How to win at love (no matter what)

how to win at loveLove is a paradox.

Those who are clearly on a quest to be loved end up weakened by their efforts. Their hearts are always on their sleeves. They’re dependent on others to make them feel whole. It’s a desperate way to live.

But those who give love away without agenda are some of the strongest people in the world.

Of course, every one of us wants to be loved. To feel valued and accepted. We’re hardwired with a very real desire to feel deep, meaningful connections with other people. That’s just a part of being human.

However, getting the love you want is a counter-intuitive process. To get it, you have to give it. When your top priority is being loved rather than giving love, you put yourself in a powerless position.

It’s all about accepting what you can and cannot control.

While it’s certainly nice to be loved, you can’t force others to feel a certain way about you. Not even the man in your life.

If your top goal is to feel loved, you’ve set your sites on something you can’t actually control. You’ll end up worried and anxious because the thing that matters to you is totally out of your hands.

Sure, you can try to appease the man you’re with. Sadly, a lot of women take that approach. But the end result is rarely what you’re really after.

You’ll have to bend and contort, trying to be what you think he wants you to be. You won’t be able just to be yourself. And the really tragic part is, it might not even work.

Even if you manage to change yourself into the person you think he wants you to be, you’re not going to feel empowered. It’s ultimately deflating to change who you are for someone else. And if that relationship ends, where does that leave you?

But loving your man without an agenda creates a near-magical effect. First, he’ll feel genuinely appreciated. You simply can’t fake that. And second, you’ll feel fulfilled on a deep and profound level.

When love is something you generate from within yourself, there’s no need to worry about giving it away freely. It’s easy to love the man you’re with, and others in your life. It’s not like you’re going to run out of love!

What’s more, your happiness and fulfillment is now in your own hands. You’re doing what you choose to do, not what you hope will make others like you.

how to win at loveThe love you give away will even leave you feeling satisfied within yourself. And, it dramatically increases the likelihood that others will genuinely love you for who you are without you having to change to win them over.

To quote the Beatles, “In the end, the love you get is equal to the love you give.”

Keep in mind that love and relationships are not the same thing. If a relationship fails, that doesn’t mean you didn’t love well enough. When that happens, don’t give up on love. Instead, keep right on loving the people in your life.

It’s the surest, most powerful way to take control of living with purpose and happiness in relationships.

Always on your side,

James


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30 thoughts on “How to win at love (no matter what)

  1. sara said:

    Thank you James,i find your article to speak to me. I consider myself to be a very strong woman who does not tolerate nonsense but there is this man who is working in another state about 1000 kilometres from me. I have known this man for about 5 years. I love this man and i wished he felt the same way. Sometimes i feel like the way i present myself makes him not to take me serious. we have talked about spending time together, when he visit my state. He recently visited my state, he indicated that he wont have much free time but he would like to see me. We met and saw each other for 2hours the 1st day he arrived, the next day he was MIA, it was a struggle to get hold of him. He appeard to grow a bit cold,to cut the story short, he went back to his state and the fact that we did not spend much time together like we planned really hurt me and i reacted with alot of fone calls and smses. After everything, i still want to be with him.

    • Marissa said:

      I’m amazed at how exact our situations happened! I reacted exactly the same way too, and in the end … I still wanted to be with him. I feel that I’m having to learn that a long distant relationship is much harder than I thought.

  2. Susie said:

    My special friend has some substance abuse issues. I recently tried talking to him about it this week. He made some sort of comment, like “I’ve had a rough time, Susie”. On Thurs. (last night) he was showing negative body language during a choir practice. He was looking away from me, not smiling at me like usual or making eye contact with me, and not acknowledging my presence while we were singing. Also, after the comment above, he stated his problem was with two other persons, his landlady he lives with and his neighbor, rather than me. I also have a low self esteem and sometimes lack of trust problem. We’ve been seeing each other a little over six months, and from time to time say “I Love You” either verbally or in an email or text message. Should I talk to him about the negative body language? Now I’m careful about talking about the substance abuse issues. Susie

    • James Bauer said:

      Susie, your question includes a statement about yourself that suggests hypersensitivity to any sign of rejection. He has given you a clear explanation regarding his mood, yet you find yourself wondering if it has something to do with you. I think you already know the answer to your question and just need confirmation that you are okay and you just need to remind yourself that not all of his reactions will be a reflection of how he feels about you.

