"Sometimes the person you fall for isn't ready to catch you."- Unknown
Step 1: You can't. You deserve better anyway.
Step 2: Learn to love someone the right way.
For anyone unfamiliar with the app Flipboard, it’s basically a personalized magazine. You pick the topics you want to follow, such as world events, psychology, religion, cat videos, etc. Then it will show you articles related to this on your homepage, where you can read them or flip them into one of your own “magazines” to read for later. I follow is love, dating, and relationships (among many other topics), so it didn’t surprise me to stumble upon this article, “How to Make Someone Fall in Love With You in Five Steps.” I’m under the belief that you can’t make anyone fall in love with you, so this intrigued me and I read it. It actually contained a lot of information that I’ve found elsewhere, but the underlying message of it all deeply bothered me.
I’ve said it before, but I’m no expert when it comes to love. Still, I hold very strong beliefs on the topic. I believe there are ways to manipulate people to like you, and there are signs to reveal someone else’s level of interest, but you cannot make someone love you. Of the tricks I read, one is to make your pupils larger (by dimming the light), because dilated pupils are attractive. Another is that couples who are in love look at each other 75% of the time, as opposed to 30-60% for people not in love. So, it was suggested to stare longer at your love interest, which would hopefully trick their brain into thinking they loved you.
Though, I agree with the research behind this, I think it’s ridiculous to try to use this information to trick someone into believing they love you. A few other suggestions I found that were less creepy included smiling, showing your partner appreciation, and listening. All these things can help someone else feel cared for and therefore open enough to return the feelings. In my own experience, I know I’ve made guys feel incredibly special just because I can be very encouraging and positive. And I’ve gone crazy for guys who will listen to everything I say, and who have amazing smiles. These aren’t outlandish ideas.
But these suggestions are better suited to help increase intimacy between partners struggling with it, not to manipulate someone to fall in love with you when there’s not even an attraction there. Love is freely given and it cannot be forced. What concerns me more is the audience that this type of article attracts, and I have two messages for them, and for everyone who has wanted to be loved by someone. The first involves what we should really be looking for, and the second is the right way to get someone to love you.
Helen Fisher, anthropologist, and author of several books on love, says that everyone has a lovemap, which includes our values, beliefs, past experiences, etc. Our lovemap is what leads us to love one person and not another. It’s all very subconscious and something we don’t have a whole lot of control over (if any). A lovemap is different to the very conscious lists we make when looking for a partner, because our lists don’t contain a lot of subtleties like finding someone whose hug reminds us of the way we were held as a child. We aren’t aware of a lot of things on our lovemap, but just about everyone is aware of the list of qualities they are looking for in a partner.
Our lists of qualities change over time and with every new experience. Sometimes our experiences cause us to abandon the stupid list because it never proved to be much help anyway. Sometimes, we learn to modify the list, either creating higher standards or letting go of some.
I’m very fond of my ever changing list. Overall, I don’t think it’s changed a whole lot over the years, more like some things become more or less important to me. I want someone who makes me laugh, who’s intelligent and who I can have good conversations with. Someone who is passionate about something. A compassionate, caring person, who genuinely cares about people, and someone who respects me. I could go on and on, but right now, at the top of my list is someone who reads, which is another way of saying someone who will support me. This quality has always been important, but it’s moved its way to the top because in my last relationship, my boyfriend at the time stopped supporting me in my writing. It devastated me and led to a two month hiatus for my blog. I thought to myself at the time, if the person I care about, who supposedly cares about me too, doesn’t want to read what I write, why would anyone else? It wasn’t a realistic or healthy thing to think, but it’s still what I thought. So, now I desperately want a reader and am quick to disregard anyone who doesn’t like to read.
