“There comes a time in your life when you have to choose to turn the page, write another book or simply close it.”
~ Shannon L. Alder
To love and not be loved is an unbearable pain. This is the type of pain that takes you on a journey of your un…ness.
“Un…ness” is a place where you believe all the lies you tell yourself about how “un” you are; unlovable, unworthy, unattractive, unacceptable, unkind, etc.
Loving and losing can lead you down rabbit hole on a dark, lonely journey where you can either become stuck in a place of despair of un…ness, or if you are lucky, you find a mirror. “What” you say, “A mirror? The last thing I want to do is look in the mirror”.
Right now I look horrendous! I feel pitiful! I am so un…”
By looking in the mirror and looking at the love you have for another, you can begin to see those amazing qualities you possess.
In the initial stages of falling in love, the excitement and the passion of love is a mirror of who you are and your wishes of who the beloved could be.
What you want in a relationship is more about you than the other. In the initial stages of love, the beloved fits into your image of the lover inside you.
So in reality, at first, you are falling in love with yourself. Then, gradually this image begins to merge with our beloved and who they are as a real person.
This is where the power of healing lies for you! The power of healing is when you can move from the incredibly painful journey of un…ness to the journey of you…ness; when you can begin to see the beloved is not the other, rather it is you.
What qualities, characteristics, traits and aliveness appeals to you about your beloved? Then, ask is this something in me I fell in love with?
Remember, they are a mirror of your beautiful image. It is your image you fell in love with at first, not the other? So, look deeply and clearly: does this image include aspects of yourself where further development would be beneficial?
Are there parts of yourself you don’t want to own? Or, are you afraid to embrace these qualities in yourself?
Moving along the journey of un…ness into the journey of you..ness is an act of bravery.
Look inward, see the wounded place, comfort the wounded place, and then look again towards the mirror and embrace your “you…ness”. Begin the journey of owning what you believe the qualities your beloved has, because it is all there inside of you, for you. The beloved is you! And now let the healing begin.
Anne Shopp, LMFT, CACII – www.anneshopp.com
“I prithee send me back my heart, since I cannot have thine; for if from yours you will not part, why, then, shouldst thou have mine?” – John Suckling
Love is a powerful emotion that many people yearn to have in their lives.
As a part of our innate nature, I do believe science when they say that through our DNA, we are wired to love. According to researchers there are several neurotransmitters such as; adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin which assist in the promotion and sustainability of love.
If you have a boyfriend, crush, or just started dating someone, the sound of their voice, mention of their name, or simply being around them, probably sends your heart racing. This is the effect of adrenaline.
Your heart is racing because you are excited to talk or be around that particular person; you seek pleasure from their company. Dopamine contributes to the novelty seeking behaviors that a person experiences in the relationship; which in turn, contributes to them wanting additional interaction.
Finally, the most powerful of neurotransmitters; serotonin, keeps your love interest on your mind through idealization and analysis of the relationship. In addition, you are constantly thinking about the future.
So, love is a feeling, something that is wired in our brain.
But, I also believe, just as much as it is a feeling, it is a choice as well. People choose to sustain those feelings through their behavior. Have you ever heard of the saying, it is not what we say, but rather what we do?
It is true, love may happen naturally, but you choose to stay in love.
You do this by offering your undivided attention, trust, devotion, regular communication, etc. The point is that you engage.
On the flip side, like everything else in life, with love comes risk; the chance of unrequited feelings.
If you find yourself in a situation where your love is unrequited, which is bound to happen to a person at a point in their life, the key is to disengage.
When I say disengage, I do not mean disengage from love all together, but rather the person.
You set the time frame, whether it be weeks, months, or years, you need time to get over the person, in order for you to move on with your life.
Over time, with the limited interaction, your feelings will dwindle, and might disappear all together as the novelty wears off.
This is going to be hard, letting go always is. However, we learn our best lessons through these difficult times. I personally know how devastating and heartbreaking unrequited love can be, and it took me a while to realize that I cannot, nor should I want to, convince someone to love me.
Like I said, love is also a choice.
Think about it, you can either be miserable and chase after someone, who will not return your affection, or you can be miserable, but learn to let go, and move forward to a promising future.
Either way there will be pain, but one scenario offers a hopeful future, while the other, keeps you stuck in the present. Which path are you going to choose?