      • Patricia said:

        I like that comment, because I too am super sensitive to how much my partner pays attention to me. He is attentive for the most part, but sometimes I have to understand that not hearing from him for many hours has nothing to do with his feelings for me. I have in the past sabotaged a few relationships by my feelings of insecurity. Even at this late stage of my life I’m still a work in progress when it comes to love….

  3. Cathy said:

    My husband of 25 years smokes pot every night for the last few years. When I met him he smoked a lot of pot and it didn’t bothere as much. His sibling and their adult children all smoke pot and drink heavily. When our three children got older, I did not like the family gatherings. My mother in law insisted on having us all together for holidays. I grew very upset, and tried hard to protect my children from their cousins bad influence. My youngest child was 16 and drug and alcohol free, when his grandmother gave the him and the adult grandchild an adventurist week alone together to bond. My 16 year old wanted to go, and I protested.
    My husband and I are separated now, and he moved out leavings me and my son.
    I can’t seem to get over the fact that he chooses pot and his sisters family over his own. Is there any hope that he will come back and be the father he was when the kids were little, or should I get the divorce and move on?

  4. Tina Kurrels said:

    I Do Know This Principal James, But It Is Very Helpful To Hear It Again. And You DO Have A Way Of Saying…Or Writing Things, That Helps It To Sink In. Thank You For The Positive Reminder…:)

    • James Bauer said:

      You are very welcome, Tina. Thanks for the encouragement.

      James

  5. Lyn said:

    Hi James, thanks for everything you do. I bought your program long time ago and since then I work on my approach towards men. But still ..there are moments when I am not sure how to react. I have a friend who lives in another country. I have known him for years and thanks to your help he opened up to me… We plan to meet of course, but…how can I motivate him to visit me? What to tell him? I will be happy for anybody’s opinion

    • James Bauer said:

      Thats great! I’m glad you’ve had success with my methods, Lyn.

      So you want him to feel motivated to visit you. Maybe you could start with an “imaginary itinerary” where you tell him what an ideal four-day visit would look like if he could find the time and money to make the trip.

      After that I think you should ask him if there is anything holding him back. Learning his thought process will reveal the next step.

  6. Diana said:

    I’m now over one year together with a man who at the beginning wanted only an affair with me, telling me that he just can’t commit because of his focus on his job and because of his last love who broke his heart completely. I felt crazy in love with him and probably I was sexual addicted to him, because I couldn ‘t move on, I just wanted to enjoy every given moment with him as long it lasts. I even accepted that I love him more and more, but he only likes and desires me. It was a real amour fou for me. Well, during our time together our relationship became more and more serious, he started to open up to me and he confessed that he loves me and that he is completely faithful to me. Step by step I got everything from him what I so desperately wanted. We are best friends now, we can talk about everything, he is interested in my life, he is very helping and supporting and his friends just love me.
    We are not seeing each other every day, because after my divorce my two teenage sons are living partially at my place plus he is busy with his job and I’m also working a lot as a freelancer. I anyway know that after almost 20 years of marriage I’m not ready to live together with another man, I need a lot of place and time for myself. So everything between me and my boyfriend is actually perfect for both. With my love and patience I gave him enough time to realize that it’s safe and okay to love once again and to have an intimate and commited relationship.
    But there is something what is hindering me to feel really happy with him- since he is seeing me as his girlfriend our sex life isn’t as intoxicated as at the beginning. Sex isn’t playing such a big role for him anymore and he isn’t making such an effort to make me crazy like when I was only his lover. When we have sex he is very hot for me and I feel how much he desires me, but I’m missing his dirty talk, his hot sexting, long hours spent in bed, kinky role plays, use of sex toys and all those mind blowing things I’v experienced with him for the first time in my life.
    I know for sure that I’m still very attractive and desirable for him, but he seems somehow sexually saturated. He told me recently, since he is with me, he doesn’t feel the urge for sex all the time and he isn’t fantasizing or watching porns frequently like in the past. He said this like a compliment, to let me know that I’m sufficient and the only one for him, but I find our sex life not as satisfying as at the beginning. I’m craving for the passion he gave me once and for more space for sex in our relationship. He enjoys to talk with me for hours, or to watch TV together and cuddle on the coach, or to go for a long walk, holding hands. He just feels happy to spend time with me and to see me regularly, which is all sweet and I love him for that. But I don’t feel really satisfied sexually. I tried to talk to him about it, but he said, I shouldn’t look for problems or start to make pressure on him. He is many times stressed out a lot because of his job and then he doesn’t have any desire for sex, or he wants only a fast quickie to relieve his pressure, but I’m more the “tantric type”, who loves extensive foreplay and endless love making, which he gives me now only on rare occasions.
    When we have sex, he is still the best lover I ever had, but he is not as caring and sensitive as at the beginning. He is just not really giving his best capacities as a lover anymore, so I’m asking myself if I should just accept this and remember the unforgetable moment he gave me once, or is this a sign that there is actually something wrong in our relationship and I shouldn’t settle for less.
    I feel confused and somehow torn- finally he loves me and has committed to me, but I don’t have the sex of my life anymore… It’s too much to ask for both?

