You Can’t Make Another Person Love You

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20070527_territorios_2007_035Creative Commons License courtesy of oooh.oooh

I spent a few hours today answering questions from both guys and gals on this site, and there seemed to be one recurrent theme in all the questions. It went something like this, “My boyfriend (or girlfriend) used to love me, but, all of a sudden, he (or she) became cold and doesn’t seem to want me anymore.”

I started asking myself if there’s some kind of a strange virus going around (just kidding) called “Unrequited Love Syndrome.” Yet, when I began to analyze my own situation, I realized that I’m no different from all the people who post to Relationship Talk about people who either used to love them and stopped or who never really loved them in the first place.

Why do we love someone?

1. Maybe being with a certain person makes us feel more alive.

2. Maybe we feel an overwhelming chemistry every time we talk to or see the object of our affections.

3. Maybe our love object possesses personality traits we admire but don’t have.

4. Maybe, at least for a while, our loved one behaves as though our feelings are being reciprocated.

5. Maybe we are just smitten because we love a person’s looks, scent and very being.

Oh, I could come up with many reasons why we fall in love with someone. However, for the life of me, I can’t seem to come up with reasons why we often fall in love with someone who can’t return our love. Are we setting our standards too high? Are we falling for people who are emotionally unavailable? Are we just deluding ourselves that our feelings of passion for another person must be true love?

The sad thing is that, in a large number of cases of unrequited love, the other person’s emotional distance or inability to love us has nothing to do with us personally. We sometimes unconsciously choose people who lead lives which are too hectic, who have too many other responsibilities, who are too much in demand to be able to give us the love we crave.

And yet, we berate ourselves mercilessly when we are rejected. We ask ourselves: Would he (she) have loved me if I were thinner, better-looking, smarter, more self-sufficient, etc. etc.?

Berating ourselves for loving someone who can’t love us back, sad to say, is a pure waste of time and energy. What’s the point in loving someone who just isn’t that into us? Does it make us feel better? Definitely not. Does it make us feel important? Absolutely not. Does it make us happy? No. It makes us frustrated and it makes us cry.

Yet, we continue to do this because we convince ourselves that the object of our desire, love or affection is our true soul mate and that no one else could possibly take that person’s place in our lives. We center our lives around the objects of our affection. When the person doesn’t reciprocate our feelings or is distant one day, we are crushed. When the person takes an active interest in us we are elated. But, we have to realize that, if the object of our affection really loved us, they would be CONSISTENTLY interested in us. They would go out of their way to please us and to tell us that we are loved. Anything short of that isn’t love. It could be lust. It could be admiration. But, it isn’t love and we need to face the facts.

The bottom line is that we can stand on our heads. We can do things for someone we love that we wouldn’t think of doing for anyone else, but the bottom line is that we can’t MAKE another person love us. Either the person loves us or he or she doesn’t. And, we have to remember that love means different things to different people. What we consider lovable, another person might consider undesirable. As individuals, we all have different love needs. Some people need to be loved unconditionally, and, if this isn’t happening, feelings of love won’t develop. Other people need to love someone who is exceptionally smart. Still others can only love people who are especially physically attractive. And some people love themselves too much and can’t love others enough. These are the narcissists we often read about. And yet these very narcissists can be masters at inducing feelings of love in others because they can convince us that they are superior human beings by their charm and witty demeanor.

So, when we’re in a situation in which someone we love can’t return our feelings, what can we do so we don’t make ourselves miserable?

1. We can practice self-talk. We can tell ourselves that there is nothing wrong with us and that the person who won’t or can’t love us might be missing out on something good.

2. We can convince ourselves that, even if one person can’t return our love, this isn’t the end of the world because there are other people out there who are able to love us.

3. We can get more involved in activities and hobbies which interest us so we don’t waste our time pining away for Mr. or Ms. Unavailable.

4. We can spend time with friends who love us as people and who can reassure us that we are okay.

5. We can actively look for people who might be able to return our feelings.

Finding love first involves working on ourselves. I’ll be the first person to admit that, although I can look quite attractive in clothes, I would be much more desirable with 10 pounds less. As a food addict, I need to be more mindful about what I put in my mouth and I have to remember how I looked last year when I didn’t carry those extra 10 pounds. Working on ourselves doesn’t always involve something physical. Maybe we need to develop our skills and abilities to make ourselves more “marketable.” Most importantly, we need to BE ourselves and not try to be the person we think the object of our affection wants us to be.

If we keep reminding ourselves that we have to be true to ourselves and that not everyone we love will return our feelings we are taking steps in the right direction. Rejection is hard. Rejection hurts. But, we can only feel rejected if we ALLOW ourselves to harbor those feelings. Instead, we need to tell ourselves that we are worthy of love and that, if someone we love does not return our feelings, it isn’t the end of the world. There are many people out there and, if we are lovable, someone who deserves our love will eventually love us!

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment or give me a


  • Sigi: I think some people choose to fall in love with Mr. or Ms. unavailable because it doesn’t require them the effort of a real relationship. In an unconscious way , they choose someone who they know would not bring them happiness. They need to realize they choose that person because there is something inside that tells them they do not deserve to be happy.
  • Genieinabottle: Sigi, You made an excellent point here. In some unconscious way, people who choose to remain in bad relationships don’t believe they deserve happiness. When my late husband committed suicide, all I felt was guilt at not having been able to stop him. I decided that, since I couldn’t stop him from killing himself and I was still alive, I didn’t deserve to be happy. Ergo, I became involved in a toxic relationship. After two years of therapy, I found out that I had nothing to do with my husband’s suicide and that I deserved to find someone who is able to love me. I’m still struggling with these issues, but eventually maybe I’ll get it right!

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