Help Describe Love - to Person who did not feel it from parents


Hello all,
The Post by Sailor Kenshin below prompted me to start this thread.
I always felt Christian Love from my family and feel inadequate to answer his concerns.
I hope that some of the good kind folks here can share stories, and/or recommend reading to him that might help.

Given what you say in your first paragraph I think that the advice in your second paragraph is a good place to start.

The thing to remember about Godly Love, is that it is not an emotion in the way that the world thinks of Love. Otherwise we ould never be able to Love our enemies. Love is a choice. A choice to do things for the Glory of God. To do Good. To imitate Christ. To give to Others.

St Paul gives a good description of what Love is in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

St Therese of Liseaux described her way of holiness as the “Little Way of Love”. This way means doing little things with great Love. Doing everything for others as you would do for Christ.

I hope this helps some and that others can provide even better help.



Praying the Rosary could really help, I think! The Rosary will immerse us in the love of Christ. Once we start to know and feel God’s love, we could also feel love in general.


Sailor added a bit of background info that I thought would be useful for us to see.
Let’s see if we can Surround Sailor with Love that he will feel.


Love is not a feeling. It is an act of the will, a decision to do what is best for the beloved even if it is difficult. And “what is best” is always that which will bring the person closer to God.

Sometimes when you act in a loving way, it feels good. Sometimes it hurts; it often involves sacrifice. How it feels is relatively unimportant.


I’ve prayed the Rosary just about every day since before swimming the Tiber. It used to give me consolation. Divine Mercy too. No longer.

I appreciate the responses. I guess I just have to continue to do love by the numbers. I don’t expect people to understand what it’s like for me.


Dear Sailor Kenshin,

Growing up, my father said he couldn’t “feel” love. In fact, he said he didn’t feel much. He came from extreme poverty and saw things no one should see including watching a friend set himself on fire in despair. On and on.

My point: I felt loved by him. He was the most gentle man I have ever known. While he said he didn’t feel love, I recognized that he must have eventually. In my twenties, I came home for his 50th birthday as a surprise. He hugged me with the most joyful hug I had ever experienced from him and his face was radiant… a picture I still have. He learned to feel love by loving without feelings.

My grandmother (his mother) came from an Eastern European block country and fled the year Stalin came to power. She witnessed worse things including her entire village destroyed, soldiers riding through it on horses lopping off people’s heads and then burned it to the ground. She hid in a mucky lake breathing through a reed to survive. Who was left later died in concentration camps. I think only a sister or two survived. She also did not “feel” love since her life in the US was the same as that which affected my father. However, when I was a teenager, she also was radiant with love and the most affectionate person I knew.

I don’t know if this helps your pain at all. But I thought maybe if you knew other people who suffered what you do, you could take heart and perhaps by loving as best you can, you will eventually be given the gift of feeling it.

PS. My father was a sailor… :slight_smile:




Sailor Kenshin, I agree with the others that love is a choice. But I also understand what you mean about wanting to just feel loved and I think that’s a need that we all have. It can be very hard when you didn’t experience that from your family. I was blessed with a loving family but there were struggles and often I felt alone. Also I had sort of a difficult childhood (I say sort of cause tehre are many who have it worse) but that’s the reason why eventually I turned to God. :slight_smile: one day I was just thinking how empty I feel and I just wanted someone to understand, just to be a friend. I felt like even when I spoke to my friends, there was this distance between me and them and like no one could ever truly understand what’s inside of me. But I felt like maybe we all want this. I think now that’s an indication of our need for God… St Augustine said that there’s a place in our hearts that only God could fill. Since the fall, we’ve felt that absense, but have tried to fill it with other things. I know it must be tough with your family, but remember that God can use that very thing to draw you closer to Him… just trust in His love. If you don’t really understand it right now, ask Him to show you, what love is. Ask Him to also teach you how to love - I think we all need that, I know I do for sure.

That day, when I was thinking, I started to pray and suddenly I felt so close to God, and like He completely understands. Jesus was already my Lord but at that moment He became my Best Friend too. He healed me in many ways and I no longer had that bitterness inside. I felt like He completely understands us, and loves us, and cherishes us. When you look at people showing love to each other…and if that is painful for you…remember that Jesus shows us love in an even greater way, and that He loves YOU like no one else can EVER love you.

