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Someone once said, you can’t make people love you. You can’t force it, you can’t create it, and you can’t manufacture it. You have to harness self-love first and then let it come through in your interactions with others.
But the inability to make others love us is a hard lesson to learn!
We’ve all been there, right? Whether it’s a crush at school or an unrequited love, we’re all searching for that perfect someone—that special person who will make us feel greater than ourselves and "complete us."
We also crave support from others, particularly family members. But inevitably, in most families, there seems to be a lack of connection between at least two members who don’t seem to mesh.
That song “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places” by Johnny Lee probably holds a special place in my memory because I remember playing it repeatedly when I was a teenager. It’s a wonderful song to listen to when you’re feeling lonely, where no one seems to understand you or cares about your problems. It has an emotional hook that strikes chords with many listeners’ experiences.
But even as I listened to it then, I knew there was something self-destructive about looking for love in all the wrong places, and just as insidious in too many faces.
When you’re looking for validation and acceptance in people who don’t even know you, you’ll be constantly let down and disappointed by strange faces who don’t care about you.
They’re just like everyone else on the planet—they live in their own little world and have their own problems and concerns. They do not know what’s going on inside your mind and heart.
But perhaps you’ve come to terms that strangers, neighbors, and even friends may never fully love you or even like you in the way you wish.
But can you accept the fact that you can’t make people love you, even when you fervently hope to have a meaningful relationship with them?
I especially dedicate this blog post to those who crave this connection with someone, but it’s a one-sided desire with little chance to change.
What do you do in this dismal scenario? Here are 7 strategies:
"Your worst battle is between what you know and what you feel." — Alex Haditaghi
1) Clear the air but be ready to accept an unfavorable outcome.
Being in a relationship with someone who is not ready to be in a relationship with you can be a frustrating and painful experience. You may have tried everything within your power to get the object of your affection to commit, but sometimes nothing works. The person may have other priorities, or maybe they’re just not attracted to you.
When it becomes apparent that they do not reciprocate close feelings, it’s important for you to accept what is and move on. To do otherwise will only lead to misery, as you will always be disappointed and frustrated when things don’t work out and align to your plan.
This is a truism for all relationships. If the other person has not showed a desire to work on the relationship, or if they’ve been clear that they don’t see a way forward, there’s not much more you can do besides accept their decision and move on.
If there’s no chance of reconciliation, your presence in their life will probably only cause pain for everyone involved.
The aim should be to find peace for yourself and closure for the other person and then move on so that everyone involved can begin a better chapter of their life.
Accept what is, is. Yes, you wish the situation was different, but wishing for a different reality changes nothing. No amount of convincing will make another person feel something that they do not already feel;
I encourage you to speak frankly and candidly about your feelings. You can have a heart-to-heart conversation or write an honest, well-intentioned letter.
But when a disapproving response ensues (or no response follows), accept what is and pat yourself on the back for making sincere attempts at repairing the relationship, regardless of the outcome.
2) Love yourself.
Suppose you meet someone who you think is totally perfect for you, but they don’t seem to feel the same way. And even though you’re perfectly nice and normal, they’re just not interested.
This type of rejection is difficult to deal with because we see our own worth as intrinsically tied to external validation.
We need other people to think we’re attractive, funny, smart and likable in order to feel good about ourselves. So when we can’t get what we want—whether that’s a date or a friend—it feels like a blow to our self-esteem.
A healthy way to view rejection is as an opportunity for personal growth rather than a threat to your self-worth: not every person you meet will see you in the same positive light you see yourself in. In fact, when we yearn so much for someone else’s approval, it often means we have underlying issues with self-love.
Loving yourself means forgiving yourself for your mistakes, letting go of toxic thoughts, and letting your inner beauty shine through instead of focusing on outer appearances.
It also means valuing your own opinions over anyone else’s—because truly loving yourself means having enough confidence to withstand any ostensible rejection.
