Pining over unrequited romantic affection is a form of emotional masochism. It doesn’t serve you in anyway, except for making you feel awful. Unrequited love only brings pain and feelings of martyrdom, as if your suffering somewhat makes your feelings more pure. That’s an extremely warped perception and not at all emotionally healthy.
Romantic rejection is one of those themes that seem to permeate our popular culture – songs, movies, novels, TV shows, comic books all featuring sad stories about loving someone who doesn’t love you back.
This entire cultural obsession with heartbreak and melancholy is pretty well described by Rob Gordon (John Cusack) in the beginning of High Fidelity. Of course, when he asked, “What came first, the music or the misery?” he was talking about all kinds of heartbreak, but unrequited love definitely also falls into that category.
This may not be the gentlest way I’ll ever advise you, but I mean it in the nicest possible way: it’s time to move F*#^ on!
It’s time to shake off feeling lovesick, stop wallowing and playing victim. You need to move towards the mutually loving relationship you deserve.
Yup, it’s going to sting
Moving on isn’t going to be easy, but it will benefit you in the long run.
First and foremost, you need to make a firm decision that you are going to let it go. The romanticization of unrequited love in our culture condones wallowing while you can, and then lash out when you can’t take it anymore (the whole friend zone rage thing is an example of this). Moving towards healing from this hurt means giving up both of those emotions.
Of course, it’s natural to feel hurt, sad, rejected or disappointed when you’ve got strong feelings for someone and they don’t feel the same way. Even after you’ve made the decision to let it go, it’s probably still going to hurt for some time but you need to start taking positive steps in the right direction.
Think of it like ripping off a Band-Aid, you can do it quickly and have it over with, or needlessly draw the pain out. The former is obviously preferable.
You could spend your whole life waiting for this person to come around (which is probably unlikely) or you could go out and live and enjoy your life, and find more appropriate partners.
Recognize that you are not lacking
Unrequited love is fundamentally selfish. It doesn’t respect how the other person feels. It usually comes about when you are feeling some lack within yourself and trying to affirm your sense self-worth through someone else.
It’s hard not to take rejection personally, but the only thing it means is that the specific person you’re lusting after doesn’t want to be in a relationship with you. One rejection has no bearing whatsoever on how attractive, smart, funny or dateable you might in the eyes of someone else, or more importantly, how you view these things yourself.
At some point in your life you’ve probably been in the reverse situation where someone cared for you, but you didn’t reciprocate. Reflect on how you felt when you were receiving unwanted attention – chances are it wasn’t very good. You may have even liked that person as a friend, but didn’t see him or her in another light.
There’s a myriad of reasons why someone may not return your affection. You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to overanalyze it, so just don’t try. The healthiest, most self-loving but also mutually respectful thing you can do is decide to let it go.
Work on your self-love
Yes, emotions are hard and complicated and wibbly-wobbly but unrequited love is frankly a waste of your precious time.
When you keep pining over someone who doesn’t love you back, you aren’t making room in your life for the other innumerable amount of amazing people there are in the world. A terrific partner could be right under your nose, but your infatuation with another could be keeping you from seeing it.
When you’re trying to move on from these types of strong feelings, you need to take time to focus on yourself and doing things that you feel good.
Make some time to spend time with your best friends. Have “dates” with yourself where you block off time to do things that make you happy. It might be going to an art gallery, or working on a personal project, or spending time in nature. It could be anything really, so long as it helps make you feel good about yourself.
Take time to start writing daily gratitude lists and taking stock of the good things in your life. If you feel the need to keep yourself busy, take up a new hobby, go to social events or even just take yourself to the movies. (For more ideas on how to start loving yourself more, see Gala Darling’s fantastic posts on Radical Self Love.)
It may hurt like heck to begin with, but once you start taking steps towards moving on, it will get better. Your progress happen in baby steps, but believe me, there’s better love out there than one that isn’t returned. The best one of all is the enduring, lifelong relationship you’ll have with yourself.
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