Should Someone Have To MAKE You Feel Loved?

"I can't make you love me, if you don't."Bonnie Raitt (and Tank)

Love & Relationships

For about a week now, I've been been bumpin' Stephanie Mills's "Something in the Way You Make Me Feel" pretty heavily. First of all, sis can sang and definitely could still school a few folks in the industry about why sometimes "sing" gets an "a" instead of an "i". Second, I remember that video being pretty dope, in a timeless kind of way. (And her body is killin' it in that black dress and white top and pants.) Third, if you're not even remotely familiar with the tune and you're at a place where you can't click on the hyperlink right now—here's the first verse:

I've been up and I've been down/Until you helped me put my feet on solid ground/I've been rich and I've been poor/Then you showed me that there's so much more/Than the rat race and the fast pace/Could ever offer me/When I look back, baby/You've always been there for me

From there, the hook says, "Something in the way you make me feel," a few times, and she ends the chorus with a word that is poignant for today's article. She doesn't say that her man makes her feel loved. No, what she declares is that her man makes her feel good---real good, in fact. The difference between the two is what makes some relationships healthy (ie. "The Right Relationship IMPROVES Not CHANGES You" and "If He's Right For You, He Will COMPLEMENT Your Life") or not-so-healthy---even needy, to tell you the truth. You ready?

The Subtle Unhealthiness of Wanting Someone to 'Make' You Feel Loved


Just the other day, I not-so-randomly ran into a young woman with some of her family members. We had never met before but ended up striking up a convo while I was sitting at a friend's mall kiosk. Anyway, as we got deeper and deeper into our convo, the young lady mentioned that she was in her early 20s and had been married for a couple of years. She and her husband had dated for several years before marrying, but they were still going through some major adjusting as a married couple. One thing that got on her nerves was that she is much clearer about her life's purpose than her husband. She also admitted that she is a control freak (but that's another article for another time.)

As she aired out some of her frustration and asked my opinion (I mentioned that I was a marriage life coach), I said, "That's why I'm not big on people getting married until a man knows what he was put on this planet to do." A college-aged male? While there are certainly exceptions, that is typically the time when they should be figuring all of that out with as little distractions as possible. (This is why I don't think women should put pressure on themselves to "find a husband" during that season of their lives either.) For me, the foundation of a lot of how I see things in life is the Bible. Genesis 2:18 defines women as being helpers--- warriors and lifesavers if you want to get real specific. How can we fully support a man, in the intimate and lasting way that a wife does, when he has no clue what he's doing—or wants to do—with his life?

I just recently saw one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. It's called Honey Boy. In it, actor Shia LaBeouf is playing his own real-life abusive father. (Shia is definitely an acting force to be reckoned with; his freestyle flow is pretty sick too).

A line from it that stayed with me is, "A seed must totally destroy itself in order to become a flower." A lot of us women try to "make a man a flower", rather than giving him the time and space to be a seed, totally alter himself, become a flower and then help him, as a "flower"—as the man he was designed to me—to thrive.

Believe you me, y'all, I have been the woman who has tried to nurture far too many "man seeds" that were both emotionally unavailable and immature. While those guys were "destroying themselves" in order to become better, oftentimes their own mental and even spiritual upheavals ended up harming me in the process. Yeah, I know that was a little on the poetic side of things, but I hope you still got where I was coming from. If you want to be in a healthy, stable and consistent relationship, date less "seeds" and be open to more "flowers". Not doing this is a huge mistake that I think a lot of us make in the pursuit of love.

Know what another one is? Thinking that it's a man's job to "make us" feel loved. Whew. I can't tell you how many times a woman has told me that a relationship has come to an end—usually a pretty bitter end, at that—and it's all because a man didn't make her feel loved. It's no secret that I strive to be pretty word-specific, so whenever I hear that, my immediate reaction is, "Is that a man's job? Should anyone MAKE you feel loved?" Whenever I ask someone that out loud, they tend to look at me like I'm crazy, mixed with a bit of patronization. The way they see it, of course, he should. Me? Not so much.

Personally, there are only two people who I think should make us feel loved and that's because they are our first introduction to a human form of love; that would be our parents. When they jack that up, that speaks volumes into why a lot of us spend the result of our lives looking for other people to do it. But by the time we start to entertain romantic relationships, there really should be such a self-love within us that we're not looking for them to make us feel like we're loved.