Robin Ennis, LMSW, CPC – www.prominentpathways.org
I remember so long ago when I was smitten with “puppy love.”
I think I was 13. My heart would race when I would see the object of my affection in the school corridor and I was thrilled by his smile as he walked by. This went on for quite some time as my emotions were on a rollercoaster ride. Well, as it turned out, the object of my yearning never felt the same as me and eventually moved to another school.
I felt so saddened and heartbroken that he never returned the affection and my gazing and smile connection was lost forever. But I never forgot the feeling of loss even to this day.
Fast-forward to being an adult, I learned to be more selective in finding someone more compatible and made sure that he was the one pursuing me before I let my heart get involved.
Unrequited love can happen when you choose to be with someone based on your heart without critically evaluating the nature of your relationship.
Questions to ask yourself:
- “Am I doing all the work in this relationship?”
- “Am I the only one making the plans to do things?”
- “Am I the one making the phone calls to him?”
- “Am I changing my plans to suit him but he’s not doing that for me?”
If these are true for you and you feel that he’s just along for an “easy ride,” you may have fallen in love with a man who is just not into you, that he’s not the man of your dreams.
He may not be more than just a friend and you need to let him go if you’re expecting a commitment of love from him.
Some women believe that having a relationship with a man will complete them as a person, making them happy and all their dreams will come true.
So they will fantasize about what a man can bring into their lives. What they need to realize is that those lofty ideas of fulfillment cannot be made by the man.
We, as women, hold the key and are responsible for our own happiness. If we put that expectation on a man we wish to be with, he may sense that neediness and run away.
If or when this happens, the woman is left feeling rejected and in terrible emotional pain. She may, then, criticize herself for not being good enough for him but it’s really just that you’re not right for each other. Try not to take it personally. I know—it’s easier said than done.
If you continue to choose men who reject you or who are truly unavailable for a committed relationship, you may be repeating a pattern of childhood abandonment that needs some professional help to resolve the pain you feel.
If your father was neglectful and distant, you may choose this type of man, unconsciously, in an attempt to repair this difficult emotional hurt.
Additionally, if you have fears of intimacy, putting all your emotional eggs in one basket of a man you fantasize about but cannot or will not return your affection, keep you away from really enjoying your life to the fullest.
Dr. Joanne Wendt – www.doctible.com/providers/joanne-wendt
Although Alfred Lord Tennyson said, “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” it certainly doesn’t always feel that way.
Loving someone who doesn’t love you back can feel like the ultimate rejection.
Worse, it can make you fear loving and prevent you from getting out there and finding someone who can love you back.
To get past the pain of unrequited love, do the following:
1. Recognize that this is only one person not loving you, not every potential lover on the planet.
Our brains tend to generalize our fears. Get bitten by a dog and you might fear all dogs. Get rejected by someone you love and you may believe that no one out there will ever love you. Be careful to focus on this being one person, not every person.
2. Don’t assume there’s something wrong with you and that you’re unlovable.
I see this often with clients who, when they’re rejected, automatically assume
it’s because there’s something wrong with them—and that it’s such a deep defect
that they can never fix it. If someone doesn’t love you back, maybe it’s them. Perhaps they don’t feel the same click as you do, already have their sights on someone else, or just aren’t into dating or having a relationship right now.
3. Don’t ruminate over all the people you’ve loved who haven’t loved you back.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling bummed and automatically thinking about all the rejections you’ve ever had—romantic and otherwise—ever since kindergarten. Don’t let yourself go there. We’re not obligated to love someone just because they love us. Sometimes it’s not you or them, it’s just life.
4. Think about lovers who’ve loved you and you haven’t been all that interested.
This kind of remembering really puts your situation into perspective. Were all the people you rejected awful losers or were they perfectly nice folks who just weren’t a great match for you? You’re allowed to not love someone even if they’re wonderful, and it’s okay that someone doesn’t love you even if you’re wonderful.
5. Don’t stay home and sulk and make a big deal of what happened.
The worst thing you can do is act like a victim, mope around, and cut yourself off from social occasions. It’s fine to have a good cry and feel terribly disappointed. It’s even okay to grieve what could have been. What you want to avoid, however, is making your life worse because someone has rejected you. Instead, spend time with friends or family—people who love you to pieces—and you’ll soon feel better.
