It occurred to me the other day that there might be people in this world who have never known unrequited love, have never fallen for someone who didn’t fall too.
I know it’s rarer than a solar eclipse, but it seems likely that some have managed it; people who married their high school sweetheart, who got it right on the first try, who were seemingly born with enough innate confidence to walk right up to the object of their affection and say, “I think you’re great, would you like to go on a date sometime” and whose confidence was rewarded with a resolute, “Absolutely, I’d love to” and a Happily Ever After. The rest of us would be inclined to murder a couple like this if we ever came across them, but I maintain that they are the ones who are missing out. Everyone should fall for someone who doesn’t love them back at least once.
People who don’t love you can be found in many places. Pick the person in a brand new relationship; they can’t see more than five inches past the face of their new love, let alone far enough to see you pining away in the corner. Pick the girl you’ve been friends with for ages, the one who refers to you as a brother and will never see you as anything else. Pick the boy who flirts with everyone, sleeps with everyone, the one who doesn’t know what he’s looking for and never seems satisfied. He’ll do just fine, too.
This has to be more than a crush, more than just a fleeting attraction. Thinking they look cute when they smile, or letting your imagination momentarily wander when they touch your skin isn’t enough. You must love them with every fiber of your being, from the moment you wake up until the moment you fall asleep, day after heartbroken day. Memorize the rhythm and cadence of their voice, the subtle gestures of their hands and each expression of their face, so when you’re asleep and dreaming of a world in which you’re together, it seems real. Feel your soul fracture each morning when you wake up and realize it isn’t.
Let the agony, the obsession, consume you. Nothing hurts quite as exquisitely as loving someone who doesn’t love you back.
Perhaps you think I’m crazy for suggesting anyone let themselves fall into this pit of despair, that I’m an emotional sadist of the worst variety. But darling reader, I assure you I’m not, because eventually something happens to every single person who loves someone who doesn’t love them back: they manage to stop being in love.
While it takes varying amounts of time, everyone finds their breaking point, that moment when enough becomes enough. It could be the third night you cry yourself to sleep, the fifth time they cancel plans with you to be with someone else, or the eighth night in a row you spend getting drunk alone. It can take months, or even years. But here’s what you’ll have once you get there:
After surviving that kind of ache, you’ll be so much stronger, so much more certain of yourself. You’ll see that all pain (physical, emotional, and metal) is a temporary state of being, not a permanent one. There is always a reason to go on, always a reason to fight for yourself.
You’ll realize that because you are not loved by one does not mean you are not loved by all. You’ll understand that love cannot be won like a teddy bear at the fair; cannot be stolen like a rare painting from a museum in the dead of night. You’ll see that real love comes first from within, not from anyone else. You learn that those annoying people who say things like, “real love comes from within” were telling you the truth this whole time, but you had to learn it for yourself. Don’t worry – you don’t need to tell them they were right.
Getting over unrequited love feels like having a blindfold removed – you suddenly see all the love you’ve had in your life this whole time, and you’ll appreciate those individuals like never before. You will be humbled, you will be grateful, you will be wiser.
Here’s the best part, though, about getting over someone who doesn’t love you: you realize that nobody healed your heartache, that you were able to fix yourself all on your own. And once you’ve proven to yourself that you can recover from that, you won’t be afraid to go looking for love again.
And again, and again and again.
And one of those times, you’re bound to be rewarded with someone who reciprocates every ounce of your unbridled affection, who loves you just as much as you love them, and that will be the most supreme feeling of ecstasy you can fathom. You’ll see that loving someone who didn’t love you back was totally worth it.