Also, take time for yourself pursuing activities you enjoy. You ensure your own level of happiness; do not depend on others for it.
3) Forgive yourself.
When a family member creates distance and space from you, it's hard to understand why. You may feel a sense of guilt for not being perfect enough or for doing something wrong. But no one is perfect. And sometimes, people will choose to make your life more difficult simply because they can—and you deserve better than that.
The best thing you can do is forgive yourself for any past errors in judgment you’ve committed toward this person. And if you can’t think of any mistake you've made—or believe you've committed a minor infraction—forgive yourself for not being perfect or unable to measure up to this person’s expectations.
It also may have nothing to do with you; they may just be experiencing pain and difficulties in their life and do not wish to bridge any connection. This person may also just wish to have a scapegoat for the problems they’re facing.
So take a deep breath, remember that no one is perfect (including yourself), and give yourself permission to move forward—without them if push comes to shove.
4) Let go of toxic emotions and forgive the other person.
While you may still love that person, there may be a part of you that bears resentment toward that person.
Your hurt and rejection may lead to resentment, which will only hurt you even more.
Resentment is often a destructive force in relationships. It can lead to avoidance and withdrawal, as well as other destructive behaviors that can cause even more pain than the initial wound of rejection.
It is an emotion that causes you to feel angry at another person for something they have done, or something they have not done. Resentment may also cause you to feel anger toward yourself for feeling angry at someone else.
Holding a grudge can also cause feelings of self-pity or self-loathing over your inability to let go of painful memories or experiences in your life.
Instead of harboring ill feelings, forgive the other person for not attending to your emotional needs. This will help you let go of any bitterness toward this person so that you can move on with your life.
5) Cultivate other friendships.
When someone else does not love you back, refuse to put all your eggs in one social basket. This person doesn’t have to be the be-all, end-all of your existence.
You need to keep putting time and effort into friendships and relationships with other people—don’t get so caught up in this particular relationship where everything else falls by the wayside because of it.
Moreover, don’t hold it against them if they’re not willing or able to balance out your life for you—no one is supposed to do that.
Be sure that there are other people in your life who care about you and who will support you when hardships arise.
And if you have no social circle, this blog post may prove helpful.
6) Realize it’s not all about you and refuse to take it personally.
It’s not all about you. It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that every time something happens with the other person, whether good or bad, it’s somehow related to your relationship with them and your direct imprint.
It’s natural to feel hurt and rejected when a friend or family member doesn’t return your affection. And it’s only human to take those feelings of rejection personally, even though it probably doesn’t, at least in the full sense, have anything to do with you personally.
Intellectually, we know that when someone we like doesn’t like us back; it has more to do with them than it does with us. But that doesn’t stop people from taking things personally and feeling hurt.
To tell a person “it’s not you” is rarely helpful and often patronizing (and can even be taken as an insult). It’s like telling someone their feelings are invalid or wrong.
Therefore, we need to recognize our own feelings of rejection and hurt, but not internalize them and make them about ourselves.
Try not to take a lack of connection with another person personally. You can’t control how others feel about you, but what you can control is how much you care about others’ opinions of yourself.
If someone has made a conscious decision not to love you back, then there’s nothing wrong with accepting this choice on their part without denigrating yourself.
7) Grieve and seek counseling if you feel too overwhelmed.
People suffer a lot of loss in their lives. Sometimes that loss is from the death of a loved one or when a relationship ends. Other times, it’s from the end of a friendship or even the end of an engagement.
These losses can devastate us, but we shouldn’t have the expectation that we can do anything about it—we can’t always make someone love us or stay with us or want to be our friend.
It’s important to grieve the absence of relationships and to remember that even though we can’t control what other people feel, we can control how we feel about ourselves and our lives, and we need not let anyone take that away from us.
If warranted, a therapist can help you deal with your grief. A therapist will help you sort through your feelings and address any issues that might not have been fully resolved in the past.