Whether consciously or subconsciously, we all have a list. When we meet someone who fulfills even half of those requirements, or at least the most important ones, we get super excited and hopeful and want to hold on to that person for dear life. What if that person slips away and I never find anyone else like that ever again? What if I lose that person and I’m alone forever? That person is perfect and all I need. That person will make me so happy. We think these thoughts when we stumble upon someone who seems like they’d be perfect for us.
But what happens when that person either doesn’t know you exist, or does but doesn’t return the feelings? We go crazy. Our desire for that person usually intensifies, and we convince ourselves that if we had that person, our lives would be different, be better. “If only that person knew how perfect we’d be together,” right? Thoughts like these prompt articles like the one mentioned above. We just want them to love us back.
Well, I’m going to be honest – that thought is pathetic and you should really be thinking something else. I’m speaking to myself as well when I say this. Above all, the thing that should be at the very top of your list is this – “Someone who sees my worth and wants to be with me.” Number one spot. Let’s examine why.
Do you think you are worth being wanted, worth being pursued, and worth being liked for who you are? If you’ve answered no to any of those, then I hope you come to love yourself more, because every single person is worth all those things. I’ve come across a lot of articles that said to get someone to love you, you have to find out what they like and become that. You have to be someone else, and liked/loved for someone you are not. How does that make any sense? It usually doesn’t take an article to convince us to do that, because we can do it well enough on our own.
The same above mentioned ex-boyfriend started out by being someone he wasn’t, and later resented me for it. He liked that he didn’t come across many girls like me. He liked that I was intelligent and a writer, and he wanted me to like him back. So, he tried to become what I wanted. He took an initial interest in reading what I wrote, and even reading a book I liked (even though he didn’t like to read in general). He was also sure to lie about something I didn’t want, which was someone who did any kind of drug. Progressively through our relationship, it became harder for him to keep up the pretense. I wanted him to go to my bookclub with me, and when he finally went, he said this isn’t who he was. He wasn't someone who liked to read, and didn't belong with me and my nerdy friends. He also turned out to be someone who liked to smoke weed every day, which was something I wasn’t okay with. In the end, he said I changed him, and he wanted to be himself again. But I didn’t like who he actually was, and that’s not the person he showed me at the beginning.
It’s understandable to want someone to like you, but trying to manipulate them into doing so is neither beneficial to you or the other person. Maybe it’s easy to believe you have to become someone else because you don’t think anyone has ever liked you for you. Maybe no one has ever seen the real you. Well, if people don’t know the real you, then that’s because you’re too insecure to be yourself. If you have shown yourself deeply to someone, but they rejected you, then it's understandable why you're scared to open up again, but I'll also add - forget that person! They obviously couldn’t see your worth. Someone else will.
If you find someone who you think is perfect for you, but they don’t want you, then you deserve better. Yes, you deserve better than perfect, because you deserve to be wanted and loved for you above all else. It doesn’t matter if he’s the funniest guy you’ve ever met, or she’s incredibly intelligent, or if you think you had a real connection. You should never have to convince someone to like you back, and especially not to fall in love with you.
Love isn’t something you can win or earn. It isn’t a feeling that can be controlled or manipulated. It is something that is freely given, whether you feel like you deserve it or not.
There’s a story I heard from a famous Italian film, Cinema Paradiso. The story goes that this young man was in love with this beautiful girl, but she hardly noticed him and didn’t want him back. Still, he was determined. I forget the specific details (it’s been a while since I’ve seen it), but he said he would wait under her window for one hundred nights, and if she opened the window, he’d know she loved him too, but if she kept it closed, then he would leave her alone forever. So, rain or shine, he waited every evening for her to open the window. After the ninety-ninth night, he didn’t return for the last night. Why? Not because he gave up, but because he didn’t want to earn her love in that way. He realized that she would either love him or she wouldn’t, and that her love wasn’t a prize to be achieved after one hundred nights of waiting.