    • James Bauer said:

      Diana. It seems the two of you are close enough to have a conversation about this that does not feel like “pressure” to him. Have you explained this to him the way you explained it so clearly here? I wonder if he would be moved by this.

  7. Diana said:

    James, is there a technical problem? I can’t read your comment on my post from april 4 🙁

  8. Sandy said:

    Hi James. I really enjoyed your articles and advice. I feel I am learning about myself. I have a friend for at least the last 15 years who has always just showed up out of the blue just to see how I was and talk for awhile then it may be weeks or months before he shows up again. He never said or did anything out of the way to me. He was always respectful. There was nothing but friendship between us. He had relationships and I had mine but we both have been single for awhile now. Then one night he wants to help me cook. So we are preparing the food and I dont know what it was about the way we moved around each other but it was so sexy. I began to be attracted to him, watching the way he moved his hands and how he seemed to be looking at me. We both knew that something different was happening but we never said a word about it and after we ate he left. So he came back again and we talked until we fell asleep on the couch. I woke up half sitting up and he was stretched out on the couch and told me to lay beside him so I did. He just held me and rubbed my arms a few times but never went beyond that. We just slept. It felt so good having his arms around me and I felt so safe. The next day he hugged me like he always has before leaving and then he kissed me and it was so amazing. He didnt leave we made loved and then lay in bed and talked and laughed for hours afterwards. It was like we were so connected. He had to leave and we texted for awhile and he told me that he thought he was falling in love with me and that he had never felt like that about anybody. We saw each other a few more times and he would talk about how great he felt being with me. I was falling in love with him and told him so. Then one day he text me and said he was coming over and never showed or called until a 2 days later. His job had called him away was his excuse which was ok with me. He assured me that he missed me loved me and couldnt wait to see me. Then a few days later the same thing happens except he has not called or returned my calls or texts. I made 2 calls and 2 texts in 5 days because I dont want him to feel like Im a clingy desparate person but just worried and concerned. But still nothing. How could everything go from being so wonderful to this silence? He’s never acted like this before so why now after all these years of knowing each other? I dont know if he’s afraid or what it is. I feel hurt and I know its only been a few days. What should I do?

    • James Bauer said:

      Sandy,
      It seems there are too many unknowns at this point, so the best thing to do is nothing. Wait until you hear his explanation. It is possible he thinks this behavior is okay given your unusual history together. It is possible he is under high stress for reasons he has not fully shared. It is possible he is scared, as you said. Don’t let him back into casual interaction with you without first telling him clearly that you were surprised and hurt and ensuring he understands why his actions were not okay with you.

  9. Tricia said:

    I am very in love with a man 13 years my senior. I am 45 and I do not fall in love easily. I have never been married. My choice respectively. He recently went through a horrific divorce and has only slept with 2 woman in his life. He is in the medical field as I am. He has a strong moral character and has a good soul. We have many things in common. He may be an extremely high functioning alcoholic. I do not have a problem with this because I was successfully loved and raised by 2 highly functional alcoholics. I believe in God. I am a very spiritual Christian. He claims he is an athiest ..I do not see this to be so from my observations of him. He is hurt and angry. My question is am I blinded right now?

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Tricia. I wish everyone presented the background history and question so clearly and concisely. I understand why this combination of factors is unsettling. To answer the specific question you raised, yes, you most likely are experiencing the powerful effects of falling in love that influence our judgment and cause us to see our partner through rose-colored glasses. That’s not all bad though and it doesn’t mean you can’t still access your logical reasoning (as you have demonstrated well in this question).

      However, as precise as your question was, I find myself wondering if there’s another hidden question you did not express here. Perhaps it is a question about whether you should consider marrying this man despite the religious differences. More specifically, the way you phrase your question makes me wonder if what you’re really asking might be, “Is he secretly devoted to God and therefore a suitable partner for me?”

