Unrequited love is almost always romanticized in pop culture. We’ve all seen it before, be it through Jay Gatsby’s gallant pursuit of golden girl Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, or through tumblr posts depicting angst-filled quotes written in Serif font. It’s portrayed as something beautiful, a testament to humanity’s capacity to remain hopeful in the face of adversity. But anyone who has ever experienced unrequited love firsthand would know that it is far from beautiful.
In fact, it’s the opposite. Unrequited love sucks. It is painful, it is suffocating, and it is downright sucky. There’s nothing pleasant about wanting someone who doesn’t want you back. Simple as that. If you are currently in the throes of la douler exquise — the heart-wrenching pain of wanting the affection of someone unattainable* — here’s how to get over it.
(*definition credits to tumblr)
1. Accept it.
I know, I know, easier said than done. But it needs to happen. Look at your reflection in the mirror. Tell yourself that you are in love with someone. Tell yourself that this someone will never, under any circumstances, love you back. Stop kidding yourself. Tell yourself the things you’ve known all along but have been too scared to say aloud, because admitting the truth meant letting go. Take a deep breath. It’s finally time to let go.
2. Throw a pity party.
The first part of letting go is letting it all out. You’ve just accepted the fact that you the object of your affection doesn’t give a crap about you. You’re absolutely entitled to feel miserable right now. It’s time to take the Phish Food out of the freezer, lock yourself in your room, and cry. Binge-stalk this person on all of their social media platforms. Sob to your broken heart’s content. Let “Teardrops on My Guitar” be the soundtrack to this pathetic little snot-fest. Do what you gotta do. Experience this pain of yours to its fullest extent; let it flood your system, course through your veins. It’s been bottled up for far too long.
3. Write a letter.
Many of you might be tempted to skip this step, deeming it unnecessary or just plain stupid. But I promise, it helps. Write a letter to your unrequited crush. Do it by hand, pen and paper. Tell this person everything — when/how you fell for them, how incredible they make you feel, how horrible they make you feel. Hold nothing back. Be unapologetically passionate with your writing. When you’re done, read it over. Then get rid of it. Shred it, burn it, whatever. Why waste your time writing a letter nobody’s ever going to read, you ask? Here’s why: writing your feelings down on paper materializes them. Unfortunately, you can’t make your feelings towards this person go away just by mentally willing yourself to. Emotions are complicated like that. By writing them out, your emotions become tangible. You can hold them in your hands. And you can flush them down the toilet, too.
4. Distance makes the heart grow stronger.
In an ideal world, you’d hop on a plane, fly off to a remote tropical island, change your name, and never have to see this person ever ever again. However, this isn’t a particularly viable option. And neither is completely cutting this person out of your life. This person most likely isn’t going anywhere. They’re still going to be around. But it’s up to you to reduce this person from a principal player to a background character. Create some distance between the two of you. Don’t initiate unnecessary conversation. Take a different route to avoid crossing paths. There’s a nifty little feature on Facebook called the unfollow button — you’ll still remain “friends,” but your newsfeed will no longer be cluttered with their sloppy, half-drunken selfies.
5. Make a list.
If this whole “distancing yourself” thing is proving to be harder than expected, try this. Make a list of this person’s negative attributes. Their smoking habit. Their arrogance. Their unhealthy obsession with salmon shorts. *shudder* Those dreamy eyes don’t seem so dreamy anymore, now don’t they?
6. TREAT YO SELF.
It’s time to put all of the energy you used to spend pining over this nobody into becoming the best possible version of yourself. Throw yourself into your passions. Start that long-term project you’ve been putting off for ages. Hang out with friends and family. Distraction is key. Leave yourself as little free time as possible — it’s time to stop living in your fantasies and start living your life.
7. Time heals all wounds.
I hate clichés as much as the next person. But, if there’s one cliché worth defending, this is the one. Because it’s so true. Time heals all wounds. When you first begin this process, it’s going to be rough. There will be days when you see that someone, YOUR someone, and you’ll relapse into your old ways. The butterflies in your stomach will start flapping their wings, rivaling the flutter in your heart that inevitably comes with seeing your crush. And then you’ll catch him or her making out with someone else, and it will be devastating. And you will feel hopeless. BUT. If you make an effort to get over this person, I promise you, it will happen. Until then, be patient, take it day by day. You’ll come out stronger on the other end.