Common Misconceptions About Making Someone Love You
“Sometimes it's better to end something and try to start something new than imprison yourself in hoping for the impossible.” ― Karen Salmansohn
Here are several areas of faulty thinking when desperately trying to make someone love you.
Fallacy 1: You can’t make someone love you by giving them more or loving them harder
Affection isn’t something that is given based on a cost-benefit ratio. It isn’t something that you can have more or less of. It’s not manipulated by the things you do for one another, or the sacrifices you make for one another, or the things you buy one another, or the words you say to one another.
Affection is a feeling that is present or it isn’t present at all.
The only thing you can do to inspire affection for someone else is to be affectionate yourself; if they’re feeling affection toward you, then anything you do to further their positive feelings will only deepen their affection—and if they aren’t feeling it after your repeated attempts to foment it, then no amount of further effort on your part will catalyze it into existence.
Fallacy 2: You can’t make someone love you by imploring them to see you in a different light or by using guilt.
Another fallacy about love is that you can make someone love you by imploring them to see you in a different light or by using guilt. Whether it’s a breakup you’re trying to prevent, rekindle a relationship with your ex, or keep the lines of communication open with your child, any pleading on your part for the other person to reconsider their decision, will have little effect on them.
When we are in love with someone and want to influence our loved one’s decision, we sometimes utter the following inane statements:
- I will be miserable without you
- I’ll die if I have to live without you
- Do this for me, because I have done so much for you
- If you really loved me, you would do this
- Your actions show me you never loved me.
All these comments will usually be ineffective and if they motivate others to action, then you’re getting compliance, not love.
Fallacy 3: You can’t force someone to love you.
It may seem counterintuitive, but you can’t make someone love you. No matter how much you implore, no matter how much you sacrifice your own needs and desires for theirs, no matter how much you try to convince them that life without you is unimaginable, they still have the choice to love or not love you.
You can’t make them see what they don’t want to see. You can’t force them to submit to your will.
You might think that your sacrifices are noble and all-encompassing—that if they only knew just how much you will give up for their sake, they’d realize how undeserving and ungrateful they’ve been, and finally return your affection.
But people have a right to their own feelings. They’re allowed to feel the way they feel without being pressured by those around them into feeling otherwise.
Also, even if it worked—even if you could somehow convince your partner that he or she owes you love—it would create resentment in him or her. And resentment eventually kills relationships.
Final Words - You Can’t Make Someone Love You (Just Ask Bonnie Raitt)
“I miss your smile... but I miss mine more.” ― Laurel House
Trying to make someone love you is a fruitless pursuit. That’s because love isn’t something that can be created or forced—and it definitely isn’t something that can be willed into existence.
The only love that isn’t a mistake is the kind that happens naturally and spontaneously, with no effort on your part. The trouble is, most people don’t respect this truth.
They think if they’re just nice enough, or if they try hard enough, or if they act in just the right way, then they can get someone to fall in love with them. It rarely works out that way, though.
When you put that much pressure on yourself to force a connection with someone else, you end up feeling a sense of emptiness when plans go atray.
Your desperation creeps into everything you do around this other person, and it’s exhausting for both of you. When your emotional health depends on another person loving you back, it’s very easy to feel like a victim when things don’t go your way.
While listening to Bonnie Raitt’s song, “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” I was moved by the raw emotion conveyed in her voice. Listening to the song, I was reminded of how easy it is to feel dejected when loved ones don’t respond in the way we want them to.
We can invest ourselves in a relationship, only to feel rejected when we discover that the other person doesn’t share our feelings. The lyrics embody this feeling: “You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t.”
Unfortunately, the effect of this type of rejection can cause us to question our value and self-worth, which can lead to feelings of despair and depression. But there is hope!
While you can’t control how others perceive you or their reaction to you, you can work on accepting yourself and loving yourself for who you are.
If you find yourself in a situation where someone doesn’t love you, try the suggestions in this blog post. The proverbial light flickers in the darkness, but you can make this arduous journey yourself and find the light on the other side.