Because, when we already love ourselves, other people tend to reflect back to us what we already feel. While it's nice to be loved by them, we don't really need it; we appreciate it, we enjoy it, it feels awesome…but if they left, we know we'd be alright. Love was there before they arrived, so we know that love will still exist should they ever go.

A good example of someone who I think has this concept down pretty well is YouTuber StarPuppy. She's wacky. She's quirky. She's hilarious. She also seems to have grown up with a family who taught her about love. (She actually says so in this video). Her ability to be unapologetically wacky, quirky, and hilarious is seamless, but just think what she would be like if she didn't love herself---if she looked for guys to make her feel loved. If the guy had enough influence over her, he could probably convince her that her personality wasn't appealing, that her humor was corny. and, quite possibly, that she should stop doing all of her fabulous natural hair and random-musing posts.

That's why I said in the article "What Loving Yourself Actually Looks Like" that people who love themselves move differently. When you, on your own, are all about things like self-care, enjoying alone time, embracing your strengths, not needing a relationship to fill any voids and celebrating yourself—you don't need any outside sources or forces to make you feel loved. Make means "to bring into existence". People who love themselves don't need anyone to bring into existence what already, well, exists. So yeah, if a relationship comes to an end, it should be because someone didn't "bring love into existence" for you. That is giving them way too much power. It should be because they didn't reflect what already exists and they didn't do enough of what Ms. Stephanie sang about.

A Man Making You Feel Good Is Much Different than a Man Making You Feel Loved


God is love (I John 4:8&16). If you believe in a higher power and that God created you, then you automatically come from love. Prayerfully, your parents echoed that sentiment and raised you in an environment of love but, even if they didn't, you still have the ability to learn how to love yourself—to self-nurture in such a way where you're not out here looking for someone to teach you about how to love yourself. Real talk, I think that's why a lot of us are single much longer than we'd like to be. It's because God, the source of love, knows that we need some time to learn how to love ourselves so that the "wrong teachers" won't come along and totally alter the way He wants us to see ourselves. He knows that if we allow Him to teach us about self-love, we'll recognize, rather quickly, when someone is coming into our lives to manipulate our own definition of love or when they're coming along to intensify the feelings of love that we already have for ourselves.

That's why I dig Stephanie Mills's song so much. If all of us were back in high school English class, we'd probably be taught that an interjection definition of the word "good" is "an exclamation of approval, agreement, pleasure, etc."

Stephanie wasn't exclaiming that her man makes her feel like she is loved—which usually actually translates into being worthy of love. Nope. She said her man exclaims that he approves of how she loves herself, that he's in agreement with how she loves herself, that he brings pleasure to the love that she has for herself. He makes her feel good not loved. See how powerful that is?

Back in the day, Bonnie Raitt's song "I Can't Make You Love Me" used to almost crush me. Don't get me wrong. It's still one of my favorite songs ever, but on this side of self-love and self-awareness, I hear it very differently. When she—or Tank because he did a cool cover of it, too—earnestly sings, "I can't make you love me if you don't. You can't make the heart feel something it won't," I used to hear that a man was choosing to deem me unlovable even though I so desperately wanted his love. I now hear, "I can't make you see in me what I see. And ninja, that's OK." And I mean that. There is so much love already here that I don't need him to hold me one more night. Actually, I'd rather have him out of the way so that the man who is excited about my self-love can come along.

Y'all, please get how profound that is—to want a man who is drawn to how you love yourself and then desires to celebrate that right along with you? That beats looking for a man to make you feel like you are worthy of love by a long shot. Use this very precious time to get to that point and place so that you can see a true "love cheerleader" rather than "love manipulator" a mile away.

So no, I don't think that a man should make a woman feel loved. That is God's and that woman's responsibility. If a man wants to come into said woman's life to embrace, esteem, and encourage the self-love along the way—by all means, brotha…do that.

I'm gonna hop off of here, play Stephanie's song once more and go on about my day. It feels good to know that I don't need a man to make me feel loved. Now that you see why I say that…how about you, sis?

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

My Eureka Moment For Why I'm Not Into 'Nice Guys'

Why We Love Men Who Are Absolutely No Good For Us

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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