Is it good to be loved for what you do, instead of who you are?

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Is it good to be loved for what you do, instead of who you are?

Post by reboundstudent on Fri Mar 18, 2016 5:51 pm


I see a lot in relationship advice about being the type of partner someone wants to be with by doing things for them; being supportive, helping them out, getting them gifts, easing their burdens, and so on.

Is it a bad thing if that's the primary reason someone loves you? That you do things for them? That it isn't about who you are as a person, but what you offer them? Or is love for a partner usually based on the effort and length they go to take care of your needs, as opposed to who they are themselves?
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Re: Is it good to be loved for what you do, instead of who you are?

Post by Wondering on Fri Mar 18, 2016 6:05 pm

Are these qualities so easily separable? When I think about what I love about my husband, I love him for himself, but part of himself is what he does for me. If you took out what he does for me, he'd be a different person.

Am I misunderstanding what you're asking?

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Re: Is it good to be loved for what you do, instead of who you are?

Post by Werel on Fri Mar 18, 2016 6:07 pm

scratch I'm having trouble separating out "who you are" from "what you do." Do I love my partner because he is smart, or because he says smart things? Do I love him because he is generous, or because he does generous things? Most personal characteristics are only perceptible/expressible through actions and behaviors, so it's tough to pull them apart.

On the other hand, there are ways to be nice to a partner that may be nice, but don't speak to underlying qualities/tendencies that light that partner's heart on fire. Anybody can give gifts; many people can ease some sort of burden; if someone's particular way of doing these things isn't special or endearing or important to you, though, it's probably not a great foundation for a romantic relationship.
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Re: Is it good to be loved for what you do, instead of who you are?

Post by Enail on Fri Mar 18, 2016 6:13 pm

Interesting question! I'd see it more as, you love them for who they are, with how they treat you/what they do for you being one expression of who they are. Which is not all that clearcut, but I think there's a line between love and 'they do nice things for me' somewhere around if you would like anyone else who did the same nice things for you equally much.

I'd also say that there's a component of relationships that's about the relationship between you rather than about the people in it or their love for each other. For example, if I'm really stressed out or in a bad mood, I'm prone to getting snappish. That's normally within the range of 'everyone has flaws,' I try to keep it in check, and and it's something my wife can accept at that degree. But if I got so stressed out or in such a bad mood for such a long time that 'snappish Enail' was the person she could expect to be getting every day for the foreseeable future, I would be a pretty horrible person to be in a relationship with. I don't think it would stop her loving me, the part that's about who I am, but the part about what I do and how I treat her would make it not be a good relationship regardless of who I am or how much she loves me.

And then, to take it a step further, if things got to that point and she told me how much I was hurting her and  I refused to do anything about it to stop treating her so badly, then the 'who I am' part would come back into the picture - at that point, who I am would be someone who will knowingly treat the person I love badly, which might change how she would feel about me. She loves me, but the me that she loves is a person who tries to be kind and caring to her.

So I guess I see love and doing things as being two separate factors that affect the happiness of the relationship, but that are closely intertwined and can affect each other, if that makes any sense?
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Re: Is it good to be loved for what you do, instead of who you are?

Post by reboundstudent on Fri Mar 18, 2016 6:21 pm

Wondering wrote:Are these qualities so easily separable? When I think about what I love about my husband, I love him for himself, but part of himself is what he does for me. If you took out what he does for me, he'd be a different person.

Am I misunderstanding what you're asking?

I think I'm asking is it bad if the main reason you love someone is because they do things for you? Everybody likes to be supported and taken care of. If your partner loved you because you were essentially an in-house servant/therapist, is that a bad thing? Or that part of a healthy relationship? Is our value to our partner supposed to be what we mainly do for them?

This is kind of hard to explain. I have a long history in which guys dated me and stayed with me because I'd bend over backwards to do things for them (making them food, cleaning their space, taking care of their stuff, organizing the social outings, being the main driver to escape the rut in the bedroom and routine and so on), and always felt like I should be doing more. If I stopped doing those things, I lost value; I was no longer worth loving.

Is this normal? Is a partner's value mostly what they do for someone else?
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Re: Is it good to be loved for what you do, instead of who you are?

