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We know that Voldemort does not love. He does not understand it, nor (generally) the magic that it possesses. He knows nothing of the sort.

[...] "you possess in such quantities and which Voldemort has not at all." [...] "because he could not bear to reside in a body so full of the force he detests. In the end, it mattered not that you could not close your mind. It was your heart that saved you."

(Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, page 1075)

The above confirms it (although I believe there is a better quote), though this clip reinforces it. The fact that he hugs so awkwardly shows that he does not really know how, due to his lack of love.

I realize that Voldemort's appearance started to change after he started to create Horcruxes, but surely he had an ounce of love when he was a child? The hugging scene perhaps shows that he never once loved his whole life (possibly due to the love potion with his parents?). If so, when did Voldemort begin to have no love at all, and why?

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JKR stated in an interview (transcribed on her old site) that Tom Riddle has categorically never loved, nor cared for anyone at all.

Q. Has Voldemort or Tom Riddle ever cared for or loved anyone?

JKR: Now, that’s a cracking question to end with—very good. No, never. If he had, he couldn’t possibly be what he is.

As to why he's loveless, this is largely down to the fact that his mummy didn't love him.

Ravleen: How much does the fact that Voldemort was conceived under a love potion have to do with his nonability to understand love is it more symbolic?

J.K. Rowling: It was a symbolic way of showing that he came from a loveless union - but of course, everything would have changed if Merope had survived and raised him herself and loved him.

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  • I would say it's a combination of this and his tie to the slytherin blood line. He was initially scarred by being raised in an orphanage without knowing ANY of his family history, other than his mother died giving birth. Once he made the connection that he was slytherin's heir, it seemed to be a complete downhill spiral. He began taking on the beliefs of slytherin (pure blood is superior, etc) and began seeking immortality. His mother dying may have been a factor for that. Once he began the creation of horcruxes, his soul started splitting and ANY love that may have been there, was gone.
    – Joe JMC IT
    Jan 27, 2016 at 20:49
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    @JoeJMCIT - Alex posited that the death of Voldemort's mother was the primary motivator for his own quest for immortality.
    – Valorum
    Jan 27, 2016 at 20:53
  • So he had never loved, and thus started when he was born?
    – Jake
    Jan 27, 2016 at 21:00
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    @Jake - The implication is that if he'd ever known love (even as a tiny child) that he'd be capable of working out why Harry keeps eluding him. His extreme (and fairly textbook) antisocial personality disorder makes Lily's spell a total blind-spot
    – Valorum
    Jan 27, 2016 at 21:06
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    “His mummy didn’t love him” sounds a bit harsh on poor Merope—at least I’ve always felt that she did love him, but her desire to live was so weak by the loss of the love of her life that she died despite the love she did feel for her unborn/just-born son. I think JKR implies this as well: if she hadn’t died, she would have raised him herself and loved him. She just wasn’t around long enough to make her love felt. Feb 15, 2016 at 15:30

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