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I’m doing some character work and I was wondering if anyone could find a word that means ‘someone who feels unlovable’ or ‘believes themself unworthy of having their love returned’.

I'm looking for something a little more targeted than just ‘self-deprecating’ as I don’t feel like that really fits, and a little more concise than just ‘feels unworthy of love.’

For context, this character has been in love with someone since childhood but has given up on pursuing his feelings because he feels he is not worthy of her love. I wouldn’t necessarily call it ‘low self-esteem’ since it’s just in this situation, but I could accept that as an answer :)

Looking for adjectives, but I’m open to anything.

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  • Is it relevant if this self-assessment is too harsh?
    – user888379
    Aug 17, 2022 at 12:22

3 Answers 3

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There is the word loveworthy; and its counterpart unloveworthy is existent also, rather as a neologism. The un- prefix is a productive prefix in English; and in this case, it is prefixed to an adjective to express a negative sense.

OED defines loveworthy as below:

Worthy of being loved. Also as n.: a person who is worthy of love.

Loveworthy is used both as a noun and an adjective, but mainly as an adjective. OED provides a noun example of loveworthy as the loveworthy:

Well, bless you both. Give our loves to the love-worthy.
1940    A. Huxley Let. 5 Jan. (1969) 449

The same definition can be applied to unloveworthy by changing worthy to unworthy. Unloveworthy can have the connotations of having a self-image of unloveworthiness within the right context, with a more sentimental approach, where unlovable lacks that. Unlovable is more like someone who is incapable of being loved, undesirable or lacking attractive qualities etc., and it can be used for things other than people also.

Here is a relevant example I've found with unloveworthy:

He essentially feels unloveworthy and responds to this belief with lonely self-sufficiency. He makes a virtue out of being stoically "independent" or dependent only on himself.
mtlawleycounselling.com.au

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Low self-esteem is good, as well as low self-worth, insecure, inferiority complex, and lacking respect.

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Self-loathing

This is someone who feels they are not good enough, and that they are unworthy. This often involves self-hatred and very low self-esteem.

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    I'd say that self-loathing is a step further than seeing yourself as unlovable. Certainly in the same direction though. Aug 19, 2022 at 22:35

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