For those who may not know, a fallacy is mistaken belief, often times based on some principle or assumption that you did not know was actually wrong. It is like when you build a house only to realize the foundation is no good and the whole thing ends up crumbling down.

Recently, I have come to believe that there is a faulty assumption about love that almost everyone seems to build their life around, but in reality it causes an awful lot of struggle and anxiety because people don’t understand where they went wrong.

I want you to consider the true motives behind most human endeavors. I would say that most of the things we do, we do in order to be “good enough” or “desirable.” Think about people pleasing, competition, perfectionism, worry, cultivating beauty, pursuing fame, seeking popularity, protecting our pride, fighting for respect, trying to be unique, trying to fit in, being judgmental, being angry at being judged and I could go on and on…

One way or another we are constantly seeking to boost or soothe our ego. And I believe on main reason for this is that we want to feel worthy of being loved. 

“If I make them happy then they will love me.”

“If I can be the best, then they will love me.”

“If I have the most likes, then I will feel good about myself.”

“Why don’t they love me?”

Let me put it this way, we are constantly striving to figure out the puzzle of how to make people love us. And we often get frustrated when they don’t. Why do you think it bothers people so much to be judged or disrespected?

But here is the faulty foundation. Let me explain it with one of the most famous Bible verses. Even if you don’t believe in God, I hope you’ll realize the point is still valid.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NIV

God loved us while we were sinners. He loved us while we were unworthy. Real love is not a reactive feeling. Love is an act of will on the part of the giver, not based on the worth of the recipient.

This is pretty key, so I’m going reiterate my point. If love is given at the whim of the giver, you cannot make them do it.

One more time,


People can love others who do not deserve it.

People may not love others when they do deserve it.

If someone does not love you, that was a choice they made.


You can influence people. You can make them happy. You may be able to make them like you.

But love is an unconditional choice to care about another person’s well being, whether they deserve it or not.


Let me illustrate it with a very honest insight into one of my private moments. When my daughter was born and they put her in my arms, my immediate reaction was not exactly warm and fuzzy. My first thought was, “Who is this stranger? I have never seen her before and I am supposed to love her? I don’t know anything about her character or who she will become.”

But then I spoke to her, “I am your daddy. I will always love you and protect you no matter what.” And then the warm fuzzy feelings and the tears came.

I chose to love her. It had nothing to do with what she had done, and it will always be my choice no matter what she does.


So, this truth is both wonderfully freeing, and somewhat terrifying at the same time.

On one hand, you can stop striving so hard for other people’s approval. I mean, really…they are only humans. Why is their validation of you so crucial? If you only knew what skewed their perspectives, you wouldn’t worry so much. It is like looking into fun house mirrors trying to figure out what you truly look like.

But on the other hand, you have to accept that you are not in control of whether someone loves you, or continues to love you, and that truth is so scary that perhaps it explains why so many people are blind to this fact.


If you can accept it, the truth will set you free. Forgive the cliche, but it really fits.

And it not only frees you from such excessive striving, but it is also the key to love others better. If you do not have to worry about whether people deserve your love and respect, you can just choose to give it, making this world and, most definitely, your own life that much brighter.


You can’t make people love you. I encourage you to accept it and start living. Do not be afraid.

I love working with people who are introverted, people pleasers or very conscientious, because a lot of their work is the same work I had to do for myself. Also, it is much easier to teach a selfless person how to love better, than it is to get a selfish person to care about others.

One of the big lessons I had to learn as I became an adult and that I see many people struggle with, is to realize that:

Loving people does not always mean making them happy.

I think the impulsive need to try to make people happy comes from childhood. As a child, you have very simple, black and white thinking. If you upset someone, you are told you did something wrong and you need to go fix it. If you make someone happy, you are told you are a good little boy or girl. Perhaps this is even more ingrained in homes where an upset adult may become abusive, so the best way to protect yourself is do whatever you can to make them happy.

Either way, it results in a powerful emotional impulse to make everyone happy so that you feel safe, loved and good about yourself. Those are some of our most crucial needs in life.

But as you get older, more and more situations arise that require increasingly complicated value judgments.

If your friend is stumbling around drunk and asks you for their car keys, do you give them the keys to make them happy and protect your friendship, or do you risk upsetting them and possibly losing the friendship to keep them safe?

I use that example because most everyone sees the clear loving choice is to keep the keys even if they get mad. But what about when the stakes are a bit more grey?

Do you tell your boyfriend that you are not comfortable with his actions and risk having him reject you?

If you feel really guilty for something that has happened to your child, do you let them get away with bad behavior?

If your girlfriend had a horrible childhood and is deeply depressed, do you stay in a relationship you do not want in order to love and protect them?

Some of those questions are more difficult than others, but it is really hard to figure out the ethical choice, or even the most healthy thing for the other person, if you measure the rightness of your actions based solely on whether people like them or not. It takes more a mature morality to discern that love is focused on the the well-being of another person, which is not always the same as their happiness.

Someone once told me that the opposite of love is not hate, but rather the opposite of love is fear. I’ll probably go more into detail on this another day, but this knowledge helps greatly in decision making. When you are struggling to figure out the right thing to do for someone you care about, ask yourself:

Am I doing this out of love, or out of fear?

When I realized that most of my dilemmas were an internal struggle where I worried about upsetting people or how they might think of me or that they might leave me, I realized that most of those concerns were based on fear, and fear is the opposite of love. When I removed fear from the equation, usually the right, loving choice became fairly obvious.

So, if you want to be the strong, confident, loving person you want to be, you need to remember, “Loving people does not always mean making them happy,” and ask yourself, “Am I doing this out of love, or out of fear?