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Looking for Someone to Fill the Emptiness


empty photoSometimes people feel an emptiness inside, as if their heart has a big hole in it.

It’s a painful feeling.

Trying to fill that hole often leads you to search for someone to love you. You believe that having someone love you will fill the hole and you will be complete.

You find someone and this person seems perfect for you. When you are with this person, the hole is gone. You feel complete and content. The agony of emptiness and desperation is gone. You are so drawn to this person that you stop seeing friends and stop other activities. This person becomes your life. To be complete and to have peace, you need this person.

Your self-worth and self-esteem now depend on this other person. You become clingy. Because this person is your everything, you are overly alert or hyper alert to any signs that this person is not dedicated to you. You become unreasonable about being apart and may be jealous of the other person spending time at school, work, with friends, or with family. You know it doesn’t make sense to be jealous of the other person going places and being with his/her family, but you have a strong need to be most important in his/her life.

You seek reassurance in many ways. You are still fighting against the emptiness which is so painful. You may ask over and over if you are loved or accuse the other person of not caring about you. Maybe you pretend that you are mad or maybe you pretend you are going to break up to see how the other person reacts. You need to be the center of the other person’s attention and tell yourself that s/he should meet your needs. You may become controlling. You may not be able to stop yourself even though you see the conflict your behavior is creating, because the pain for you is overwhelming.

Unfortunately these behaviors push the other person away. What can you do?

  1. Become aware of the ways you are seeking reassurance and attempting to control the other person. Pay attention, and if you can, ask for honest feedback.
  2. Practice loving the other person. Loving someone means supporting them in living their best life. Think about what your definition of love is and consider whether you are behaving in loving ways.
  3. Think about what you have in your relationship rather than what you don’t have. What you pay attention to becomes your view. When you pay attention to what you do have in your relationship, you will be less likely to be as critical as when you pay attention to what you believe you don’t have.
  4. Find other ways to feel joy. Commit to spending time doing activities that build your own sense of worth and value or bring you joy.
  5. Accept that learning to appreciate alone time will be difficult. Then find activities that you can do alone. Practice. For example, go for coffee by yourself.
  6. Don’t idealize the other person. Let yourself see his/her strengths and weaknesses.
  7. Accept your own strengths and value. If you don’t recognize your value, then take some time to find it or develop it. Seeing yourself as worthless increases your dependency and fearfulness of being left.
  8. Develop your sense of self and identity. For example, pay attention to what matters to you and what makes you happy. Try new experiences and undertake activities that you can be proud of.

These ideas are only a few of the ones you might try. You might also want to consider seeing a therapist with expertise in relationships and emotional sensitivity.

Looking for Someone to Fill the Emptiness

Karyn Hall, PhD

Karyn Hall, Ph.D. is the owner/director of the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Center in Houston, a DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified Clinician, a RO DBT Approved Supervisor and Trainer and owner of, an online educational program. She is a trainer/consultant as well as a therapist and certified coach, author of The Emotionally Sensitive Person, SAVVY, Mindfulness Exercises for DBT Therapists, and co-author of The Power of Validation. Her podcast, The Emotionally Sensitive Person, is available on iTunes.

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APA Reference
Hall, K. (2017). Looking for Someone to Fill the Emptiness. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 18, 2020, from


Last updated: 6 Dec 2017
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