Unrequited Love: 5 Steps to Free You From the Pain

man dealing with unrequited love

Sylvia Plath once stated ‘When you give someone your whole heart and he doesn’t want it, you cannot take it back. It’s gone forever.’ This aptly summarizes the tragic feeling of unrequited love.

Unrequited love is a one-sided love, intense emotion that’s unreciprocated.

While it may seem romantic to love someone with all your heart and soul, even when they don’t return your feelings, the reality is that unrequited love hurts.

What does unrequited love feel like?

Studies show that the pain of loving someone who doesn’t feel the same way about you is real. For some, it can be almost unbearable. 

Being in love with someone is one of the most vulnerable positions you can be in. Often people find themselves revolving their lives around the person they’re in love with; counting down until they’re next seeing them, overanalyzing each conversation, reading into every form of physical contact.

It can become obsessive and when the love isn’t reciprocated it can be extremely difficult to recover from. Many individuals feel themselves sinking into depression, resulting from this emotionally brutal form of rejection.

You shouldn’t feel guilty for loving someone. You can’t help who you fall in love with. It’s not a conscious decision. It’s not your fault that the other person doesn’t feel the same way.

So before you start questioning yourself, consider the fact that many people are victims of unreciprocated love. People can and do get over these emotions.

Here are some insights into the best ways of dealing with unrequited love.

How to accept unrequited love

Everyone has experienced unrequited love at one time or another. 

That’s why it’s also important to consider the pain of the individual who doesn’t reciprocate the love too. Unrequited love hurts both parties, not just the one who’s rejected. 

While the person in love may be under some false disillusioned hope, the beloved knows exactly how they feel and that it will not change. Inevitably this induces an influx of other emotions including overwhelming guilt, leading to suffering on their part too.

Many deal with this by laying low and avoiding the person who is in love with them, hoping that it’ll go away. This sadly often doesn’t work and prolongs the suffering of both people involved.

How to deal with unrequited love

Ultimately unrequited love is difficult for all parties concerned; no one gets what they want and it can take a long time to move past it. However, acceptance is the first step.

As soon as you accept that this is the situation that you’re in, you can begin to move forward. That’s not to say that there isn’t a long journey ahead, but at least it means the journey has begun!

Here’s our advice on how to deal with unrequited love.

1. Consider whether you’re getting a thrill from unrequited love

If you seem to find yourself frequently in the position of unreciprocated love, it may be worth you taking a step back from the situation and seeing if this perhaps is a decision you are consciously making. 

Of course, we all get a certain thrill from wanting what we can’t have, but if this is becoming a reoccurring situation you need to start confronting it head-on. 

Read more: How to stop comparing yourself to others and their relationships

2. Try not to take it personally

Of course, it’s much easier said than done, but you must try not to take this form of rejection personally.

People cannot consciously decide who they fall for. Just like you can’t help being in love with them, they can’t help not being in love with you. It doesn’t mean that you’re not good enough or unlovable but rather that at this time it’s not meant to be.

It may have nothing to do with you. Maybe it’s to do with them and where they are in life. They could be in love with someone else or simply uninterested in a relationship.

While you may have a lot of resentment towards the person who has rejected you, don’t blame them. They too will feel guilt in this situation and they can’t help how they feel.

Accept it as one of those unfortunate situations in life that’s no one’s fault and begin to move forward.

Read more: Getting over someone special

3. Don’t torture yourself

When love goes unrequited it may feel devastating but you can’t torture yourself. Acceptance will help you through the healing process.

Once you’ve realized your love is not reciprocated it’s time to let it go completely and do something new. You’re powerless to change their feelings but you aren’t powerless to change how you deal with them.

Reverse your disappointment and anguish. Don’t torture or question your worth and you’ll start moving forward.

Read More: How to move on: do you need to let go first? 

4. Distance yourself

In light of rejecting the rejecter, it’s important that you distance yourself from them.

Any form of contact, however small, will only make life more difficult for you. You will inevitably start reading into every small interaction. You need to evade this by avoiding them.

Perhaps at some point, you can have a friendship with them, but at this point, it’s not possible. Be tough on yourself. Keep yourself busy; throw yourself into work, catch up with your old friends or pick up a new skill (learn French or start painting).

Whatever you choose to do, keep yourself occupied and distracted! You don’t want time to dwell on this situation. Distance is the best healer.

Read more: 5 tips for dating your best friend

5. Date

The easiest way to move on, and this goes for any situation, not just unrequited love, is to fall for someone else.

Don’t start dating while you’re completely in love with someone but once you’ve followed the first 4 steps your feelings should be subsiding and you can start to contemplate dating other people.

Even just being out lots will enable you to meet a host of new people and spend less time thinking about your previous love.

Read More: Getting ready for that all-important first date? Read our tips

Overcoming unrequited love is a long process but there is light at the end of the tunnel. By following these steps and moving on, you’ll hopefully pave the way for a much more rewarding relationship. 

Value yourself and remember that you deserve someone who reciprocates your love. 

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