It’s often worthwhile to try to make a relationship work or save a failing marriage. But sometimes we’re trying so hard to be loved, we lose sight of our true identity and self. We put our relationship, husband or marriage above all else…and we forget who we were created to be.
Are you trying too hard to be loved in a relationship? These three signs will help you see the difference between putting a healthy effort into a relationship or marriage versus losing yourself in a desperate attempt to feel lovable and worthy.
How to Cope When He Says He’s Not in Love With You is one of my most popular articles because we need to love and be loved. We were created for love! And when we lose someone we love — even if the relationship was unhealthy or abusive — we’re devastated. The reason we try so hard to be loved is because we were built for attachment, connection, and togetherness. If you’re trying too hard to be loved in a relationship, you’re normal. But you’re also unhappy.
These signs you’re trying too hard in a relationship are inspired by a woman called Leah. She wasn’t as pretty or admirable as her younger sister Rachel. Leah was older, unloved, unmarried, and unhappy. Rachel was beautiful, healthy, and adventurous. She was the first woman shepherdess in the Bible!
Rachel didn’t have to try hard to be loved. She didn’t even have to look for a relationship; Jacob found and almost immediately fell in love with her. Leah, on the other hand, tried hard to be loved but was dismissed and discarded.
If you feel the same way — you’re trying too hard to be loved in a relationship, yet you’re constantly dismissed and discarded — you’ve come to the right place.
3 Signs You’re Trying Too Hard to Be Loved
The names Rachel, Leah, and Jacob may sound familiar to you because they were real people living in ancient Israel. They were Hebrews, part of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah’s clan. This article is part of my She Blossoms Through the Bible project; it’s inspired by Genesis 29. In this chapter Jacob marries both Leah and Rachel. He loved and desperately wanted to marry the beautiful (but barren) Rachel.
Leah, on the other hand, was unloved and unwanted. Jacob only married her because her father Laban tricked him. Leah tried hard to be loved by Jacob…for nothing. All her efforts to entice and attract and make Jacob fall in love with her failed. If Leah had access to the internet, she would’ve asked “am I trying too hard to be loved in a relationship?”
And she would’ve found these three signs that, yes, she was trying too hard to make her marriage work. Leah’s feelings of desperation, unworthiness, and unlovability were based on what other people thought of her. And that is the first sign of a woman who is trying too hard to be loved.
1. You base your self-worth and value on the opinion of others
Genesis 29 gives us a brief description of Leah and Rachel. Leah was the unmarried older sister, and there was something physically distinct about her eyes. It wasn’t just poor vision; her eyes were observably different in some way. Perhaps they were uneven, unmatched in color, crossed or protruding. Leah’s younger sister Rachel didn’t just have beautiful eyes, she also had a great body. Rachel was the first shepherdess in the Bible, which tells us that she’s adventurous, courageous, fit and healthy. She was willing to step into a man’s job. In fact, that’s how she met Jacob — by being adventurous, courageous, fit and healthy! Good lesson there for another time.
How does your appearance affect your self-worth and identity? Leah grew up thinking she wasn’t as good, beautiful, or valuable as Rachel. I believe that’s why she tried too hard in her relationship. She desperately wanted to be loved by Jacob because she had low self-worth. Do you feel unlovable, unworthy, or even ugly? If so, you’re basing your identity on what people think or tell you. This is a sign you’re trying too hard to be loved in a relationship: you don’t feel good enough. You don’t know how to get the love you want, so you do everything you can to be lovable and worthy. You may even do things that make you feel embarrassed, guilty, or ashamed.
2. You’re staying in an unhealthy or abusive relationship
Leah’s father Laban thought the only way to ensure marriage was to trick Jacob into sleeping with her. Read Genesis 29:21-28 for the details — it’s juicy good stuff! But the sad bottom line is that not only did Leah find herself in a relationship with a man who didn’t love her, she was forced to stay married. Hebrew women in ancient Middle Eastern times didn’t have social assistance, paid work, education, or the internet to rustle up an online job on the side. Jacob was Leah’s only hope. She may even have loved him. She tried hard to be loved in that relationship, having baby after baby, always hoping it would make Jacob love her.
How are you trying too hard to be loved in your relationship? Maybe you’re doing what Leah did: getting pregnant so the man you love doesn’t leave you. This is a sign you’re trying too hard to be loved. Maybe you’ve given up your friends, family, self-respect, dignity, money, career, pets, or even your children. The fact that you’re here, reading these signs of trying too hard in a relationship, means you’re giving something up. You’re making sacrifices to save your marriage or keep a man in your life…and is it worth it?
3. You can’t envision a new identity for yourself
I have no idea how much choice Leah truly had, and it’s fruitless to debate whether she “should have” kept trying to win Jacob’s love. The fact is that she stayed with him and she kept trying hard to be loved. She couldn’t envision a new life for herself. She was Jacob’s first wife, Rachel’s unlovable older sister, Laban’s worthless daughter.
Leah was born into these specific circumstances for a reason. God had a plan, and Leah was part of it. Judah, Leah’s last son! This Hebrew word means praise — which means Leah found a way to praise God despite her unhappy marriage. She referred to God several times in Genesis 29, always mentioning Him in relation to her sons. Her youngest boy Judah was the beginning of the royal tribe, a nation from which Jesus the Messiah would come. God gave Leah her identity and purpose…and it wasn’t because she tried hard in a relationship. She was already loved by Him.
How open are you to a new identity? If you’re trying too hard to be loved, it’s because your relationship or marriage isn’t working. You’re half of that partnership, which means you have some power over how it’ll unfold. Your first step is to look at your self-identity, and then ask how willing you are to change how you see yourself. If you base your identity on something other than your relationship, marriage, boyfriend or husband you won’t have to try so hard to be loved! You will find a new purpose, a new source of love, and a new way to live.
May you find insight and strength as you look at your self and your relationship. May you see the signs you’re trying too hard to be loved, may you gain insight and clarity. I pray for healing. I pray for more hope and faith. I pray that you turn to God the Father and accept the love Jesus wants to pour into your heart and life. May you become the woman He created you to be, by accepting the love He so freely gives.
Your thoughts — big and little — are welcome below!
With His love,
P.S. Are you struggling to make a decision or find the right path in your life? Read an Easy Way to Stop Overthinking God’s Will for Your Life.