6. Consider if you generally pick lovers who reject you.
If you often find yourself loving someone who doesn’t love you back, you may be
Picking people who are unavailable. Learn the signs and you’ll cut down on rejections and unrequited love.
Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed. – www.karenrkoenig.com
- How often have you found yourself grieving the loss of a relationship and thinking that it ended because something is wrong with you?
- Are your thoughts focused on a belief that you somehow didn’t measure up?
- Or perhaps you think you have some fatal flaw in you that caused him to leave you?
These are common thought processes that keep women stuck in the pain of unrequited love.
Typically when we experience loss in our lives, we not only feel the pain of the current loss, we associate it with all the losses we have endured in the past as well. This tendency is even more painful and destructive if we have not processed the grief of past losses, and it becomes harder to let go and move on.
When it comes to love relationships, it is common for women to see negative patterns in themselves, but often they do not know how to move past these painful experiences to attract positive loving relationships.
When a relationship ends, this is actually the perfect opportunity to look closely at your negative beliefs.
Instead of numbing the pain, distracting, or immediately jumping into a new relationship, spend time honestly taking stock of what happened that got you into this situation.
See this as a kind of “withdrawal” period. It will come to an end but you have to feel your way through it. Tying to avoid or numb the pain will likely result in your repeating the pattern again in the future.
Be kind and compassionate with yourself, and be honest about your part.
You may feel hurt, victimized, angry or confused by the actions of your partner. Try to stay focused on yourself. The more you can take responsibility for your thoughts and choices, the sooner you will begin to attract a new and improved love into your life.
Look at the choices you have made in the past.
- Were there red flags that you chose to ignore?
- In relationships, how often did you accept crumbs when you really wanted the whole loaf of bread?
- Did you allow yourself to stay in relationship with someone who did not value you?
- Do you value yourself?
When a relationship ends, allow time to grieve in healthy ways that allow you to heal.
Spend time with friends and family who make you feel better about yourself. (Some don’t, so AVOID these). Avoid using alcohol, drugs, or unhealthy distractions. Practicing major self-care can make a huge difference in how you feel about yourself, so take time for some deep healing. This is the time to start a meditation practice, eat better, exercise, etc..
Take notice of the way you think or talk about yourself.
Instead of “I always attract unavailable men”, say “In the past I attracted unavailable men. Now I am moving into a more positive place in my life”.
Always seek additional support if you are depressed or feeling suicidal. This too shall pass but you may need additional help to get through it.
Jessica Potter, LMFT – www.jessicapottermft.com
A friend reached out to me last week and asked, “What do I do when my soul mate doesn’t want to be with me?”
What a tragic and painful question, how brave of her to ask it! So how DO you move past the one you thought really was Mr. Right?
First, understand that you have more than one soul mate.
We all have multiple aspects to our personalities, many different ways we are in the world. Our matches have the same variety, and, as such, we have more than one perfect match.
While some folks estimate we have unlimited possible matches, I think it is most realistic to understand and move forward from the theory that you have several soul mates just waiting for you out there!
Second, know that if it wasn’t right, it wasn’t right.
Fighting reality is our quickest way to make ourselves miserable. Nothing takes a person down faster than wanting life to be different than it is right now.
Wishing for Mr. Right to finally realize what he’s missing? Want to make him see why you are perfect together? These are wishful thoughts that will keep you stuck.
Third, move on with the lovely parts of the relationship firmly in hand, leaving behind the bits that didn’t work.
Since forcing things to work when they aren’t working isn’t going to help, it is important instead to do things that will soothe you and move you forward well.
Identify the parts of him that did feel perfect, really remember the characteristics you must have in your next relationship.
Also, remember the parts that weren’t perfect, the ways you two didn’t quite fit, and know that these are issues you don’t want moving forward.
Above all, be kind to yourself. Losing the one you love is a tender, awful thing and coming to acceptance about it takes time.
Dr. Carrie McCrudden – www.coloradotherapycare.com
One sided love is a drag. One person doing all the work, it’s exhausting with little reward. So, why do we hold onto unrequited love?
We often time fall in love with who we think someone is: the idea of the person and not necessarily who the person is.
To start, know that you deserve better than loving someone who isn’t going to love you back.
Get your head out of the past.
Stop making excuses for him or her based on their past. Such as: he’s been hurt, she’s had a hard childhood, sound familiar?
