she loves me, she loves me not

"Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own." —Robert A. Heinlein

One of the questions that tortures adult children of narcissists is whether or not their parent actually loves them. It cannot be denied that the parent feels strong emotion, and that the parent may even believe that this strong emotion is love. Many of us even heard "I love you" growing up, which makes it even more confusing when we realize that we don't feel loved. 

When I start going into a "maybe I'm not giving her enough credit, maybe she really does love me and miss me" tailspin, it helps to ask myself, does she act in a loving manner? How does a person behave when, as Heinlein says, the happiness of another person is essential to his or her own? I'm guessing that they would not belittle them, or attempt to control them, or act like they dislike them.

As a kid, I was taught that sometimes you don't like family, but you always love them. Today I would say that this isn't true. While I might be irritated by somebody at one specific time, if I don't like them as people, how can I truly love them? And if I have been aware for many years that my mother dislikes me, I have my answer to the love question, don't I?


  1. I don't believe that "like" and "love" must go hand-in-hand. I think you can like someone but not love them, you can love them but not like them, and you can neither love nor like them. One is not contingent on the other.

    I think what you're talking about is "liking" a person's behaviors. There's this theory that we're supposed to be talking about what a person DOES as opposed to who he/she IS...(that's when you can say, I LOVE my mom, but I don't LIKE her behaviors). counter-theory is this: What happens when what a person does crossed over into who she is? Eventually, how she behaves must tell us something about who she is, right?

    So, I agree with you Claire - you can dislike your mother because of how she behaves, and how she behaves is a picture of who she is. It's okay not to like her. And it's okay not to love her.

  2. I think like and love are connected. If I like someone, I might be onto something. If you never like someone and don't like anything they do, then you probably don't love them. And usually, if someone has almost nothing I like about them, it usually means they suck. I like most people and I think the like comes from love. If I like the way a person thinks and the things they do, then I probably love them and will end up loving them. They're like two things holding hands.

  3. It took a good long time before I was able to admit to myself I did not like my mother, I did not love her and if I had a choice I wouldn't even have her in my life.
    I have never regretted the choice to terminate the relationship. There wasn't anything TO terminate realistically, as it was quite clear from my youngest years she felt the same way towards me. Any residual doubts I may have felt were absolutely confirmed by all of her behavior post NC: She was far more wacked than I ever could have imagined-and far more dangerous.

  4. I've come to realise that my mother is incapable of love. To expect any was setting myself up for pain and anguish. Reducing expectations of N people assures you are better equipped to handl them.
    Give your love to those who deserve.