Moving on is an arduous process that brings the best of us down to our knees. But when you’re grappling with one-sided love, the battle is doubly challenging. There is no definite answer that explains how to stop loving someone who doesn’t love you; unrequited love is heart-breaking and has no obvious antidote. But while I can’t give you a one-size-fits-all answer, there are a few tips and coping strategies that will help you along the way.
Such a complex and layered subject is best discussed with an experienced mental health professional who can be our friend and guide. Today we have Pragati Surekha, a licensed Clinical Psychologist and faculty member of Kornash: The Lifestyle Management School. Pragati has been working in mental health for the last fifteen years and specializes in individual counseling through emotional ability resources.
She’s here to answer all your questions – How to stop loving someone who doesn’t love you back? Can you avoid love feelings? And is it possible to stop loving someone but stay friends? Let’s do an in-depth probe of these facets of moving on from unrequited love.
Can You Stop Loving Someone Who Doesn’t Love You?
Maybe you’ve emerged from a bad relationship where you were giving too much of yourself; whatever love existed, was from your end. Or maybe you’re in love with someone where there’s no possibility of a relationship. Either way, you’re looking to close this chapter of your life so you can move forward and find happiness again. I know this is easier said than done, after all, can you ever stop loving someone who doesn’t love you back?
While it might feel like the world is ending, things do get better with time. ‘Stop’ might be an incorrect word to use, but you do eventually move on and say goodbye to someone you love but doesn’t love you back. You work through the ugly emotions and find happiness again. But this process has to happen very organically. You can’t hurry things along without doing some groundwork yourself.
Pragati astutely says, “Love cannot be wished away or ignored when you are moving on. You cannot force your feelings. They remain there for a while and you have to learn the art and science of working with them. Give it some time and put in the work from your end. The pain subsides and you heal – patience is the recipe for recovery.”
As the saying goes, all things are difficult before they are easy. Before you read further, here’s an optimistic note – there is much hope for you. Carry the intention of healing in your heart and focus all thoughts on yourself. Your only concern should be your well-being, not the person you love. Focusing on the self is how to stop loving someone who doesn’t love you. Now that you’ve (hopefully) prioritized yourself, we can begin.
Related Reading: 8 Sensible Ways To Deal With Rejection In Love
9 Expert Tips To Stop Loving Someone Who Doesn’t Love You
A word of advice before you proceed with these tips – don’t dismiss any suggestion given below. Give it a go even if it seems trivial or ‘not your thing.’ Approach these strategies with a very open mind and heart; there are diverse paths to moving on and you never know which one will click. Sit with each of these ideas and absorb them. Implement them in your own way because there is no universal format with emotional healing.
I’m simply asking you to entertain each concept even if you dislike it. Your question – how to stop loving someone who doesn’t love you? – is a complex one, after all. And consequently, the answer won’t be short either. Read on to find out what you can do in this situation. I’ll be with you every step of the way.
1. Evaluation and acceptance – How can you ever stop loving someone you truly loved?
Arthur Phillips wisely wrote, “How much of life could he spend aching? Aching is not a stable condition; it must resolve into something.” And this rings true for you too. Unrequited love is not sustainable; it begins corroding you from within. In order to resolve this complex feeling, you begin with evaluation and acceptance.
You should view the situation from a purely practical lens. Ask yourself three questions if you’re trying to understand how to stop loving someone who doesn’t love you:
- Is there any hope of my love being returned?
- Can I continue to love them without ultimately compromising my own happiness?
- If they have put their wellbeing first, do I not deserve to do the same?
Since there can be no future with this person, the clear way forward is moving on. Accept things as they are; the strength of your feelings, the impossibility of a future with them, and the fact that you will have to let them go. Embrace all three facets and allow yourself to grieve. You can let the emotional side take over once you have cognitively grasped the situation.
Pragati explains, “Look at it simply, if you were to offer a plate of food to someone and they weren’t hungry, they’d turn your offer down. Because what you are giving does not fit into their plan. Their requirements are different and they have the right to not accept your proposition. In no way is this a personal failure or defect in you. It just means that the pieces of the jigsaw didn’t fit.”
2. How to stop loving someone who doesn’t love you? Distance and patience
These are extremely important components when you want to say goodbye to someone you love but doesn’t love you back. Trying to be friends or staying in touch with an ex really doesn’t seem to work because it is almost always accompanied by an ulterior motive of winning them back. Despite your best belief, the intentions aren’t innocent. It’s best to maintain a one-arm distance from the person you’re in love with.
This does not mean to say that you should walk the other way if they approach you. Just don’t go out of your way to communicate with them. Adopt the rule of ‘speak when spoken to’. Putting some distance between you two will put things in perspective too. It’s difficult to gauge the nature of our feelings when we’re constantly with the person in question.
And secondly, be patient with yourself. If your mind keeps circling back to their thoughts, or if you’re unable to focus on basic tasks, don’t get frustrated or angry. You might blow your fuse on the tiniest of matters because you’re trying to avoid love feelings. But there will come a day where you won’t wonder ‘how to stop loving someone who doesn’t love you.’ Just hang in there, this too shall pass.
A reader from Nashville wrote, “Patience never came easily to me. When I was trying to get over my best friend, patience was what I needed the most. Because when you’re trying to stop loving someone who doesn’t love you back, you direct the frustration inwards. I was also making the mistake of trying to stop loving someone but stay friends. It got very toxic after a point and I began meditating to help myself get better.”
3. Nurturing other relationships
You’ve got an abundance of love in your heart and no place for it to go. Or so you think. Take a minute and revisit the priceless relationships you share with others – your friends, parents, siblings, even co-workers. They would be elated to receive your love today. So, text your best friend and meet them for lunch. Watch a movie with your parents or cook them a lovely dinner. And go get a drink with that colleague to gossip about the latest office romance.
There are so many people in your life who cherish the connection you share with them. I know you are trying to stop loving someone you can’t have, but let this love nurture the other bonds you have. Your friends and family have been around for much longer than the one you love. The affection you hold for a friend never goes unreturned. Instead of trying to stop loving someone but stay friends, focus on the other people in your life. Don’t take your support system for granted – strengthen it every opportunity you get.
Related Reading: Is Limerence Toxic Love? 7 Signs That Say So
4. Striving toward self-love
Pragati puts it quite beautifully, “In my opinion, the best way to deal with love is by love. (This is why you shouldn’t avoid love feelings.) Once your foundation of self-love is solid, you’re equipped to deal with the challenges that relationships with others present – even toxic or unrequited love. You ought to concentrate on self-love before you move to love for others.”
How to stop loving someone who doesn’t love you? By strengthening the relationship with yourself. Do you have a secure self-image? Or are you a victim of self-hatred? What is your attachment style? Which experiences have defined your approach toward relationships? Try and answer these questions for yourself if you want to stop loving someone you can’t have.
Figure out the problem areas and troubleshoot. You are the best judge of the chinks in your armor. For instance, if low self-esteem is the problem, then aim for confidence and assertiveness. If communication skills are a department you lack in, then put your social skills to the test with simple exercises.
5. Stop loving someone you can’t have by seeking professional help
How can you ever stop loving someone you truly loved, you ask? A little hand-holding might be highly beneficial in your case. A mental health professional can help you navigate this rough patch in your life. A lot of insecurities surface when your love is one-sided. Feelings of rejection, anger, frustration, grief, sorrow and anxiety assault you in one go. Figuring out how to stop loving someone who doesn’t love you is taxing. In severe cases, people exhibit the symptoms of depression too.
A licensed therapist or counselor can guide you through these unpleasant emotions. At Bonobology, we have a panel of experts at your disposal who are a click away. They can help with an even-handed evaluation of your situation. Please reach out to us if you’re in an unhealthy mental space – we are here for you and we understand that loving someone who doesn’t love you back is deeply painful.
