Here is an ideal love story: Boy meets girl, they overcome challenges and walk into the sunset together. Unfortunately, not every story has a happily-ever-after ending. If you’ve ever suffered one-sided or unrequited love, you’d know what we mean. It is an experience that destroys you from within, leaving a massive hole in the heart.
Somehow the pain of unrequited love is different as opposed to the hurt you go through when you are betrayed or abused. When you love someone who does not love you back, you feel rejected. Rejection in the romantic context feels a lot more brutal than any other. There is heartache, pathos and a lot of self-pity as you brood for someone who may be not even aware of your emotions!
What Causes Unrequited Love?
History, movies, literature are full of sympathy and empathy for one-sided love. But like most things about relationships, unrequited love is also rather complex. You may wonder why some people want to pine for someone who doesn’t really give a damn. But mysterious are the ways of the heart!
Nevertheless, love gurus and counselors often point to the below factors that lead some lovelorn souls to pursue a lost cause:
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1. Someone meets your fantasy image
All of us have an image of Mr or Ms Right. When you meet someone who ticks off all the boxes (looks, money, humor – take your pick), it doesn’t take long for you to fall for them. Unfortunately, their fantasy list might have some other qualities you lack, resulting in their royal cold-shoulder treatment to you.
2. You don’t love yourself enough
Everyone goes through a phase in life when the object of their affection does not return their feelings. Unrequited love hurts like hell but it hurts those suffering from low self-esteem more than those who are confident and do not seek a partner to complete them.
3. You are afraid of failure and rejection
Just like it is important to say ‘no’ in life it is also important to accept a ‘no’ from others. One of the main signs of unrequited love is an inability to face rejection. A person who is afraid of being turned down may take such a setback rather personally, leading to depression, anger, jealousy and other negative emotions.
4. You have a void in life
A balanced life means you have a strong career and a happy personal life with healthy relationships. But when some important elements of life are missing, you feel a huge vacuum in life and tend to get obsessed with unrequited love.
5. You are more fascinated by the idea of love
Just because a person has some great, desirable qualities does not mean you put them on a pedestal. A man or woman who is perfect in the eyes of the world may not be perfect for you. So learn to differentiate between the idea of love and love itself. Learn to like people who like you back.
Related Reading: What love is NOT
9 Ways To Cope With Unrequited Love
One of the ways to stop getting hurt if somebody you fancy shows no sign of loving you back is to make a conscious effort to stop investing emotionally in them. Accept that they are not available for you.
Of course, this is easier said than done since the forbidden fruit is sweeter and the unrequited love psychology means you yearn for something that is not meant for you.
But if left unchecked, unrequited love can become a pattern where you constantly fall for those who cannot or will not care for your feelings. It might impact your other relationships, depriving you of the love you truly deserve.
So how do you get over the pain and move on? Here are 9 ways you can cope with unrequited love:
1. Identify the signs of unrequited love
A healthy relationship involves an almost equal give and take. But if you are the one who is constantly giving without receiving anything in return, it’s a sign of unrequited love.
You are constantly on the edge, feel nervous around them, are infatuated enough to overlook all their flaws and can’t get over them despite being ignored. If these signs sound familiar, it’s time for a reality check. Only then can you make efforts to redefine your love life boundaries.
2. Pull the blinders off and learn to look at them closely
Sometimes an objective assessment of a person is all that is needed to pull the blinkers off. A classic sign of unrequited love is to create an idolized image of your beloved, essentially because you are admiring them from afar. Remember the statement ‘familiarity breeds contempt’?
Try to know them from close quarters and perhaps you may realize they are not so perfect. Watch and judge them in different circumstances. Try to assess whether in them you’d be choosing the right partner or are you just enamored by the image of their persona you’ve concocted in your head.
It might not lead you to un-love them but it might help you snap out of an illusion. This doesn’t mean you judge them for their flaws, just that you may hurt less.
3. Indulge in hobbies, meet friends
When you are madly in love, you constantly fantasize about them, visualize meeting them and tend to construct a bubble, shutting off others. The only way to get your mind off them is to distract yourself. Meet your friends (but don’t bore them with tales of your one-sided relationship).
Develop some hobbies or give your career your all. Follow some passion other than chasing Ms or Mr Impossible. Some activities give you the same rush as love does, so who knows new opportunities may arise if you allow your mind some distractions.
