The Problem with Loving People

1:06 AM

People just need love, right? You see someone hurting, and all you need to do is give them a huge hug, shower them with kind words, and maybe send them a little chocolate. Problem solved. They feel loved now.

Except that's not how it works.

Some people on some occasions just need love. Some people just need a kind word and a hug to brighten their day. When I'm stormy about stress, a little perspective, a back rub, and a rallying battle cry to paper writing means the world.

Lately, I've realized how much more complicated people are than I want them to be. Friends who struggle with suicide and depression. Friends who walk around campus lonely. Single people who want a special someone. They all need love...but not just love. They need certain people to love them.

And I'm not always that person.

I can give advice. I can't always be there 24/7 for every problem. I can be kind. I can't be everyone's best friend. I can go out of my way to do something. I can't drop everything every time.

I say that not because I don't want to be everybody's best friend or mentor or big sister. It just doesn't work. Sometimes I pour myself into people, and they still don't feel amazingly loved. They still feel lonely. They still want a best friend or a significant other. They still want their relationship with their parents to heal. They still need their own group.

I can give love here and there. But I cannot meet everyone's need to be loved. I cannot be that person for anyone and everyone...and most times, I can only be that person for a select few people.

I've realized this mostly because I'm on the other side this time. I am the lonely one. I am the one craving love. I am the student walking around tired and sad and missing people. It's not that I don't have friends. It's not that I'm unloved. I am very loved. But being loved and feeling loved are two different things. Having friends and having friends are two different things.

"Just find new friends," I'm told. Yes, I can, but they don't replace my best friends, the ones I love most. "Just accept love from everyone." But it's different accepting kind people's encouragement and being loved by the people you love most. They're both kinds of love, but one meets a more temporary need...the other sustains you.

This is the mystery of friendship, of intimacy: not everyone's love means the same thing or meets the same needs as everybody else's. Sister love means more to me than friendship. My boyfriend's kind words mean more to me than any other guy's. My roommate's back rubs and laughter and confidentiality mean more to me than the best masseuse's, comedian's, or counselor's.

Ironically, this doesn't discourage me from loving and accepting love. It relieves me. It allows me to send a quick Facebook message to a hurting person without feeling compelled to become her private counselor. It allows me to give my full focus and attention in the moment without fear of being sucked into too much drama all at once. It allows me to come up with practical ways to love people in the more temporary, passing way of a person who isn't their best friend or mom or boyfriend. I can love people better now that I know how people give and receive love.

Like I said, this whole friendship/intimacy thing becomes so tricky and complicated. It becomes harder to make a super deep impact for a long period of time on a large number of people. But I can make small impacts here and there...enough impacts, I hope, to drive them to seek the Source of All Love.

Which is something I need to do as well.

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6 impressions

  1. Some good insights here about different kinds of love and how you can't be everything to all people.

    I am sorry to hear you are feeling lonely. Sadly, I am one of those people who can post an encouraging comment and maybe send you a virtual hug and that's about it. I am not one of the people who can be "that person" for you. If it helps, your post reminded me to be sure I am giving all the love I can to the people in my life for whom I am "that person", as well as to continue trying to act with compassion and kindness to everyone.



  2. i think it's in our nature, our personalities to feel this way. to want to be everything, for everyone, all at once. we pour and pour and pour, and sometimes, like you said, we just have to realize we can't always be everything for everybody in the way they need.

    love you!!

  3. Thank you so much for this. I've always tried to be there for everyone, but that normally results in me not being able to be completely there for anyone. This is a wonderful reminder to keep giving love anyway but not trying to be everyone's one love.


  4. Great thoughts and insight. Gives a different perspective and a better way to look at things. I am a drop everything and give 100% to anyone kind of a person but because of that part of my personality, I hope that others will do that for me...but as you said, no one can really do that in all honesty. So I need to drop love as I walk along this road and received it as I go. Thanks for writing this.


  5. Wow, that was really insightful. I sometimes feel guilty about feeling lonely and unloved because I am literally surrounded by people who love me...but I'm longing for that certain one; that special someone whose love alone can touch the deepest part of me.
    So I can't love-love everyone...and I don't need to. They're in God's hands.

  6. Sadly, I have found, that I often turn to my friendships, instead of seeking out the best friend one could ever have - Jesus.

    Sometimes He is who our friends need, and it's hard to say that to them, because we want to feel needed, useful.


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