8 traits of people who simply don’t know how to love

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Ever felt like you’re pouring your heart into a relationship, only to find the love you’re giving isn’t being returned? 

I’ve been there, feeling like a love detective, piecing together clues, trying to make sense of it all. 

The harsh truth I eventually faced is that some people simply don’t know how to love. They may want to, but their actions, behaviors, and particularly their traits reveal otherwise. 

In this article, let’s delve into the 8 traits that are tell-tale signs someone just isn’t equipped to give love the way you deserve. This is your guide to avoid another emotional one-way street.

1) Narcissism

Ever dated someone who made you feel like a supporting character in the movie of their life? I sure have. They’re charming, magnetic, and incredibly self-absorbed

No matter what kind of conversation we were having, even if he was trying to get to know me, it’s like it always had to revolve around him. 

See, narcissists are often trapped in their own world, viewing love as something to be extracted rather than reciprocated. 

They might shower you with attention initially, but remember, it’s not about you — it’s about how you make them look or feel.

When the going gets tough in the relationship, they rarely take the time to understand your emotional needs. It’s always about them, how they’ve been wronged, or why their issues are more significant. 

If you find yourself in a relationship where emotional give-and-take feels more like emotional robbery, chances are you’re dealing with a narcissist

And let me tell you, no amount of love can fill the emotional void that resides in such individuals. They may say they love you, but their actions consistently scream, “I love me more.”

2) Pessimism

We all have down days, right? But what happens when your partner’s default setting seems to be a cloud of negativity? 

When I was with someone like this, it felt like walking through life with an anchor tied to my feet.

Imagine sharing your dreams, your hopes for the future, and all you get in return are reasons why it won’t work. 

Over time, their constant pessimism starts to eat away at the edges of your dreams, making them seem out of reach.

You see, love is supposed to be a team effort, where you both lift each other higher. But a pessimist often acts like a roadblock on your journey to happiness. 

Their negativity isn’t just limited to their world; it seeps into yours, turning your vibrant colors to shades of gray.

Love isn’t just about weathering life’s storms together — it’s also about basking in each other’s sunlight. 

When you’re with someone who can’t see the sunshine even on the brightest days, it becomes a challenge to feel truly loved and supported. 

3) Insecurity

Insecurity is like that crack in the foundation of a house that seems small but undermines the whole structure over time. In a relationship, it shows up in the most unexpected ways. 

I once dated someone whose insecurities seemed innocent at first — little moments where they needed affirmation or seemed overly sensitive. At first, it felt like a chance for me to be a supportive partner. 

But here’s the thing: insecurity doesn’t stop at asking for constant reassurance. It grows into jealousy, suspicion, and the kind of clinginess that makes you feel suffocated. 

You go from being their love interest to becoming their emotional crutch.

And let’s not forget how insecurity turns into projection. Suddenly, you’re being accused of the very things they’re actually guilty of — like flirting or not being fully invested in the relationship

It’s as if they’re transferring their internal fears onto you, turning the relationship into an emotional minefield. 

If love is making you feel more like a tightrope walker than a cherished partner, it’s a sign that insecurity is undermining the love that could be there.

4) Impulsivity

Ah, the thrill of spontaneity — sometimes it’s the spice that keeps a relationship interesting. But there’s a fine line between being spontaneous and being impulsive. 

I once loved someone whose impulsivity seemed exciting in the beginning. It was a whirlwind romance full of unplanned trips and last-minute dates.

But as the days turned into weeks and weeks into months, the flip side of their impulsivity began to show. 

Decisions that impacted both of us were made in the blink of an eye, without any discussion or consideration. Money was spent, commitments were canceled, and promises were broken — all on a whim.

Impulsivity in love isn’t just about unpredictability; it’s a disregard for consequences that can put a relationship at risk. 

You start to feel like you’re not a part of a partnership but rather a spectator in their one-person show. 

And trust becomes fragile when the person you love acts without thinking, leaving you to clean up the mess. 

Love is a shared journey, not a roller coaster ride where one person dictates all the twists and turns.

5) Detachment

You know that empty feeling when you’re sitting right next to someone, and yet it feels like they’re miles away? That’s what it’s like to love a detached person. 

You laugh, you talk, and you might even dream about the future together, but something’s off. It’s like a wall exists, keeping their emotions locked away, safe from the perils of true intimacy.

This person always seems to hold back a part of themselves, making deep conversations and emotional intimacy elusive dreams rather than lived experiences. 

This emotional gap can leave you starving for a closeness that never comes. You’re left questioning your own worth, wondering why you can’t break through that invisible wall. 

And the reality is, you can’t sustain love on superficial interactions alone. 

If your heart is constantly reaching for something more, only to grasp at shadows, then you’re entangled with someone who doesn’t know how to love completely. 

6) Mistrustfulness

Loving someone who is inherently mistrustful feels like living under a constant spotlight of skepticism. 

Each word you say, every gesture you make, is dissected for hidden agendas. The absence of trust is palpable, overshadowing even the happiest moments with a sense of looming doubt.

No matter how much you prove your love or commitment, it never seems to be enough. You might find them checking your phone, questioning your friendships, or doubting your intentions. 

This environment not only strains the relationship but also wears down your self-esteem as you start second-guessing your own actions.

The painful irony is that their mistrust often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

The endless cycle of suspicion and tension can eat away at even the most robust love, leaving only fragments of what once held promise.

7) Perfectionism

Imagine your relationship as a beautiful, handcrafted quilt. Each square is stitched with memories, shared experiences, and mutual respect. 

But when you’re with a perfectionist, it’s as if they’re always finding loose threads, pulling at them until the whole thing starts to unravel.

Perfectionists often set the bar impossibly high, not just for themselves but for the ones they claim to love. Your best efforts may be dissected and found wanting, making you feel like a project that needs constant improvement rather than a cherished partner.

The stress of this can be both emotionally draining and deeply damaging to your own sense of self-worth. You’re always falling short of their exacting standards, never quite making the grade.

What’s heartbreaking is that their relentless drive for perfection often masks deep-seated insecurities they themselves carry. 

You might find that they’re not just critiquing you; they’re critiquing themselves through you, using the relationship as a playground to act out their internal drama.

In a love that should bring out the best in you, feeling like you can never measure up is a telling sign that perhaps they don’t know how to love, not just you, but even themselves.

8) Apathy

If love is the fire that keeps a relationship warm and inviting, apathy is the cold wind that snuffs it out. 

You’ll often find yourself fighting to sustain emotional connection while they seem perfectly content to live on the surface. 

Their lack of enthusiasm for your dreams, interests, and even your daily ups and downs can leave you feeling incredibly lonely, even when they’re right beside you.

But don’t mistake this for mere detachment. Apathy is a refusal to engage emotionally, a sign that they’re not willing to invest themselves in the love you should both be building. 

It’s like you’re in a partnership where one person has already checked out, leaving you to pick up all the emotional slack.

That’s no way to sustain a relationship. Love thrives on mutual interest, emotional availability, and the will to make things work. 

The path forward: learning to recognize love’s red flags

It’s painful to realize that someone you’ve invested in emotionally doesn’t really know how to love. 

As I’ve shared, I’ve been down that road several times, and it’s a journey fraught with disappointment. 

But recognizing these traits is your first step to ensuring that you’re not settling for less than you deserve.

If these traits ring true for someone you’re involved with, it may be time for some deep reflection and perhaps, difficult conversations. 

Because you deserve a love that’s willing to grow, to adapt, and most importantly, to give as much as it takes. 

The path forward may be tough, but your emotional well-being is worth the journey.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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