Unrequited love. It’s one of Hollywood’s most popular movie themes, and something every one of us has experienced at least once in our lifetimes. You know the feeling, right? The object of your affections, your dreams, your fantasies, well, they just don’t feel the same way about you. “I like you, but just as a friend,” can be one of the saddest responses you could ever hear when declaring your love for someone you’ve been pining away for.
Let’s examine all of the ins and outs of this most-moving topic: unrequited love.
Unrequited love: a definition
Wikipedia says it best: “Unrequited love is love that is not openly reciprocated or understood as such by the beloved. The beloved may not be aware of the admirer’s deep and strong romantic affection, or may consciously reject it.”
In other words, unrequited love is like a one-way street going through the city of romance. There’s only one direction.
Imagine if you had to spend your days driving through a city in only one direction? That’s pretty frustrating, right?
Living in a state of unrequited love is not as romantic as you might think
Popular culture paints an emotion-filled, romantic picture of unrequited love, that from the point of view of the lover.
Songs like Adele’s Someone Like You , movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and the classic comic strip Peanuts—remember Charlie Brown’s pining away for the little red-haired girl?—all show us these heroes who, in a perfect world, deserved to be loved by the object they are fixated upon.
But these intense one-way feelings do not a happy lover make.
Living a life where you deeply love someone who does not return these feelings is actually quite sad and lonely.
Things rarely end up like in the movie, with the beloved suddenly coming to their senses and realizing they loved the other person all along.
If you feel love that is unrequited, what can you do?
First of all, realize that you are far from alone.
Most of us have felt the agony of unrequited love at some point in our lives. There are countless forums devoted to this very issue, and it might do you some good to read some of them, just to know that your situation is common.
So be gentle with yourself.
You might even use some of this pain for creative ends: write poetry, music, a short story, or paint a picture. All of these activities will be cathartic for you and help you “get it out.”
Ask yourself if this is a pattern
Are you someone who often experiences unrequited love?
It may be that you put yourself in such a position intentionally. That sounds counter-intuitive, but it serves a purpose for someone who is love-avoidant.
Instead of risking the possible pain that can sometimes come with a full love relationship, they continually seek these one-sided situations so that they have no possibility of ever blossoming into a fully-functioning relationship, thereby avoiding the “real deal” with all the ups and downs that implies.
If you see that you continually engage in this pattern, it would be to your benefit to work on this with a qualified therapist.
Your goal? To stop engaging in non-productive behavior, and learn how to develop healthy, two-sided relationships.
Some concrete exercises in getting through unrequited love
Much of what fuels unrequited love is in your head.
In other words, you create a narrative of the “us” without any real data to draw on. In that way, the love that you are feeling is fantasy-based, idealizing the other person. A good way to stop this is to actually get to know the person you are fixated upon.
You want to step out from your dream life about them and get to know them as a fellow human being. Getting to know their whole personalities, with all the weak bits and bad habits that all of us contain can help you get over this one-side romance you are living and turn it into something every day and normal.
You will realize that the object of your adoration is not perfect, and it will bring you back down to earth.
A great way to stop thinking about your unrequited love is to engage in other, more productive and energy-burning activities.
The upside to this?
You may meet someone else while you are doing sports, learning a new skill, or volunteering in your community. Someone who has feelings for you, too. Someone who shares the very interest that brought you two together. When this happens? Goodbye unrequited love, hello, real, full love!
Go on a date with someone new
If you’ve followed the above advice and met someone while out and about, distracting yourself, sum up your courage and ask them on a date. It doesn’t have to be anything formal, -you can just ask them out for coffee but it will provide you with an opportunity to have some concrete facetime with this person.
This is key to getting to know them as a whole human being and will prevent you from repeating the pattern of loving the idealized version you may have of them which leads to unrequited love.
And if that date leads to something more, this will definitely help you in getting over the one-sided love affair that was causing you so much pain.