I don’t think that you can manipulate or trick someone into loving you, but I do believe there is a right and wrong way to show your love and make someone feel loved. In my own experience, I’ve been really successful at getting guys to like me a lot really quickly, and even profess feelings of love for me. I know that, though, when a guy has had no interest in me, there is nothing I could do to get him to like me. I’m crazy, so I’ve definitely tried. All that results is the guy usually getting creeped out by me, and then he's scared off forever. When someone doesn’t want you, you can’t make them want you. And you shouldn’t. As I said, you deserve better than that.
When someone is interested in you, then I think there is a way to make that person really feel cared for and special. Let me be clear. This isn’t and shouldn’t be a way to trick them into loving you. It’s just one way among many that I think people should show love and care for others. What it really comes down to is giving that person something that everybody craves.
When I’m really interested in someone, I find out what their passion is, and whether I’m interested in it or not, I try and take an interest in it. My above mentioned ex is also another good example of this. He loved cars. He loved taking them apart, putting them together, fixing them, finding out what’s wrong with them, and finding ways to improve them. He had the insecurity of feeling stupid in general, but he was confident in his knowledge about cars. I have no interest in cars whatsoever. To me, it’s a thing with wheels that takes you from point A to point B. Still, he loved them and I cared about him, so I listened to him talk about cars for literally hours. Seriously. I asked him questions to learn about what he knew. This was a way of encouraging him and also a way to let him know he wasn’t stupid, but in fact very smart when it came to cars and problem solving. And as I mentioned, at the beginning, he took an interest in my passion too by reading my posts as soon as they were up and talking to me about the topics.
I do this with everyone I’m really interested in, and it’s also something I expect from anyone interested in me. When you find out what someone loves and show them that you care about it too, then they feel more cared for. It brings me so much happiness when I find someone who wants to read what I write, and not just my blogs, but who also asks to read my stories and other musings. Writing is my passion, and that doesn’t mean I want someone who is also passionate about writing. On the contrary, I don’t want to be with a writer because I think writers are crazy and there can’t be two crazy people in this relationship. But I want someone who cares enough about me to care about what I love.
This extends to many different aspects. If you’re a parent, you want to find someone who will care about your kids, because of how much you love them. You don’t expect to find someone who will love them as much as you, but you know you couldn’t be with someone who didn’t like your kids. There are a million different things it could be – music, cooking, dancing, architecture, etc. These have to be more than just a hobby. It usually doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t support your hobby, but it matters a great deal whether or not they support your passion and what you love most.
Whenever I have taken an interest in someone else’s passion, it always leads them to having more favorable feelings for me. The deeper interest I take, then usually the more they like me. But, I don’t take an interest so that they will like me. I do it because I know how much they appreciate it and how happy it will make them. I do it because it’s what I want someone to do for me. It makes people feel special and cared for.
However, if you cannot take an interest or support someone in their passion, then maybe you shouldn’t be with that person. Some people are passionate about video games, and if you hate video games, then it’s not a healthy start for a relationship. Some people love drugs, drinking, and partying. If you can’t support that, then find someone else with a love you can support. Additionally, if someone can’t support your passion, then you deserve someone who will.
There are obviously a million different ways to make someone feel cared for. It’s important to note that there is a big difference between showing someone you care and making them feel cared about. You can show someone you care in all the wrong ways, and if they don’t feel cared for then it doesn’t matter. Supporting what someone loves is just a very easy and tangible way to do this.
Everybody wants to feel loved, wants to feel special, and wants to feel cared for. Whatever way you find to make someone feel those things is the right way to love them. It’s not the way to force your love upon them, trick their brain, or manipulate their feelings. That is not love, because that is selfish, and love is selfless. So maybe, instead of trying to find ways to make someone fall in love with you, your energy would be better spent on finding someone who will love you willingly, and then learning to love that person the right way.
p.s. My best friend directed me to this beautiful letter a father wrote to his daughter. I thought it was very applicable: A daddy's letter to his little girl (about her future husband)
It's well worth the read.