Post by reboot on Fri Mar 18, 2016 6:59 pm

I think it depends on what you consider expressions of love. Some people most value acts of service as love expressions, others not so much. I do not think there is a "good" or "bad" way to feel love as long as your partner knows you love them and you show it in the ways that they value
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Re: Is it good to be loved for what you do, instead of who you are?

Post by Enail on Fri Mar 18, 2016 7:32 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
I think I'm asking is it bad if the main reason you love someone is because they do things for you? Everybody likes to be supported and taken care of. If your partner loved you because you were essentially an in-house servant/therapist, is that a bad thing? Or that part of a healthy relationship? Is our value to our partner supposed to be what we mainly do for them?

This is kind of hard to explain. I have a long history in which guys dated me and stayed with me because I'd bend over backwards to do things for them (making them food, cleaning their space, taking care of their stuff, organizing the social outings, being the main driver to escape the rut in the bedroom and routine and so on), and always felt like I should be doing more. If I stopped doing those things, I lost value; I was no longer worth loving.

Is this normal? Is a partner's value mostly what they do for someone else?  

That sounds lousy to me. For the question of 'is this normal, is this a good/genuine form of love' is where I'd use 'would they love/value another person doing the same things as much as they love/value me?'

But I think a more important question would be 'can I love someone who expects this much labour from me and who makes me feel like a servant?" And whether or not it's love, on my part, on theirs, does it matter if it's love if the relationship is one where I am only treated with love if I do the majority of household, emotional, etc. labour? I'd see a relationship like that as pretty much the same as my example relationship with Eternally Snappish Enail, if the way they treat you makes you miserable, that's just as important as the feelings behind it.
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Re: Is it good to be loved for what you do, instead of who you are?

Post by Werel on Fri Mar 18, 2016 7:33 pm

reboundstudent wrote:I think I'm asking is it bad if the main reason you love someone is because they do things for you?... If your partner loved you because you were essentially an in-house servant/therapist, is that a bad thing?
I don't think anyone can give you a solid answer to "is it Always Bad, Full Stop, to be primarily valued for the ways you serve your partner," cause maybe some people really get off on that. But I also get the impression from your question that it is not a situation that makes you feel happy or appreciated, so... it might be bad for you, full stop?

reboundstudent wrote:I'd bend over backwards to do things for them (making them food, cleaning their space, taking care of their stuff, organizing the social outings, being the main driver to escape the rut in the bedroom and routine and so on), and always felt like I should be doing more. If I stopped doing those things, I lost value; I was no longer worth loving.
I think that is also an answer to your question. If your value to someone begins and ends at "domestic help/sex hole/unpaid therapist, interchangeable with any other person who fills these roles," that's.... not the kind of value most folks want to have to their romantic partners. If, even when they are doing all the many many taxing and difficult things you're describing, your partners still make you feel not-good-enough, that is not a dynamic that would make many people happy. And I don't think that's how most people who are happy in their romantic relationship would describe their value to their partners.

Enail wrote:I think there's a line between love and 'they do nice things for me' somewhere around if you would like anyone else who did the same nice things for you equally much.
Also this.
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Re: Is it good to be loved for what you do, instead of who you are?

Post by reboot on Sat Mar 19, 2016 1:41 am

Fundamentally, the question is do you feel loved?
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Re: Is it good to be loved for what you do, instead of who you are?

Post by eselle28 on Sat Mar 19, 2016 4:42 am

I think it's okay to love someone for that, and to choose to be in a relationship where you're loved for that. I think it's also okay to not accept a relationship where you feel you like you only want to be in it for those reasons, or where you only feel wanted for those reasons. Sometimes services done and recieved aren't enough.
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Re: Is it good to be loved for what you do, instead of who you are?

Post by FoxxxieCoxxxie on Fri Jun 24, 2016 12:07 pm

What a person does is an expression of who they are. If they will bring gifts and flowers they are usually(ignoring the manipulative and deceitful, which are a special case) kind and caring. The only way to know who someone is is through what they do(talking is a thing people do that sounds like who they are). It's not wrong to love someone for what they do, or for what they do that is beneficial to you. It's unhealthy for most relationships for one person to use the other, as in having one partner do everything for the other with no return. But that comes down to individuals on how imbalanced is acceptable

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Re: Is it good to be loved for what you do, instead of who you are?

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