It is advisable to dismiss any notions of being too self-sufficient for therapy. My sister was going through a divorce and she was still in love with her soon-to-be ex-husband. But their differences were irreconcilable and staying in the marriage was compromising her dignity. Unable to move on, yet resolute to do so, she reached out to a psychotherapist finally. While the course of her journey remained unchanged, the sailing was much smoother.
6. Channeling your energy elsewhere
Is there a project at work you’ve been meaning to take on? Or something simpler – a book you want to read? Take this opportunity to do these things. The goal is not to distract the mind, but to prevent it from slipping into lethargy or pessimism. These are perfect activities for when you’re single but not ready to mingle. People often talk about the little joys of life; a good cup of coffee, watching the sunset, taking a stroll in the park, staying in on a rainy evening, etc. What makes you happy?
Remember the song raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens? Whatever may be a few of your favorite things, put them into practice ASAP! You could even take up a new hobby or learn a language. The possibilities are endless if you look for new things to try. And if you aren’t feeling like experimenting (perfectly understandable), slip into a few habits that are comfortable. For example, my comfort habit is reading in bed.
Loving someone who doesn’t love you back is terrible to live through. We’ve all seen Ross Geller go through the motions of one-sided love. But an activity list or even a to-do list can put a bit of color in your life when the world seems bleak and gloomy. Actively searching for happiness and creating it is how to stop loving someone who doesn’t love you.
7. Taking a wider view of things
There’s a micro perspective and there’s a macro perspective. The former puts you in the victim mode or hurt mode. You think, “This is the worst thing that could ever happen to me. And how can you ever stop loving someone you truly loved? Everything is awful.” But the macro perspective is wiser in answering – how to stop loving someone who doesn’t love you? Hear it from the expert herself:
Pragati says, “Maybe this experience is contributing to your journey of becoming a better individual and, ultimately, partner. Because with time you will realize where you made mistakes. This is an opportunity to unlearn and re-learn, and learn some more. Don’t let one episode distort your view of love as a whole; there are miles to go.”
See? Isn’t this a better viewpoint to adopt? In the larger scheme of things, this event is one of many which will guide you to your true better half. Honor its importance in your journey, but don’t let it wield too much power. Apologies for sending a cliché your way, but this is just a part of your life, not your whole life.
Related Reading: What Does It Mean When Someone Ignores You?
8. Finding an emotional outlet is how to stop loving someone who doesn’t love you back
Cassandra Clare wrote, “Unrequited love is a ridiculous state, and it makes those in it behave ridiculously.” I don’t want you drowning your sorrows in alcohol and drunk dialing the one you love. Neither do I want you to let yourself go by binge-eating or not eating. A healthy lifestyle is non-negotiable at all times. Even when you are trying to stop loving someone you can’t have.
Pragati says, “Yoga, meditation, mindfulness, journaling, and so on, are excellent ways of regaining your emotional equilibrium. Journaling especially contributes to your growth and self-awareness. It gives you a lot of clarity in retrospect about the relationship and yourself. You might come to see the hits and misses of the past in a much better light.” Instead of making poor decisions you’ll definitely regret later, engage in practices that make you grow.
9. Getting back on the field
In no way is this a ticket to hooking up or getting into a no-strings-attached relationship. This is a step that comes much later – once your turmoil has ceased and when you aren’t going on dates to make someone jealous. If you sense an inkling of vengeance or competitiveness as you make plans for a date, cancel immediately. For this is a gateway to mind-games that no one but you are playing.
Still asking how to stop loving someone who doesn’t love you? When you think you’ve returned to a space where you can share your life with someone, go on a date or two. Have a thoroughly good time and try to get to know the person well. Check whether you’re compatible, if there’s chemistry and, of course, friendship. Take things slow and enjoy the process of dating. This comfortable zone of happily-single-but-open-to-mingling is where you will eventually reach.
These tips might seem like a handful on the first read, but they’re not very difficult to implement. I’ve got complete faith in your ability to persevere. You now have the answers to how to stop loving someone who doesn’t love you so start using them – good luck on your journey!