If I Love You, Do I Have To Be Your Doormat? – Top Ten #10

If I Love You, Do I Have to Be Your Doormat? – Top Ten #10  

Greg answers the question, "So does loving people unconditionally obligate me to do what they want and be a doormat?"  


If You Really Loved Me, You Would Be My Doormat

The other day I received this question by email, “Real Love sounds wonderful, but if you really love somebody unconditionally don't you have to do whatever they want, and doesn't that make you kind of like a doormat?". 

The answer is no, but it's understandable that you would ask because many people want you to believe that loving them would mean giving them everything they ask you for. You'll actually hear people say, “If you really loved me, you would (fill in the blank)”. And they strongly emphasize that statement with their behavior—whining, sulking, intimidating, and the like—If you really loved me, you would whatever. But it's all a lie, unconsciously told by people who are empty and afraid in order to get what they want.

Real Love vs the World's View of Love

So to put us back on track, let's review again the definition of Real Love: caring about the happiness of another person without wanting anything for ourselves in return. Now let's suppose that I love a man named Frank, which means that I care about him. Happiness doesn't mean we're partners. It just means I care about him. You and I know that genuine happiness comes from telling the truth about ourselves, feeling unconditionally loved, loving other people unconditionally, and being responsible. So if I love Frank, if I care about his genuine happiness, I would be willing to do what I can to help Frank accomplish those activities or traits because they lead to happiness. That is loving.

Frank also believes that my loving him means caring about his happiness, but the problem arises with Frank's definition of happiness. Frank believes, as most of the world does, that happiness means having enough excitement, comfort, ease, satisfaction, pleasure, power, approval, control, and on and on. In Frank's world, if I care about his happiness, if I love him, I will always give him any excitement, comfort, and pleasure he demands. I will be essentially his servant, his doormat.

But in the world of truth and Real Love, we know that these things, excitement, and power, for example, often actually detract from genuine happiness. So if I really care about him, I will specifically not grant his request for those things that could harm him.

When It Can Be Loving to Say "No"

So get this. It can actually be loving to say no to some requests or demands. A drug addict, for example, might request that I give him money for drugs and he would likely say that I was unloving to refuse him. But that would actually be the most loving thing for me to do. What if Frank demands something from me that would be good for him. Like spending time with him. If I'm loving, would I then be obligated to do that again? No, in Real Love, we give freely, not from a sense of obligation. We give as much love as we are capable of giving and as much as we choose to give.

If I'm not in a place to give what he asks, for whatever reason I'm physically tired or emotionally tired or I just don't feel like it, what would happen if I gave in and did what Frank wanted anyway? At least two consequences would be pretty uniform. First, although Frank might enjoy my filling his request, to some extent, he would almost certainly sense my reluctance. We can smell that feeling a mile away. In that case, he would not feel loved unconditionally. So what good would I really be doing him? It would not be a genuinely loving act on my part and he'd know it.

Second, as I give of myself beyond what I freely choose, my stores of Real Love, the real thing, tend to rapidly empty out. I become less able to love Frank and anyone else. In that case, I harm myself and make myself less capable of helping anybody else. So loving beyond our capabilities usually harms us and doesn't help other people. It's not genuinely loving. And for that reason saying no to the requests of others is often a loving response in Real Love. You're never a doormat.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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