God is infinite love. He loves each person completely, individually, not just the “human race in general”. He gives His Heart to each person. When we trust in His love, we grow in understanding of it, and we’re able to receive it more. Love is not a feeling but it can involve feelings. God knows we sometimes have a human need to feel love, but also we can give love to another person without feeling it. We just have to wish their good and show them kindness.

About God’s love, there’s this prayer/meditation that’s always helped me remember what Christ’s love is like.

God bless you :hug1:


Sailor Kenshin - I 'm not surprised about your difficulty isn’t surprising given your background. It’s very difficult to feel and express love if you haven’t experienced it and/or if you do not value yourself.

So I think the first thing you need to do is not feel guilty about your situation - it doesn’t show a lack in you but a lack in those who brought you up. It would have happened to anyone they brought up unless they had seen that what they were doing was damaging and learnt some new skills.

Also some people say I will not behave the way my parents did - a good first step but it needs something else to work and that is to know what to do and to do it although it seems strange and maybe scary.

Maybe it could help you to think about what makes you feel good when other people interact with you and try to do the same.

Best wishes as you discern our responses and try those that you think will be helpful.


I am so sad for you that you didn’t get love as a child from your parents.As the previous poster said it is the fault of your parents not you.I can only imagine it makes it hard for you to trust people and let people in to your life.
I was very close to my grandmother.She was like a real mother to me.She showed me such unconditional love as I have never known before.I always knew where I stood with her.She gave me boundaries with love.She was consistent and stuck up for me as a teenager with my parents.When I left school I moved to live with her.We were very close.The mother I am now is based on what i learnt from my grandmother.
Have you good friends or a girlfriend? I believe it is possible to get love from your partner you never got as a child if you meet the right person.
To me love is someone being there for you,without question.It makes you feel secure totally.
God loves us all unconditionally,faults and all.
God bless you Sailor,you have a good heart and much love to give.Hence you were brought to tears when you witnessed the mother comforting her child.I hope you find some love really soon


Thank you. Do you think that’s what my reaction really means? I hope so—maybe I am trying to force the issue.

Even if I have to do ‘love by the numbers,’ I will.


I note you using this phrase, “Love by the numbers” a lot. This is a pretty interesting turn and I’d like to comment on it.
Even those of us who received love from their parents and family often have to do “Love by the numbers” when it comes to Loving as God wants us to.
That is because Gods Love is so inclusive and expansive that we must continually stretch ourselves in order to try and emulate that love.
So while you may be beginning from a different point than someone else, please know that we all must struggle to grow our Love in the way God wishes us to.

So, please know that doing “love by the numbers” is not necessarily a bad thing.

One piece of advise I would give is to do kindnesses for others and watch their smiles. Accept their gratitude. Also learn to hug.



Yes I really do think thats what your reaction means.You have love in your heart to give and you can feel love as you demonstrated when you witnessed the mother comforting her child.If you get a chance, why don’t you volunteer to give love to others and you will find you are rewarded with love right back.
Many organisations including the elderly,prisoners,childrens homes,animal rescue centre’s etc would all love a volunteer.
If not join a social group or do an evening class to socialise more.
I care for my sister with a Learning Disability & last year took her once a week to evening cookery classes.She enjoyed it so very much & I made new friends plus I felt rewarded by the pleaseure of all the Learning Disabled Adults who were .This made me feel loved.
God bless you my friend.You have much love to give and someone somewhere has love to give you.


Have you tried the prayer of the Miraculous Medal? It is so short and powerful:

Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

I find this prayer to be truly miraculous that it changes my disposition almost instantly. Perhaps it will be useful to you.


I forgot to mention that this prayer is probably most powerful when you also wear the Miraculous Medal on your neck.


[quote="Sailor_Kenshin, post:11, topic:176306"]
Thank you. Do you think that's what my reaction really means? I hope so---maybe I am trying to force the issue.

Even if I have to do 'love by the numbers,' I will.


You need to work on this love everyday. Sometimes I spelled love T-I-M-E.

closed #17

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit