Unrequited love is a romantic wasteland. Are you wasting your time pining away for someone who doesn’t love you back? Are you hoping and praying and wishing and hoping that he’ll notice you and see all the good qualities that you possess? Are you hoping that he’ll break up with his girlfriend or divorce his wife who doesn’t deserve him and will never treat him as well as you would?
I’ve got news for you. You’re on a slippery slope. Very RARELY does unrequited love work out. ON the contrary, fixating your emotions on someone who doesn’t like or love you back can be extremely detrimental to your self-esteem, your psyche, and your emotional stability.
What is Unrequited Love?
So what is unrequited love? It is a love that is not reciprocated. It is the love that one has for some another, but not returned. You may love this person from afar because he may not even know that you exist. He may be a co-worker, or even an ex-boyfriend or spouse, but he is someone you may often see on a regular basis.
More Than a Silly Teenage Crush
Typically, when we think of unrequited love, we think of junior high or high school girls or boys who have a crush on someone and that someone has no idea or does not like them back. Teenagers often say, “He doesn’t even know I’m alive.” A lovesick teenage girl writing love poems in her slam book and listening to love songs on the radio conjures images of the perfect “he loves me, he loves me not” scenario.
But what happens when unrequited love becomes an obsession in your adult life, when you are in love with someone who does not love you back because he’s just not attracted to you or because he’s unavailable or because he’s already in a committed relationship. Or what if this is an ex-boyfriend whom you just can’t get over?
Unrequited Love in Popular Culture
Unrequited love is often presented as the pinnacle of romantic sacrifice and selflessness in classic literature, movies, poems, and songs.
The reason there are so many examples of unrequited love in popular culture is that unrequited love has all the romantic allusions of selflessness, nobleness, sacrifice, and long-suffering. In reality, however, unrequited love can lead to obsession, depression, and self-destructive behavior including, at its most extreme, suicide. Uhm, does Romeo and Juliet ring a bell?
The Psychology of Unrequited Love
Believe it or not, unrequited or unfulfilled love can feel good at first. It can give the same feelings of euphoria and bliss that reciprocated love can. And because this type of love is idealized and never fulfilled, it is not subjected to the everyday banalities and flaws that can plague an actualized romantic relationship.
A Lose, Lose Situation
Unrequited love is also difficult for the rejector. If the object of the lover’s affection is aware that he is causing pain for another or that he cannot love back, there are feelings of guilt, pain, and frustration for the object of this one-sided romance.
If your “love” for this other person persists and you know that it does not have the possibility of coming to any kind of fruition, you must find help, and you must move on. You need to focus your energies on more productive things so that you can get this person out of your head. Love yourself first and know that you deserve to be loved as deeply as you yourself can love another. That person is out there for you.
Are you pining away and becoming absorbed in your own delusion?Are you thinking about this person 24/7 and creeping on his social media, driving by his house, place of employment, or social events? If the answer is yes, then you have to PUMP THE BREAKS and seek counseling because you have developed an unhealthy addiction to this person which could ultimately even land you in trouble if he thinks you are acting like a stalker.
10 Questions to Ask Yourself: Am I Wasting My Time on Him?
1. What is it about this person that I love so much? What is it about him that attracts me so? Make a list of all the qualities that you admire in your crush. Ask yourself if one human being could truly possess all these traits. If you’re honest with yourself, the answer is probably no. You just have not had the opportunity to know this person on a deeper level to become aware of his character flaws and shortcomings. Additionally, the exercise of writing down the desired attributes can give you a clear picture of what you may desire in a potential partner, or these may be qualities you can strive to achieve for yourself in your road to self-development and personal growth. Either way, writing things down and reflecting on them can force you to take an honest look at your feelings from a detached perspective. This method of putting pen to paper, called journaling, can be an effective way to help you cope with your fears and concerns, give you clarity, help you identify triggers, and take control of your emotions.
2. Do I believe that I will never find someone as good as or better than this person? Sometimes we are short-sighted and cannot see into the future. (No, I don’t mean psychic like.) We think that what we have now is what we’ll have later on, or where we are now is where we’ll be in the distant future. We lack the foresight and understanding to realize that change is a constant and that the things that trouble us today, will most likely be insignificant and of little consequence tomorrow. This can hold true for you if you’re pining away for someone whom you’ve decided is the only one in the world and you will never find anyone like him. Look back on your life and you’ll probably find that this is not the first time you’ve been “in love” with someone who did not reciprocate. And guess what? You moved on, and you can get over his this time as well. The future is always full of hope and promise of new and exciting possibilities all waiting for you to take them. But if you’re stuck in this lovesick rut, you’ll waste precious time spinning your love wheels and going nowhere fast.
