This post was updated on February 23rd, 2022.
How do you love someone when it’s tough to do so?
I thought long and hard about how to answer. In truth, we meet people who rub us the wrong way. Most incidents are easily resolved, some are never resolved and then there are those people we love even when it is a challenge.
How To Love People Who Are Hard To Love
It is hard to be in the company of a person who is hard to love. We have immediate family members, in-laws, friends, and co-workers whose company we keep for personal reasons or because we cannot cut them out of our lives. We also have people thrust upon us. So how do we hang in for better or for worse? We learn to compromise, which can pay off.
1. Think First About Your Feelings
This is not a selfish decision. It is impossible to show meaningful love to a difficult person until you come to terms with your feelings. You know that we all have our perspectives and needs, which may not necessarily match the needs of others.
Nevertheless, I have continued to show love to someone who is hard to love not only for myself but for all concerned. After the age of 50, it is time to be good to yourself. Above all, you want to figure out a way to feel rewarded rather than frustrated.
2. Display Empathy
Emotional intelligence pays off. Remember, no one is perfect. I put myself in the other person’s shoes. Maybe that individual is having a difficult day. Perhaps the person has a problem in their life. Maybe I am having a negative effect on them and oftentimes they are just plain difficult, yet still worthy of love.
3. Challenge Instead of Judging
Don’t judge or be quick to blame. Have a heart-to-heart or several heart-to-heart conversations. It is certainly not in the best interest of any individual to be judgmental, especially when you are trying to love someone who is hard to love. But it is wise and necessary to challenge the actions of that person. Don’t pretend. Be upfront. Bring the problem to the surface. They will oftentimes respect you if you do it kindly and with resolve.
4. Set Your Boundaries
When you realize the problems are about them, darling, take the driver’s seat, and set boundaries. There are degrees of love. Maybe you should keep this relationship at bay. Loving someone does not mean you have to be in their daily life. Loving someone does not mean you have to be their closest friend.
5. Show Forgiveness
Your ability to love someone when it is hard to do so is in your best interest. Learn to forgive, as your emotional and physical health comes first. When you harbor anger, you suffer.
Different Reasons People Are Tough To Love
There are times when walking away sets you both free. Dear reader, this is another form of loving someone who is hard to love. There are times we walk away because loving that person is not meant to be, under any circumstances. That is called loving ourselves. This practice is necessary and healthy. However, for the most part, there is a piece of everyone, even the most difficult individuals, that we can find a reason to love.
I remember receiving a note from a woman who could not get along with her daughter-in-law. She told me she had exhausted all avenues and asked me for my advice. I remember my answer, “Make friends with the other mother-in-law.” When family problems arise, you oftentimes have to be creative with your approach. The last thing you want to do is become estranged, given your son, the grandchildren, and the entire family.
My College Experience
A good person can be hard to love when you do not have anything in common. I sat next to a girl in a college class. She would never choose me as a friend. I would never choose her. But, we wound up becoming best friends. We found a common thread. She took perfect notes. I graduated from Kankakee by the Sea High School and I was not prepared for college. One day, I leaned over to her and asked her if she would teach me how to take notes. She said yes. One day she asked me, “Would you teach me how to use make-up and buy the right clothes?” I said yes! We realized we were in sync in more ways than teaching one another how to take note and dress; we soon became close friends.
Loving Someone Can be Tough But…
You lose touch with friends who mattered to you in your earlier life. You meet one day and want to reconnect. It can be tough because years have passed and you have both changed. However, you still have one thing in common: the fun pastimes you shared together. These talks will bring back wonderful memories and you can go from there. Suddenly, you may find it is not tough to love your friend after all.
Loving someone can be tough for a multitude of reasons–and tough on you as well. I believe in giving these difficult situations a chance by looking for the silver lining in all people. Dear reader, more often than not, you will find it.
Have you ever been in a situation where it is tough to love someone? Let me know in the comments at the bottom of this page. Let’s discuss!
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Thanks for the advice. The hard part of learning to love is when it’s a family member. I ask myself if we had the same parents. I feel that growing up without love is hard to learn as an adult. My family lives in the past.
Sometimes it’s too easy not to see the trees for the forest. Thank you for this companion piece to “How to handle your adult children’s disapproval”.
You are more than welcome. Once you come to terms that you have to ‘accept’ certain situations the faster you will feel peace come over your body. Warmly, Honey
I really enjoyed this reading, I read it aloud to my husband and we had a great discussion about our family members whom we’ve tried over and over again to reconnect with but to no avail. I have to set boundaries for my emotional health And to protect my family from my disappointments and all the emotions that apply during these attempts.
You have tried. They disappointed and rejected your positives approaches. I have been there. I took the high road for two years. I was so sad that she would not reconcile. One day I walked through a labyrinth on top of a mountain overlooking the Pacific Ocean. My husband and I were at a Spa. When I entered the labyrinth I had no idea what I wanted to think about. As I started my walk, out of the blue, I answered my own question about the relationship and decided it was time to ACCEPT what I couldn’t change. I had done my best. I felt such relief. After the walk the guide told me to put my hand into a darkly colored bag and pick out a stone. I did. The stone was engraved with the word, accept! The stone sits in a special spot that I see several times a day. You have tried your best. Accept. Warmly, Honey
This piece was so timely for me. My husband and I relocated from the Philadelphia area five 1/2 years ago to live closer to our son in the West. Recently, I called my brother-in-law in Pennsylvania, and was blindsided when he spoke to me bitterly and cruelly. I had been calling to tell him that my husband and I would be returning East to take care of my mother-in-law for a three-month period. I expected a positive reception. Instead I was told that my husband and I were selfish because we had not returned in the January/February time period to care for her. I’ve since found that my brother-in-law had received news the very day of the phone call that his wife has colon cancer and would need surgery. While I still don’t feel that his treatment of me was warranted, I now know that he was lashing out at the universe in anger, and I have resolved to forgive him.
