I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I could change someone else’s feelings for me.
I’ve spent hours praying for him to change his mind, I’ve had countless fantasies about him waking up and realizing that he had never really seen me before.
In my mind, he is my perfect match. He likes the same music I like, he wants to be involved in the same kind of ministry, he will spend hours talking about books, and from my perspective, we clicked instantaneously. But eventually, I realize he’s not as interested as I am. No matter how perfect he seems, I can’t change his feelings. I want to, though.
So, I create opportunities to see him, to talk to him, hoping that in the right situation he will respond the way I want him to. Maybe he just doesn’t know I’m interested, I say. And so I drop not-so-subtle hints and wait for him to notice. Maybe he’s just attracted to all the wrong girls, I think, as I secretly envy every more attractive girl who has ever gotten his attention.
I think most of us have been in this situation. We’ve all had feelings for someone who doesn’t reciprocate them, no matter how perfect they seem. And maybe they are missing something. Maybe they don’t know the whole story about us. Maybe they’ve never really looked hard enough to know.
But no matter what their reasons are, we can’t change them.
And I’ve realized lately that my attempts to look a lot like manipulation. Trying to get someone to respond in a certain way, trying to bring someone to a conclusion they wouldn’t arrive at on their own—that’s manipulation. No matter how small, manipulation is not a foundation for a lasting relationship.
Maybe we can put on a show, wear our best outfit, say flattering things, and act like the most interesting person in the world, but sooner or later, they will still realize they fell for an act instead of a real person. This, too, is not a foundation for a lasting relationship.
At the end of the day, it’s time to let it go.
This is both the hardest thing to do, and the best thing for our souls. When we can’t change someone, we need to set them free. We need to set them free to choose their own path, to choose who they will love. We also need to set ourselves free from trying too hard to impress, from harboring unrealistic fantasies, from the tendency to find our worth in someone else. Through this action, we are not only demonstrating that we love them, but also that we love ourselves.
I can’t tell you why some love people who love them back, and some get hung up on the ones who don’t. I can’t tell you why personal compatibility doesn’t always line up with physical attraction. I can’t tell you why this happens time and time again, but I can tell you it’s okay to be alone. It’s okay to let them go. Stop fighting for them, and start fighting for yourself.
Don’t let another person tell you who you are.
Maybe someday, this will all be worth it. I can’t tell you how or when, but maybe someday the story will be different. We won’t need to manipulate, to put on a show, to impress someone before they will love us. I know this because I’ve heard all the stories, and I hope to tell my own someday.
I hope we all do, even if our stories never involve another person. I hope our stories will tell others about confidence, about joy, about our identity in Christ. I hope our stories will be about the relationships that caused us to grow. I hope our stories are about freedom, and not about entanglement, about gratitude, and not about envy.
We can’t change someone else’s story, but we can change our own.