I’m not sure anything can hurt more than this.
You’re giving the one thing you value most to this man—something you’ve saved, something that’s very precious to you, something that brings great joy and happiness—and he’s saying…
“Nope. Nah. Don’t want it.”
It makes you feel foolish.
Like you’re standing there, holding this beautifully wrapped gift—a gift you’ve made just for him, with all your sweat and tears and blood, a gift that’s priceless—and he’s walked away without taking it.
You can’t help but wonder if everyone is watching. Did everyone see you give your love to him and the way he walked away?
Because this gift you’re giving him is your heart. It’s you. And he doesn’t want it.
You admire and respect and love this man so much. If someone like him won’t love you, maybe your gift is worthless. Maybe no one will ever want your heart.
STOP RIGHT THERE.
Yes, it hurts.
Yes, it sucks.
But this is not how the story is supposed to go.
There’s a different story that you could be telling yourself, one where you’re incredibly grateful for what happened…
Because it kept you from making a terrible mistake.
If Only I Could Make Him Obsessed With Me…
When people search for love advice online, it’s almost always because there’s someone they have feelings for.
Someone who doesn’t feel the same way back.
It’s tempting to think that we could send a series of texts or say a few secret phrases, and unleash a torrent of seductive chemicals that will make him switch on a dime and come panting at our heels.
It would be like having a secret superpower!
The power to control other people. The power to make them fall in love with us.
But I don’t have to tell you that that’s not love.
If this guy needs a chemical high in order to fall for you, then you’re out of luck, because chemicals fade. Don’t ever make decisions while you’re drunk, right?
Intoxication is not the foundation for lifelong love.
Being Good at Dating Doesn’t Make You Good at Love
Many years ago, I started in the love advice business by helping married couples who were struggling.
I saw so much pain.
What’s the point is being able to date someone and get them hooked on you if you end up in divorce court 5 years later?
It seemed to me that these couples were being set up to fail.
They were set up to fail before they even got married.
They were set up to fail when they were single.
They were set up to fail by what they learned when they were dating.
The skills it takes to date successfully are VERY different to the skills it takes to love for a lifetime.
In many ways, the better you get at dating, the harder time you’ll have when it comes to the work of lifetime love.
Seduction is chemical. Lifetime love is a conscious practice.
Isn’t Love a Sign?
We’re told that the feelings we have for someone are the only sign we need to know we should be with them forever.
And it’s wrong. Just plain wrong.
This can be hard to wrap your head around, because when that first intense burst of attraction hits, it’s powerful.
It makes you lose your mind. All you can think about is him. All you can see is him. Life without him is gray and empty. Surely that’s a clear sign from the universe!
But what you’re experiencing is a neat system programmed into human beings by Mother Nature herself.
Mother Nature knows that the future of our species depends on procreation. So she makes sure that the reward is mindblowing. It’s the best feeling on earth. It’s insanely addictive.
But Mother Nature doesn’t care if you’re together forever. She just wants you to be together long enough to make that child and raise it to an age where it can survive.
That’s why we don’t have the same powerful reward systems around commitment and monogamy. They’re not necessary for the survival of our species.
Those intense feelings you feel?
They’re part of our built-in programming as human beings.
But they’re not there to help you make a life with someone.
If you want someone for a lifetime, you’ve got to look for something else.
Who Do You Value More?
Let’s go back to this man who doesn’t love you back.
Surely your feelings for him mean you should be together forever. But it’s not happening. He’s not complying.
And it’s tearing out your heart, because you don’t think you’ll ever feel that way about anyone again.
If it’s any reassurance, Mother Nature did not design human beings to love just one person per lifetime. We were designed with the capacity to keep falling in love as long as we’re alive, if we choose to stay open.
The dilemma you face right now is whether you’re going to value a man over yourself.
Because look at what you did! You offered him this great big beautiful gift. You took a risk.
And look at what he did. He didn’t take it. He walked away from you.
I know you have feelings for him, but his actions are pretty clear.
He may be a great guy, but he’s not great enough if he’s not opening his heart to you.
He Has Love But Won’t Give It to You
Another mistake we make is assuming that everyone is capable of love.
It feel likes the reason he isn’t loving you is because he’s got love to give, but he’s choosing to withhold it from you, because you don’t “deserve it” somehow.
Think of it this way.
Imagine love as this beautiful crystal globe, glowing with joy and happiness and everything good. He’s got the globe. He keeps it right here inside his heart.
What you want to do is pull that glowing crystal ball of love out of his heart. Actually, no—you want him to reach in there and hand it to you.
You just know that when you hold that crystal globe in your hands, it will surround you with a rosy aura of warmth and goodness and pleasure and happiness. You will feel safe and loved and blissed out.
Wouldn’t you do anything to get that globe?
Of course you would!
That crystal ball does not exist.
It’s made up. It’s a myth.
Love is not a feeling that you give each other.
Love is how you treat each other.
The Truth Lies in What We Do, Not What We Say
Hollywood has given us plenty of examples of couples who are all, “I love you! I love you!” only to announce their separation a few days later.
Those feelings that we prioritize? They’re not actually as important as we think they are.
The true clincher—when you know it’s REALLY love—is when you see how someone treats you.
Because we can fake our feelings. We can say whatever we want.
It’s our actions that reveal us.
When you love someone, you commit to doing the work. You honor them. You respect them. You adjust your life to include them. You try to never hurt them.
That glow of love comes and goes, but the practice of love is what keeps marriages together.
A lot of guys—and a lot of women, too—aren’t ready to do that work.
They’ll sleep with you, they’ll say words of love, but they won’t respect you. They won’t adjust their lives for you. They won’t let you get too close.
And yet you think that you can change their mind. Surely, if only they felt the same powerful feeling you’re feeling, they’ll fall head over heels for you, and you’ll live happily ever after!
But happily-ever-after requires a lot more than some feelings.
It requires the work of love.
Feelings Follow Actions
That’s what I wish couples understood.
Back when I started my career, I remember wishing that couples hadn’t been thrown into marriage thinking that their feelings for one another were enough.
That’s what they’d been told: as long as you love each other, you’ll be all right.
Which is true, as long as you understand that “love” refers to how you treat each other.
As long as you ACT lovingly towards one another, THEN you’ll be all right.
When relationships fall apart, that’s the first thing that goes:
The loving actions.
They stop treating each other with love and respect.
Because they’re not treating each other with love and respect, the love and respect in their marriage starts to die.
Spot the Good Guys
You know what I hope for you?
I hope you meet a man who treats you with appreciation and respect.
Someone who values your company and likes you for who you are.
That guy is worth so much more than this other guy, who looks on the surface like a catch but sure doesn’t act like one.
Men who know how to love reveal themselves in small acts of kindness, in checking in with you, in rearranging their plans for you.
They’re good guys.
Their goodness is evident in how they treat you.
What you do next is completely up to you.
You can keep pursuing this guy who turned his back on you. Those feelings are hard to ignore.
But I hope this has helped you see that you don’t have to choose him. You can choose yourself.
You can choose your vision of a lifetime of happiness with a man who can do the work of loving you.