Thanks a million for this amazing article. I always felt bad for how I treated my grandma just because she has this tendency of thinking of the worst case scenario about future events. It really bothered me until I started keeping a huge distance so that I won’t start negatively. I know she is that way because of her past and old age but it was difficult for me to accept how scared she gets about things are less probable to happen or how she judges others negatively with just mere assumptions. When I read the article, I put myself in her shoes and found out that her main reason of being like that is because of being cautious about her loved ones including me. She is being careful not to het me and others in troubles or traps. I knew this before but it was hidden in my mind’s back ground. I’ll hold onto this reason to love her just as much as she loves me. Thanks for helping me out!!
I just love what you wrote. Now you get it; you understand love is shown in many different ways. I am happy for you. Warmly, Honey
I love this person so much it hurts. I think about her a lot. Everything was all good until recently. All that changed. She gets upset at the slightest thing I do. We used to talk like everyday but now we barely. I have tried on several occasions to win her heart back but it’s getting harder and harder. I chest hurt just from thinking about how I have lost her. I am fighting everyday to let her go because I never thought we would end up like this. I have experienced heart breaks but never hurt this much. It’s hard to love her and if I could get someone to reach out to her for me would have been a blessing but I don’t know at this point.
I am so sorry I am late getting back to you. Maybe by this time you and your friend have healed the relationship. I do hope so. If not, I suggest you join a woman’s group of some type. A group that you would enjoy. A church group? a workout group? a gardening group, photography group, a wine tasting group? Women need women and there are a lot of women looking for new found friends. Move on. Do your homework. Remember: nothing good happens by accident. You have to make it happen. I know you will. Warmly, Honey
Such a beautiful article! ❤️ I found it when I was looking for advice on how to love my MIL better. Many years ago we moved very far away (5hr flight) because of my job and I think she still harbors a lot of anger towards me for taking her son “away.” I also have two small children which are her only grandchildren. We fly “home” to stay with her at least 3x’s a year and have a guest room to warmly welcome her to whenever she visits us but it doesn’t seem to be enough to make her stop lashing out on me. I love my husband more then I ever knew possible and so I’ve learned to stop commenting when she lashes out at me because I don’t want to put him in the middle like that. I also decided that should she pass away before me one day he would have a harder time turning to me for comfort if he thought I never loved his mom. I try so very hard to always be kind and loving towards her, never complain about her but the more I do that, the more obvious it becomes that she is angry and maybe bitter. It’s hard to not feel like it’s all my fault. I also know that I never want to keep her from her grandchildren so I try to facilitate time for her to be with them without me. Im learning to let her talk and speak her mind but just listen and nod. I wish so badly we could have a better relationship that’s more loving and intimate.
Such a beautiful article! ❤️ I found it when I was looking for advice on how to love my MIL better. Many years ago we moved very far away (5hr flight) because of my job and I think she still harbors a lot of anger towards me for taking her son “away.” I also have two small children which are her only grandchildren. We fly “home” to stay with her at least 3x’s a year and have a guest room to warmly welcome her to whenever she visits us but it doesn’t seem to be enough to make her stop lashing out on me. I love my husband more then I ever knew possible and so I’ve learned to stop commenting when she lashes out at me because I don’t want to put him in the middle like that. I also decided that should she pass away before me one day he would have a harder time turning to me for comfort if he thought I never loved his mom. I try so very hard to always be kind and loving towards her, never complain about her but the more I do that, the more obvious it becomes that she is angry and maybe bitter. It’s hard to not feel like it’s all my fault. I also know that I never want to keep her from her grandchildren so I try to facilitate time for her to be with them without me. Im learning to let her talk and speak her mind but just listen and nod. I wish so badly we could have a better relationship that’s more loving and intimate. 😢
You are special. Stay just as you are by taking the high road. I have a feeling by letting her speak her mind while you listen you will eventually earn many times over her respect and love. You are a very wise wife, too. Warmly, Honey
Thank you for your advice. What do you do if it’s a family member that is a bad mood most days, gets defensive and angry easily? How do I still love and be kind without giving into a pity party or feeling tense around this person?
This is difficult for you. If this person has always been this way, it is what it is.You will have to decide what you want to do on a personal level. If this is something new, delve in and search out the cause and then have a positive conversation but with calm authority. State your mind. Be open about how you are feeling, no holes bared. Also, tell the person you will help him or her if the person is willing to help themself. If they are not, you will have to make a personal decision about leaving the relationship to preserve your happiness. Remember, you are empowered and you count. Warmly, Honey Wishing you a happy New Year in 2022.
I really need to learn this. I’m going to look for reading material for this. Thx
You are so welcome. So, very welcome. Warmly, Honey
There are definitely people who are hard to love and I have several in my family. Accepting each one for who they are in my life, and praying for them helps me. When I “love my neighbor as myself” as Jesus taught,
That helps me accept them. I have begun to realize that all of us have “soft spots” that are sensitive. We all need forgiveness.
You are right! Love your message to me. Warmly, Honey
Great. Thanks for sharing such great 5 ways
My pleasure! Warmly, Honey