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I've been thinking a lot lately about the things we do for love. The knots we twist ourselves into, the hoops we jump through. In the pursuit of love (affection, acceptance, and approval too), we compromise our standards and abandon our identity. We work too hard, wait too long, and people-please the hell out of ourselves.

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As a dating coach, I see this happen with my clients, and not so long ago, I used to see it in myself. In my 50-year span of singleness, disappointments were plenty, and self-worth was often in short supply. I wanted to be in a relationship. I wanted to be married. I wanted to be in love. That it was taking so long had me convinced I wasn’t enough, and it confirmed my fear that love was out of reach. But it didn’t stop me from trying. During those days, I thought if I worked hard enough and waited long enough, I’d eventually become someone’s most precious person.

I eventually got married and became someone’s most precious person, and not because I waited for him to love me. Love happened because we both honored our authenticity and were honest with each other. Neither one of us had to twist ourselves into knots or jump through hoops. We accepted and loved each other exactly as we were. The key to all this was learning to accept and love myself first.

When you wait for people to love you, you wait for them to recognize, appreciate, and validate you. You wait for them to affirm and determine your worth. Sometimes we go to great lengths to win people over, but in doing so, we risk losing our power and authentic selves.

In my coaching practice, I see people struggle with feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and self-doubt. Add in chronic rejection and you can see how their fears are confirmed. It’s a vicious cycle I wrote about in my blog post “Put Yourself On Your Own Damn Pedestal.” In it, I talk about the danger of trying to be something you’re not for the sake of being loved.

When you wait for someone to love you, you end up handing over your dignity to the person whose approval or acceptance you so desperately seek. And it’s not just in love. People contort themselves in the name of friendship too. We bend over backwards and cross our own boundaries to be liked, or to be in certain circles. It’s exhausting and ultimately very demoralizing.

Out of curiosity I did a Google search on “How To Make Someone Love You,” and much to my dismay, I found over 1,480,000,000 search results. Apparently, there’s a whole industry devoted to being loved, by any means necessary.

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Here’s a few titles I came upon:

  • 6 Scientifically Proven Ways To Make Someone Fall For You
  • How To Use Psychology To Make Someone Fall (and stay) In Love With You
  • 19 Ways To Help You “Make” Someone Love You
  • 12 Ways To Make A Woman Fall Deeply In Love With You
  • 15 Tricky Psychological Ways To Make Someone Love You
  • 6 Sneaky Ways To Get Him To Say I Love You
  • 15 Science-Backed Tips To Make Someone Love You

Reading all this broke my heart because not one of them suggested the way to get someone to love you is to simply be yourself.

Waiting for people to love you is a complete waste of your precious energy and time, not to mention a complete slap in the face to your self-respect. Dating or wanting to be friends with people who don’t feel the same way is a constant reminder of what you can’t have, even worse, that you’re unlovable–which isn’t true.

If you keep trying to be something you’re not, if you keep trying to be what you think someone wants, you will become unrecognizable to yourself, which to me, is more painful than not being loved in the first place.

So don’t hold back your truth or stifle the real you. Don’t be so fearful or self-conscious that you forget who you are. The only thing you need is conviction about who you are, and what you have to offer. Practice honest self-reflection and embrace your lovely, charming, decent, kind, intelligent, authentic self. Above all, make sure you’re connected to your worth at all times. That alone will win people over.

At the same time, dump the people-pleaser and let the approval seeker go.

It shouldn’t take long for people to see your magnificence, but if it does, you’re with the wrong people. Move on, don’t wait around. As dating advice writer Shani Silver reminds us: “Anyone you have to convince to want you is a prime candidate for deletion.”

Don’t wait to be someone’s most precious person, start right now and be your own precious person first.