Disclaimer: the ideas in this post are just my own philosophical musings, not facts.
For most of my life I felt constantly hungry for love. Even while someone was being loving to me I would feel desperate for more. It wasn't until I was 27 that I even had one moment where I was receiving love and felt satisfied and like I didn't need more -- would enjoy it, but didn't need it. And it wasn't until I was 33 that I ever had that sensation on a regular basis.
I have this theory that until a person reaches a saturation point with loving nourishment, they can never feel relaxed or secure in any of their relationships. This one experience is so pivotal that it is like a stage of development, and a human's life perspective is profoundly changed once they have this experience. Parents are supposed to give this experience to their kids so that their kids can then enter adulthood ready to meet others as equals. Instead most parents don't, and most people enter adulthood still desperate for love, wanting to get without having to give, feeling like there is never enough. Like starved children we snatch at any nourishment offered and many times spill it everywhere.
People who felt fully loved as children often can't relate to feeling insecure or needy without logical cause. These people are put off by the expression of those feelings, thinking of them as irrational or silly, but I think feeling "full" of love is a real human need as powerful as the need for food or air. For me at least, having food in my hand is not comforting when it is not going to fill me and I doubt any more will ever come. We scarf it down as quick as we can so we have our hands free to grab the next scrap. Or we "save" it for when we will need it more, which is a day that almost never comes.
There are so many harms that can spring from this. Perhaps the biggest is that people who have never experienced saturation (I will call them hungry, for lack of a better word) are willing to accept all manner of ill treatment along with love because they are starving. It is ridiculous to expect people who have never had enough food to ever eat slowly or turn down crappy food.
In the same way, it makes no sense to expect people who have never felt fully loved to ever be satisfied with an easy amount of love, and it makes no sense to expect them to be able to say no to people who offer love as an appetizer to abuse. So many hungry people raised by abusive or selfish parents have absolutely no way to tell what is real love and what is bribery.
Many times we choke out our opportunities for real love because we get so desperate and cling so hard. We can delude ourselves, magnifying small kindnesses and minimizing all negatives to try and trick ourselves into feeling nourished; this prevents either person in the relationship from learning and growing. We can lose ourselves, becoming so desperate for the other person to keep loving us and not leave us that we compromise more and more of who we are until we are just a reflection of the other.
The worst part is that often, someone has to have experienced saturation themselves to be able to give it to someone else. A hungry person can't purely focus on nourishing someone else because as you feed them a part of you watches jealously, wishing you were the one getting that care.
I recognize it so easily now and it always makes me ache and feel an urge to throw out my whole life and dedicate it to making this person feel loved. But I can't do that, and it wouldn't be a good way to spend my life, pouring myself out endlessly for people who literally can't give back. That's not remotely sustainable.
Other than meeting one of those lucky ones who got saturated with love in childhood, I think we can only hope to find someone who wants to get love in the way we are inclined to give it, and wants to give love in the way we want to get it. I think other than basic ethics, this is the number 1 most important thing in a relationship.
I'd advise my former self to ask, first and foremost, as a precursor to close friendship and/or romance, "think of the three closest people in your life. What do you think they get out of their relationship with you? how do you bring them nourishment and joy most often? most easily? most happily? and on the other hand, what actions of others make you feel nourished and contented?" and then I'd consider whether I could feel nourished by the same things, and if I could nourish them in the way that works best for them.