in your head, “You jealous freak, you.”

Not Listening To Anything You Say

You’re always wrong. When you disagree with a loved one and he/she lawyers you to death, it’s demoralizing. You’re battered with a dozen reasons you’re wrong. You may feel you don’t exist. And for your loved one, you don’t. There is no way you will ever win an argument or be right about anything.

Triangulating Against You

Your loved one enlists others, your friends or family, into taking sides against you by telling bad things about you. Ganging up at any age makes you into the bad guy that deserves shunning or shaming.

Keeping Secrets

There’s a lot you’re excluded from. Your loved one doesn’t want you to know what’s going on in his/her life, or hides other important facts from you. You make mistakes based on incorrect information. You feel you’re in the dark, and you are.


Your loved one denies things he/she did, or lies about things you actually know the truth about. Gaslighting constantly puts you on shifting ground so that you never know what’s real. Gaslighting is intended to control and drive you crazy.

Blaming and Shaming

You’re blamed for everything–from tiny things that aren’t perfect–to everything that’s gone wrong in the family, friendship, marriage and every relationship since the beginning of time. You’re also reminded of every mistake and humiliating thing you ever did.

Unrequited Love May Be Insensitivity

Sometimes people are not aware they hurt you and can be taught to be more sensitive. If they love you, they will listen to your concerns, apologize and make adjustments. When they won’t listen, make excuses, or blame you for having legitimate feelings, however, they know exactly what they’re doing. They won’t change, and you need to find new, and trustworthy, people to love.

One note from a reader is to remind people that where mental illness plays a part in your feeling unloved or abandoned, it may be that loved ones may be suffering too much pain themselves to be able to express positive feelings for others.

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Leslie Glass

Leslie Glass became a recovery advocate and co-founder of Reach Out Recovery in 2011, encouraged by her daughter Lindsey who had struggled with substances as a teen and young adult. Learning how to manage the family disease of addiction with no roadmap to follow inspired the mother and daughter to create Reach Out Recovery's website to help others experiencing the same life-threatening problems. Together they produced the the 2016 ASAM Media Award winning documentary, The Secret World of Recovery, and the teen prevention documentary, The Silent Majority, distributed by American Public Television. Leslie is also the creator of Recovery Guidance, the information website for those seeking addiction and mental healthcare for professionals nationwide. In her career, Leslie has worked in advertising, publishing, and magazines as a writer of both fiction and non fiction. She is the author of 9 bestselling crime novels, featuring NYPD Dt.Sgt. April Woo. Leslie has has served as a Public Member of the Middle States Commission of Higher Education and as a Trustee of the New York City Police Foundation. For from 1990 to 2017, Leslie was the Trustee of the Leslie Glass Foundation.

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