3. Am I fixating on this unattainable relationship because I’m scared to find someone who will really love me? Being in a “relationship” where you know you are relatively safe can be the real motive you are still hanging on to this person. You could be so afraid of putting yourself out there and getting down and dirty in a “real” committed relationship that you prefer to be in a pretend relationship with someone who may never love you back. It feels good to wallow in your self-pity and melancholy.
4. Am I afraid to put myself out there and this makes me feel safe and protected from more pain and hurt? You nurture your pain because on some level it protects you and shields you from the potential hurt of a reciprocated love affair.
5. Do I feel unworthy to be loved? This question segues from the previous one. Do you believe deep down inside that you do not deserve the love of the object of your infatuation? Is this one-sided romance a way of proving to yourself that you are not worthy of this person’s love because he is so much better than you?
6. Have I idealized this person to a status that is not realistic, super-human, or saintly? Researchers have found that in unrequited love, the lover is usually falling for someone out of their reach.
7. How has my life been paralyzed since I’ve been in love with this person? Have you put your life on hold waiting for this person to love you back? These are things you must consider. Those who are in the love pains of an unrequited relationship may feel that they cannot go out and enjoy life if the other person is not with them. They may fall into a sort of depression which can be very paralyzing and perpetuates a vicious cycle of pain. By closing yourself off to the rest of the world you alienate yourself from possibly meeting the real love of your life.
8. Does this painful one-sided romance make me feel alive? Do I thrive on pain? Believe it or not, some people get off on negative feelings. They almost become addicted to feeling pain and creating drama. Dealing with unrequited love places someone in a crisis situation which makes the person feel that they’ve got something going on in their lives. And some are even addicted to being unhappy. Because they may have low self-esteem, had a poor upbringing, or because they do not want to be disappointed, they tend to have relationships that are unfulfilling, thus proving to themselves that they are not worthy in the first place.
9. Is there a realistic possibility that this person will ever be with me? You have to be very honest with yourself. What is the situation? Does this person know how you feel? What are his feelings? Has he made it clear that he is not interested or is he giving you mixed signals? If he is not interested because he flat out said so, if he’s in a committed relationship, or if he’s not even in the same world as you (he doesn’t even know you exist), then you need to forget him. Now, if he’s giving you mixed signals, if this is an ex-boyfriend, or if this is someone you are friends with benefits, then you need to have a heart to heart talk and express to him that you have strong feelings for him and you want something more. Tell him that if he cannot be open to the possibility of exploring a committed relationship, then you must cut ties with him.
10. What changes can I make to move on? The best thing to move on from a painful relationship, break up, or heartbreak in general, is to put distance of time and space between you and the other person. You must cut all ties and avoid seeing and hearing about him for at least a year. If you work at the same place, try to find another job. I know this is easier said than done, but if it’s not possible, try to be moved to another department where contact is minimized. If you have the same circle of friends, then ask your friends not to mention him when you are around. You will have to forgo social media if you are in the same circles. And if you are not, then make sure you do not “stalk” or creep on his social media accounts. You need to go cold turkey. You need to break the habits that will put you in contact with him. Create new distractions for yourself. Volunteer, go to the gym, take some night classes, but keep yourself occupied. And who knows? Be being active and giving of your time and commitment, you may meet another like-minded person whom you may end up loving. And ultimately, if you feel you cannot let go of the hurt and the pain, you must seek counseling from a professional. Often times, we cannot or do not know how to cope and deal with our own emotions and that’s when a licensed therapist can help us navigate the through the turmoil of our feelings.
You CAN Get Over Him
I could tell you with utmost certainty that practically everyone on this green earth has loved someone who has not loved her back. We have all experienced the pain of unrequited love, and if you ask around, we all carry some scars from the painful experience, yet most of us have managed to move on and find true love again.
10 Steps to Get Over Unrequited Love
DON’T establish contact.
DON’T ask about him.
DON’T romanticize him.
DON’T seek closure.
DO allow yourself time to grieve.
DO seek therapy or counseling.
DO find new interests/hobbies to distract yourself.
DO go on lots of dates.
DO know that you will get over him.
DO love yourself.
Yes, love hurts, especially when your love doesn’t love you back, but here’s the thing, you need to realize: this person is not the only proverbial fish in the sea. I know, this sounds very trite and cliché but it’s very true. There are other potential lovers out there who are ready to love you if given the chance. Going through the heartache of unrequited love can be a learning experience and an opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth. I truly believe that if you put yourself out there and go into the dating world with an open mind and an open heart, you’ll eventually start to get over the unrequited lover.