“They don’t want to be my friends.”
My 7-year-old daughter had just come home from her time at summer camp, and we were processing a situation that came up involving a couple girls that just didn’t want to be her friend. She had tried talking to them, complimenting them, sitting with them, and involving them in what she was doing.
But every attempt was failing. They would move away, ask her to mind her own business, and blatantly ignore her throughout the day.
“I know!! Maybe I’ll make them friendship bracelets, so that they’ll like me. I am just determined to make them my friend!”
Her persistence gives you a look into the type of girl she is – she doesn’t quit and she doesn’t give up easily. But in this case, it was time to give up. My best advice to my sweet daughter was, “child…it’s time to let go. People like this are not worth your time.”
It was interesting processing this situation with her, because as a parent – I saw the situation so clearly. She was giving, investing, trying…and getting nothing in return. She was trying so hard to make this relationship work, because she wanted to succeed! She wanted to be liked!
But in the end, she was investing so much energy into a relationship that would eventually get nowhere. A one-way relationship, where she would be doing all the work, and getting little to nothing in return.
Sometimes, I need that lesson myself.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Because it’s a problem that we all face at different points in our lives with the many relationships we engage in.
Getting Over The Need To Be Liked
We want to be liked so badly, that sometimes we allow ourselves to be in relationships where we’re doing all the work.
We value being liked by others over loving and respecting ourselves.
And that’s exactly where it has to start. In order for us to move away from these type of relationships, we’ve got to begin by recognizing our value and worth standing alone.
We’re not valued because of the people who like us, we’re valued by the One who created us.
And that truth, when it’s finally sunk deep, deep down, has completely revolutionized my life. Over the past decade, I’ve been learning this lesson in many ways, shapes, and forms. From friendships where I had to set major boundaries, to dealing with misunderstanding without feeling the need to defend myself.
One crash course in particular came with my becoming a writer and teacher in the public domain. On an almost daily basis, I had to deal with some kind of critique, disagreement, negative comment, scathing hate mail, or hateful review.
One of those hateful reviews actually came from a “friend” in ministry, who in an anonymous review (well, she thought it was anonymous – but it really wasn’t, yikes!) publicly wrote that I had nothing of value to add to this conversation and add to that – my personal love story was so ridiculous that it made her nauseous. Gee, thanks, “friend”.
Welcome to the reality that no matter who you are or what you do, you can’t get everyone to like you…and to the more important reality that you SHOULDN’T EVEN TRY. STOP TRYING TO GET PEOPLE TO LIKE YOU.
Part of becoming a healthy person is learning to recognize early on which relationships are worth investing in, and which aren’t. I get that every now and again someone will be so good at pretending that they’re a good friend, that you won’t recognize the wolf in sheep’s clothing right away. But to be honest, those times are more rare than not. Usually the signs are there, we just aren’t willing to look for them, or when we see them, we’re not ready to let the relationship go until we end up hurt, drained, and betrayed.
Overcoming The Need to Be Liked
I feel like I’m finally at a place where I have gotten over my need to be liked. Part of this has come in realizing that I only have so much emotional margin. I only have so much room to invest in relationships, and so I want to (no, NEED TO) save my emotional energy for friendships and relationships in which I am valued, loved, and respected. Relationships in which I’m giving as much as I’m taking. Relationships in which I am not doing all the work.
If you listened to the most recent episode of my new Love + Relationships Podcast (if you haven’t listened, go give this episode a listen right now!!), you heard me tell our caller who was struggling in one-sided relationships:
“You attract the type of relationship you think you deserve.” – (Tweet it!)
I said that to my daughter a few days ago, I say it to myself on a regular basis, and I say it to you today.
It’s time to get over your need to be liked, believe in what you deserve, and free yourself from relationships that are holding you back. Because oftentimes, by closing your heart to the wrong relationships, you open your heart to the right ones.
There’s so much more to this conversation! If you’ve ever struggled with the need to be liked, click below to listen to the correlating Episode of my Love + Relationships Podcast: One-Sided Relationships
A version of this post originally appeared on True Love Dates on August 1st, 2018. Used by permission.
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, national speaker, relationship expert, and author of True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, and Choosing Marriage: Why It Has To Start With We > Mewhere she writes candidly about love, sex, dating, relationships, and marriage. You may also recognize her voice from her 200+ articles at Relevant Magazine, Crosswalk.com, and all over the web! She’s the creator of this True Love Dates Blog, reaching millions of people with the message that healthy people make healthy relationships! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter or book a session with her today!