First, resign yourself to reality: they will never love you back. Either they do not know you exist, or you will never actually know each other, or they simply don’t think of you in any other way than the way they do right now. Your feelings cannot change this. You changing yourself cannot change this.
They will never love you back.
It’s a harsh pill to swallow, but you’ll do it, because there’s no other choice. It will feel like a badge of honor, a punishment you take as your own burden, because you cannot choose who you love (or so you tell yourself), and that works both ways. You cannot unchoose to love them, because you have tried and you have failed. They cannot choose to love you. It wouldn’t be fair to expect one of them without expecting the same of yourself.
So you will continue through your life, walk through your day — interact with them if you must — and feel like a martyr for the cause. You’ll think you’re ridiculous for it, of course — you know you should not love them — but here you are, unable to get over them. You will listen to sad love songs and watch sad romance movies and read sad books and see yourself in every unloved lover, every girl who pined for someone and every guy who stayed there nobly throughout it all.
You are going to hate yourself for being so cliché.
But you will carry that like your burden. You will balk when people actually like you back, because you will have become so accustomed to this fate — this not being loved back — that it will shock you when you actually do get attention from someone. That someone could like you in the way that you like someone else. You won’t understand, and you’ll turn them down, and say that you are taken. Or you’re not interested. Or it’s not the best time for you. Anything to let them down gently, because you know what it’s like to be rejected. Still, though, you will wonder. What do they see in me? Am I likable? Is this pity? If this one person likes me, why can’t someone else?
It will gnaw at you.
You will ask your friends. What’s wrong with you. What you could fix. What you could change. Where you come up short and what you could improve and how you could trick them into thinking you’re the one they want, if only for a little while. You will bargain with yourself, change your clothes, cut your hair, put on airs and like new bands and books and movies. You will try, and feel like a fraud at first — but then, slowly, you will believe yourself. You will think you’re actually this person, because this person is someone who could be loved back, maybe.
Your friends will call you an idiot, and that nothing is wrong with you, and that the person who deserves you will take you just as you are, and you will nod and agree and call them sweet, and try to believe them, but you’ll still feel flawed. Lacking. Wanting. They’re your friends. They’re supposed to already like you. They don’t get it.
You will forget that everyone has their someone, their missed chance, their could-have-been. You will forget that you have given your friends this advice, too, and felt badly for them when they tried to change their whole lives around people who would never be a part of the picture.
But slowly, you will grow tired of the charade, and miss the old you. You will pick up all your bad habits again, the comfortable grooves of being a flawed person that made you so interesting in the first place. You will go on dates, and never tell these dates that you are comparing them to someone else the whole time, but you will try. You will laugh and flirt and kiss and sleep with other people, you will push them out of your mind. You will replace them, and wall up that space in your heart where they live, trying to keep them from getting out.
Because slowly, you will realize that this person who never loved you back is an idea. That’s all they ever were. You did not know them well enough to love them — you projected who you thought they were onto their body, and greedily took that and ran with it. Because they did not love you back, you never did learn how they wanted to be loved. You might have loved them, but they never asked you to do that.
Even martyrs sometimes fight for the wrong cause.
Love someone who will never love you back. Want someone you can never have. Listen to pop songs about unrequited love and leaving boyfriends and girlfriends for new horizons. Wallow in everything unrequited. But even though you cannot choose who you fall in love with, you get to choose the things you dwell on. Wall up that space in your heart. Try to move on. Don’t turn that love into wasted energy. And if you truly cannot force yourself to move on, spend that time loving yourself in the meanwhile.
Somebody should love you back. Why can’t it be you?