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Loving Who They Are vs. Loving For What They Do For You


I am just one of your regular guys out there, but I have seen and experienced a number of relationships that have displayed the nature of major dynamic themes in relationship and what seems to work best. So, I want to share what I’ve observed about loving someone for who they are over loving someone for what they do for you. One is obviously going to be healthier, in my opinion, as one causes hurt/suffering and the other causes completeness, wholeness, and centered-ness in both individuals in the relationship.

Loving For What They Do For You

I would like to think that most people don’t actually want this kind of relationship. What ends up happening, though, from what I’ve experienced, is that we fall into a sweet song of the other. They play a nice tune to get us going or into believing they want the same things we want: to support each other, to be there for each other, and to be a loving co-op; and it seems to work for a while. What I’ve noticed, though, is that one or the other tends to behave the opposite of what they say. As in, they don’t practice what they preach.

This love becomes very conditional in nature and often feels like a job review, for example, “Well, if you can’t do for me what I want you to do, you’re fired. I’ll find someone else.” You’re trapped, though, because you became emotionally invested, and thus we keep letting ourselves get manipulated, used, and possessed in this relationship, because we are afraid of losing that person we care about.

That, and we don’t want to admit to ourselves that we messed up and take responsibility for the fact that we just gave that other person too much of our trust. Let me tell you a little secret though: you aren’t alone. There are very intelligent people in this world who are fooled by manipulators.

Loving others for what they do for you is not the basis for a healthy relationship. It’s fine if you and the other agree that is all you want from each other. I am not saying it doesn’t work, if that is what it is agreed on (It won’t work out in the long run, as once your usefulness runs out, it’s ABANDON SHIP). In fact, it isn’t loving someone at all; it becomes just a transaction. 


When you love someone only for what they do for you, you damage another human being because you manipulate them to get what you want. What makes this love any different than, for an extreme example, a human trafficker? You only love conditionally and you use them for things that you don’t feel you can get on your own. Treating others like possessions, or a coat you can put on, leads to another human being suffering. It may feel “good” at the time, but it would be wise to consider what negative impressions you are leaving another human being with; especially if you date or are in a relationship with someone just to get some kind of prestige or “badge” of honor to YOUR IMAGE. That is just being selfish at the expense of another perfectly made human being.

Here are a few things I’ve picked up as red flags to look for myself when confronted by someone regarding what their actual motives are:

  • What is their behavior around me? (notice how I don’t pay heed to what they say as much as to how they act.)
  • When they text or call to meet up, what are the majority of the calls about?
  • What exactly are they trying to get out of me?
  • Are they considerate of my time?
  • Do they understand the value of other people’s time and that everything doesn’t revolve around what they want?

Loving Someone for Who They Are

A person who really loves you is someone who is there through thick and thin. Those are the refreshing souls that I recommend to myself as much as possible. These are the people that will text me randomly in the week asking how I am doing or want to get tea with me for the sake of talking and catching up (not because they want me to buy them tea, but because they like having me around). Oh, and did I mention they actually follow through with it?

Their words match their behavior. They are consistent, observant, mindful, and can listen without judgment.

Not that judgment never happens, they can suspend long enough to have compassion and empathy for me and can still have a clarity to give me their truth in a matter. I have a lot of loving people in my life that are like this (including my older brother who I meet up with every Friday) and are not interested in what I can give them, but rather want me to be around because they enjoy me for who I am.

I also find that a lot of people that I love and put a lot of trust into don’t necessarily have the same views as me in a lot of different areas, from relationships, religion, career, etc., but we all get along harmoniously because our relationship isn’t based around image or how other people see us or about pushing our own views onto each other.

Some Final Words on Loving

Our value does not have to come from how others observe, judge, or otherwise draw conclusions about us. We don’t live in their world and that is their sin to work through. We have no control over that and we are not going to please everyone with the way we live our life. If you are giving your power over to someone (a parent, authority figure, religious leader) based on their judgment on how you should live your life… well I would think you might never find true contentment within yourself. Living for someone else isn’t fun and I don’t recommend it.

That isn’t to say that you ought not be mindful of what other people say, but ask yourself, “what are they trying to get out of me by saying this?” This has usually allowed me to clearly discern if it is loving advice or if the other is just making a stab at controlling me based on what image of theirs they want me to fall into. Often times, what others say has more to do with their struggle than it actually have to do with you, so try not to take what others say too personally (I know this is not completely avoidable.)

If it’s the latter, gently smile, let it go, and let them deal with that part of them. They may throw a tantrum but you know what? We don’t always get what we want and you can’t force someone to live how you want them to live. Letting go and giving up control is one of the hardest things to do but it is worth it. You not only free yourself, but you free the other to connect with you out of love, and not out of fear and suffering.


top image cred: tele chhe

middle image cred: muffintop04

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