4. Try to isolate
Unrequited love can appear in different ways. Perhaps the person you’re in love with is an ex for whom you have suddenly rekindled feelings or a colleague. Or the worst kind of them all – a close friend. You don’t want to risk losing a friend because of unrequited love but can’t bear the thought of them with someone else. One immediate way to stop the heartache is to isolate yourself from their company.
Avoid places where you are likely to bump into them. Excuse yourself from events where they would be present. Seeing them with another partner is likely to puncture your heart and ego more. Why put yourself through it? This is not a permanent solution but it can give you space to breathe.
Related Reading: Why Is It So Hard To Let Go, Even If The Person Doesn’t Love You?
5. Give yourself a deadline
You hear plenty of stories where the sheer effort put in by a spunky lover has made an initially reluctant man or woman fall for them. Well, the ‘chase’ and the ‘art of wooing’ certainly make the love game very interesting. So go for it by all means. But set a deadline for your ‘goal’.
If a person is not interested despite all your attempts, respect it and back off. Don’t stalk and do not become a depressed soul, crying over your unrequited love for years. Instead, once your deadline is over, pick yourself up and move on. Yes, just snap out and give others (and yourself) a chance. Also, give yourself a time frame to heal from the pain.
6. Develop confidence
Love should not complete you, rather it should complement you. Imbibe this simple philosophy in your life. In other words: self-love. When you are in love, you may make the other person your priority, but rejection from a heartthrob can damage your self-confidence.
Just like being loved makes you glow, being ‘unloved’ can break you. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. Instead, accept the heartbreak and learn to fall in love with yourself. Go for a makeover, look your best, feel your best and let love chase you instead of the other way round.
Related Reading: She married another man but I love her
7. Give others a chance
Now, this may not be the ideal situation but there is nothing more you need for a little ego boost than tones of attention. So what if they’re just not into you? Others may be! Perhaps you never noticed as your eyes were only for the one you fancied. When you realize you are not making much headway, gently pivot to other directions.
Swipe right on Tinder, set up a date on Bumble, meet someone new through common friends… anything that gets you back into the dating game successfully. However, keep it superficial and fun. Unrequited love can cause a deep schism but a new casual relationship might just help you take life easy.
8. Don’t be afraid to seek love
Unrequited love can leave you with a feeling of shame, guilt and embarrassment. But know that the path of love is strewn with several such episodes. In some cases, you might be the rejected one, in others, you might reject someone! Don’t let the experience put you off love.
Sure, take your time to grieve and do whatever it takes to bounce back. But the worst thing is to give up on love. Time is a big healer and you will find a way past this. However, learn from the experience. The next time be a bit wary before plunging headlong into love.
Related Reading: Giving Up On Love? 18 Reasons To Reconsider
9. Set big goals for yourself
If you are not the sort to date for fun or get into a casual relationship to forget the one where you felt rejected, then channel your energy into something more fruitful. Set goals for yourself, physically and emotionally. Resolve that you won’t let a man or woman’s perception of you define your life.
Accept the fact that just because they didn’t love you does not mean there is anything wrong with you. And let go. When you focus more on yourself and look inward, you won’t need to seek anyone else’s approval. Look for healthy ways to get an outlet for your feelings.
Love should be an emotion that enriches you and makes you happy. Any relationship that stresses you or makes you think less of yourself is not worth it, howsoever great they may be. Sometimes life does not give you what you want or who you want because there may be someone better! So keep a positive mind and don’t travel the one-way route to a relationship.
There is no time frame to get over unrequited love. Sometimes it may last for years if the person you have feelings for does not get replaced by others who may actually like you. It depends on how soon you accept the situation and move on.
Yes, of course. Unrequited love can become requited if you manage to attract the attention of the person you love. Feelings can change and someone who did not get your emotions might get attracted to you given a change in circumstances.
Obsessing over unrequited love requires effort and patience. Once you begin to focus more on yourself and your goals, actively and consciously distract yourself and try and meet new people, your obsession might reduce over time.
Unrequited love does not go away completely unless you fall in love again and experience equally strong emotions with someone else. You might still hold a candle for the person who did not reciprocate but their rejection will stop hurting you.