Ah, the exquisite pain of being in love with someone who fails to feel the same way in return. This type of heartbreak can come in many different forms—how riveting. Maybe they’re a friend who you would love to be more than friends with, an ex-lover you’re still not over, a friend with benefits that you caught feelings for, or hell, maybe even someone who doesn’t know you exist. Regardless of who this person is, it’s not a fun feeling to be alone in love. Realizing someone doesn’t feel as deeply for you as you do for them is quite the bite. What is important is how we deal with these feelings.
The first step to coping with unrequited love is to recognize if it’s really love after all. Sometimes you might assume what you’re feeling is love when in actuality you’re experiencing infatuation. These two sensations are often easy to mix up, since they give off similar effects, or at least that’s how it seems. The main difference between the two is that infatuation is usually a short-lived emotional attachment, while love is a deep connection of affection that people typically don’t ever get over. Where love takes some time to develop, infatuation can instantly occur. I mean, everyone’s entitled to their own perception here, but this is how I’ve come to recognize the two based on personal experience.
If you’ve assessed your situation and found that it is indeed love that you’re experiencing, then start questioning what you want. If you want a relationship with this person, then why? Maybe you think it will make you happy or maybe you feel lonely. If this or something along these lines seems to be the case, then you need to work on yourself. Maybe the love isn’t being reciprocated for a reason—maybe life knows you’re not quite ready. Don’t try to cling to someone to solve your feelings of discontentment. Focus on loving yourself rather than hoping for someone to do it for you.
If you really love this person and can’t figure out why you can’t stop, then don’t. Just let yourself love them, because resisting your emotions won’t help the situation. It hurts to not have the love reciprocated; it is a feeling of loss. I know you’re suffering but allow yourself to—it will strangely make it easier. You need to experience the grief and all the stages of denial, anger, and sadness. Your feelings are valid, so cry it out when it’s needed.
If they’re constantly appearing in your life, you should limit your time with them. I’m not saying to disregard them or completely cut them out of your life, but allow yourself some space. This is way easier said than done, especially when all you want to do is see them and plot ways to win over their love. The line needs to be drawn and you need to draw it. It might be hard, but constantly being let down by someone who might possibly never give you the love you deserve is harder. I don’t know your circumstances or what might work for you, but find a way to keep them far enough from your healing space.
When you’re crazy about someone, all you can think about is them and scenarios that involve them. It sounds insane, but we all do it. As humans, we naturally hold onto feelings of hope. You’re more likely to reach for a romantic novel or choose a romantic movie when your mind is fixated on love. We become consumed with pop culture ideals of romance, as the media is constantly in our face promoting relationship propaganda. Try indulging in a distraction that won’t fuel your unrealistic expectations. I know we are bombarded with the idea of love, thanks to the courteous entertainment industry, but try to avoid it. Stay away from romantic media and instead try to educate yourself on new things, try new adventures, and attempt to focus on other aspects of your life.
Sometimes you need to look at a situation from an outside perspective in order to see it logically. Try to take on a third-person role and inspect your feelings. Approach the situation by acting as if you were giving advice to your friend. It’s so much easier to dish out this grand advice rather than apply it to your own life—trust me, I am a victim of this circumstance. It’s difficult to separate yourself from your overwhelming feelings, but it won’t hurt to try.
Since these feelings are so strong and ever-so-consuming, why not make the best of them? Try to let these soul-crushing emotions fuel your creativity and inspire you. As a writer, it’s much easier to slap some words on a piece of paper when I am passionate about what I’m writing. Passion comes from strong feelings, whether they’re positive or negative. Unrequited love can be a huge source of momentum and can really push you to get things done (once you’re done sulking, of course). Make art! Whether it’s pure talent or absolute shit, just spill your guts out, because as Shrek would say, it’s better out than in.
Our feelings are powerful and have the power to make us feel alive. They’re a form of magic, because without them we’d be pretty boring creatures. They allow us to decipher right from wrong, love from hate, excitement from fear, and so on. Emotions are our instinctive guidance to making decisions accordingly in our life. Although they are a strong force, they don’t have the capability to make someone love you the way you love them. That’s okay, though, because there needs to be a limit—if there were no boundaries, our feelings would be dangerous. The good news is you will survive this no matter how draining it may feel.