      That becomes a question that would be answered very differently depending on who you ask. Some people would claim his spirit can know God even if he is disenfranchised from formal religion. Others would say he has made his choice to reject God even if he adopts benevolent and humanistic beliefs. My recommendation is that you consider who it matters to in your unique social context. Is it your family, your church congregation, or someone else (maybe you or maybe God)?

      As you seek to make peace with your decision, do so without regrets. Whatever you decide, move forward in a way that will allow you to continue to embrace life fully.

  10. Asha said:

    Hey james, great arrival .

    I tried to give him love without expecting return , especially when he is busy with his work,- I go back to my place,give him space to work. I worried he will work whole nite withou sleeping and eating, so I ordered nice late night delivery food for him. I felt he is too pressured before the deadline, so I pick a sunny afternoon and bring him a ice cream eat outside together. I was missing him when he is super busy with his report submission, so instead of ask him when shall we meet, I text him self made funny pictures with capitions to make him smile and be more productive . He told me he love it.

    Before his submission on Monday , I asked him to go for Avengers movie on Tuesday, I told him Monday nite I won’t bother him, bcoz he should go he a drink with his mate to celebrate the submission. He said crazy and he doesn’t have time to plan for Monday yet, and about the movie at Tuesday , he will see.

    That’s all fine. I understand, he is tired and he need space to rest. It’s normal , if I love him, I should give him love and space he asked.

    But James, u know what happened next ?

    I found out from his friend accidentally, right after the submission, he is in the airplan to Amsterdam for 3 days party! He planed it ages, and he told everyone, except me. Even earlier when I ask him about the movie. He choose to hide and lie!

    I’m okay with he is away without me for few days. But the way he hides and lies hurt me. I tried to tell him, we r friends, he can share things with me, I won’t control or judge him.

    And Jamie’s, u know what’s next? He smiled, he said I’m sorry u found out this way by friends. He said it’s like he cannot get ride off me in any case and he called me stalker and scary person. He said I bordered him deeply by texting him with those funny pictures and those motivation words, and delivery food, ice cream and coffee. He said he doesn’t need them, and he won’t feel greatful for something ( the love I give) he didn’t ask.

    James ! I’m completely confused. He said he loves the funny cheerful text, he loves the ice cream and he took the coffee I bought and delivered to him everytimes happily.

    But for a party in the other country, he choose to hide and lie, and the worse thing is- he took all the love and understanding to granted and tell me he never asked for any of those.

    I feel like I was wrong to give him my love with understanding. He is not appreciated at all like a spoid kid- who he wasn’t before.

    And after I asked him and he pissed off on me, he said he don’t want to see any of my text or call when he s away these 3 days. I was so angry and don’t understand how did he turn all the fault to me in the end.

    Now he is party -ing, with his old friends in Amsterdam. Before he leave, I tried to be calm and funny like normal, I said remember use condom is u want sth dirty in there, I don’t want to get infection from u later :). I think this is the most love I can offer him, and u know what he said ? He said OK!

    So Jamie, do u think ur theory is really works in my case? I think because I always giving my love to him, in end, he just think I’m stupid and start fall me around like idiot.

    James, I totally don’t get it.

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Asha. For a question with this much depth it would be better for you to get private consultation, which you can do here.

  11. Alma said:

    Hi James,
    My partner of 10 years is cheating on me. The same girl for a year and a half now. and for the last 6 months my partner is already living with her. My partner would come home once or twice a month for 2 days or so then go back to the girl. And when we’re together my partner would tell me it’s really me that he loves and he’s trying to break it up with the girl but he’s having a hard time and he feels sorry for her. When i ask my partner how longer will it take for us to be together again for good, he just keeps saying it wont be long now, for me to just hold on and wait, be patient and trust him that he’ll come back for good.
    Its really hurting me more than i can explain, but i love my partner and im hopeful that in the end we’ll make it and be together. Prior to the cheating, we never had any tough problems we cant solve together, our life has been very happy and easygoing..
    Should i still believe him? should i still wait? Do you think he’s sincere? Do you think it will happen? Pls James help me.

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Alma. This is a question that would be better addressed privately. Click here to pursue that route.

  12. Kathy said:

    Hi James
    My husband has an addiction of lusting . It is tearing me apart. I can see he tries hard not to, but the habit to do so has gone beyond his control. He says he will get better and don’t need help. Why do men lust. This is been going on for all our married life. We are married for 34 years.

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Kathy. There are a lot of different possible meanings for the term “lusting,” but I’m guessing you mean a part of his mind becomes hijacked by the way women’s bodies can trigger desire.

      The response to visual arousal triggers is wired in by his DNA and not the problem. The problem is that he doesn’t take action to STOP that lusting response when it’s focused on someone other than the person he has a relationship with (you).

      There is no addiction when it comes to sexual desire. It’s just a bad habit some men have and a false belief that it doesn’t really harm anyone to indulge it. Start by helping him to see that it does actually have consequences.

  13. Denise said:

    “Keep in mind that love and relationships are not the same thing. If a relationship fails, that doesn’t mean you didn’t love well enough.” This made me pause for a long time. So profound and yet stated so simply. Thank you again for a well-timed article. This one I had to read more than once – many pearls of wisdom here that deserve more consideration. Wow.

    • James Bauer said:

      Glad you liked it, Denise.

  14. Christina said:

    Hi James
    Please accept my apology in advance – this is going to be long.

    Three years ago I met a handsome, dashing, witty, charismatic, sexy, articulate, athletic guy. I had been divorced for 3 years when we met and I was ready to find “the one”. I had one of those “love at first site” experiences where I was immediately convinced that I was supposed to marry this person and grow old with him. He is funny and warm and generous and affectionate. He makes me feel beautiful and sexy and adores me. We have incredible chemistry and our physical relationship is mutually satisfying. He makes my heart jump as much today as it did 3 years ago. He likes to take care of me, fix things, look after me when I am ill, and helps me with my teenagers as needed. We enjoy biking together, we row in a rowing club (which is how we met) and we share a love of fine foods, music, art. So what’s the problem?

    He is going through a long and drawn out divorce. When we met, he told me he was divorcing but still living in the marital home until is sells, but unfortunately it has not sold. He lost his job with a law firm before I met him and he has failed to secure another position. He tried to start up a private law practice but did this half heartedly and does not have any clients who pay fees regularly. He has one son at home in HS and the other is in college. He refuses to move out of his house because that would be leaving his son; his wife will not move out either because she is paying the mortgage. Even if he wanted to, he can not afford to get his own place unless the house sells. He is formerly successful and has this great education, profession, etc. and could have a career again, but has done nothing to get his career on track. He claims he loves me and wants to be with me, but has done nothing to improve his financial situation, facilitate the divorce, and make it happen. I can not understand. He should be pounding the pavement and trying to get his financial stability back, moving out of there and getting his own place, yet he plays house with this lady he does not love, does her laundry and makes her dinner and gives her rides to the airport when she has a business trip, and lets her pay most of the househould expenses…
    I do not approve or condone the way he is conducting his life, and I actually have so much empathy for his wife and her awful situation. She wants him to move out. She screams at him and calls him “loser” and tells him he has ruined her life. He is stuck in this awful rut and does not seem to be capable of lifting himself out of it. He spends a huge amount of his time volunteering and running the crew club where his teen son rows, which is commendable but does not provide a paycheck.

    Enter me – am I crazy? I knew he was separated and living in that house when we met, but I did not know the extent of his career being such a mess. I fell head over heels in love thinking he’s getting a divorce and going to sell the house, and here we are 3 years later with the house not sold, divorce still in process, and he is not fully employed. I have broken up with him at least 4 times in three years, over the same issues. His wife knows he has a GF but he hides me from his kids and his extended family, and from his lifelong friends who know his kids. He was afraid his kids and his family would not approve of us (of course they wouldn’t, right?) He only recently even told his kids that he was dating but did not tell them he has a GF.
    I have dumped him and then I miss him and then I take him back, over and over and over.
    Why? Is he a terrible person and I am blind? Is he a good person who has lost his way and needs help to get back on track? I want him but I can not make a commitment to him as he is, unemployed and living off this woman. He does not even know how he will be living after his divorce. I also made the mistake of loaning him some $$ over a year ago, and now that is between us as well… Help

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Christina. For really lengthy questions like these, we request that you submit the question to our private email consultation service. You can access that here.

  15. Christina said:

    James, I should add that I am 50, but look about 37; I am very successful, highly educated, very attractive, athletic, with a great career in medicine. I don’t need anything from this man except love and companionship. I am financially stable and independent. My ex husband is involved and financially responsible for our kids, and I am what you would term a “great catch”. My friends and family like my BF and yet they don’t understand why I stay with someone who can not commit to me and is not supporting himself. Everyone thinks I can “do better”, but my heart belongs to him… I don’t understand it either. I love him very, very deeply despite his shortcomings and his failure to resurrect his career and extricate himself from this marriage. Help!

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