You can have empathy and compassion for someone and the hard times they’ve experienced. You can model what a healthy relationship looks like and how to love someone. However, don’t let someone’s past hurts excuse their inability to show you love.
Get your head out of the future.
Stop looking at the person he or she can be. We all have potential and it’s beautiful that you see it in your beloved. However, loving the future person, isn’t helping him or her now.
If you truly love someone, you can encourage him or her to be the person you see him or her to be. But make sure you are not falling into a trap.
Is the future him or her you love, really who he or she wants to be? Are you making your beloved into someone who he or she isn’t?
You might need a reality check.
If you can, talk with your beloved. See where he or she sees themselves. What is he or she doing to become the future version of him or her? If you aren’t on the same page, it’s time to let your beloved go.
Get your head in the now.
- How are things going right now with your beloved?
- Are you doing all the work?
- Does he or she even know you exist?
- Is your relationship one sided?
It’s time to realize that you deserve better. That there is someone out there is going to treat you how you want to be treated.
- Start looking at why you love your beloved?
- Why are willing to love someone who doesn’t love you back?
- What are you getting out of the relationship?
Once you realize why you are sticking around and what you are getting out the relationship you can find a healthy replacement. Remember, you deserve someone who is going to love you as much as you love them!
Margaret Bell, MA, NCC – www.forwardkindheart.com
Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety or possessions – we cannot be free. – Thich Nat Hanh
So you thought the only way to be happy was to have that special someone finally love you or return to you. But it is the clinging to this hope that is actually causing the suffering.
Think thousands of screaming Beatle’s fans sobbing and crying at a concert. Sort of seems ridiculous, doesn’t it?
Maybe one or two of those fans score a one night stand, but you are not going to read in Paul McCarthy’s autobiography that he fell madly in love with the girl in seat 3B.
It’s the same angst you are feeling. Just a smaller fan club. Focus on the following to begin to move on:
Be your own fan and learn how to love yourself. Loving yourself is actually a process of creating new neuropathways via repetition of positive statements. You are already perfect. Until you open your heart to yourself and improve your self-esteem, you will continue to attract men who don’t see your worth. In fairness, how can you expect someone else to see your worth if you can’t see your own value?
2. Investigate to see how clinging is serving you.
Your initial response to this statement may be, “That’s ridiculous how is it serving me?” But if it wasn’t serving a purpose, you would let it go. Most probably it is protecting you from facing your fears of true intimacy. As long as you cling to an unrequited love you don’t have to risk the further possibility of rejection with a new love.
3. Stop personalizing.
Unrequited love is not proof that you are an unlovable person. It is just information that the two of you are not a fit.
4. Don’t story.
We story and fabricate what the other person is thinking. You are not a mind reader. Go buy a lottery ticket and you will see that your psychic abilities are weaker than you realize. Go back to step 3. You are not a fit. End of story.
5. Go slow.
Next time you consider entering into a relationship with someone, be selective. Take your time. Get to know him. What are your non-negotiables? Reclaim your power. You get to make half the choice.
Nobody can make you feel happy or feel good about yourself. This has to come from your own thinking. Stop looking for others to fuel your self-worth.
See this suffering as an opportunity to slather yourself with compassion for the sense of loss and lack of love.
Another person’s inability to love is never a reflection of your lovability.
9. Get yourself out there again.
The only way to let go of an unrequited love is by taking baby steps forward and start dating.
Margie Ahern, M.Ed. – www.gomindful.net
Are you stuck on a man who just isn’t into you? Are you caught up in a fantasy about finding a way to get his attention because if only he could really see you, he would be yours?
Yes, I said the word the fantasy.
If your unrequited love has turned into a kind of obsession, it would be more useful to examine why you would expend energy on a man who isn’t sending you the right signals.
Consider these things:
Maybe you are in love with the idea of him.
Often we build people up in our imaginations. If we barely know someone, we have only a rough sketch of their personality. With more contact and intimacy, we can begin to fill in color and nuances, and see their persona more completely.
Think about if you are adding details about this man in your imagination only.
Now try to imagine less alluring details about him. For example, picture him chewing dinner with his mouth open and burping loudly at your favorite restaurant, or whining in his beer because he lost at fantasy football, or exploding in an uproarious road rage behind a Prius on the freeway. Still madly in love?
Maybe you love the thrill of the chase.
If so, this is worth examining more deeply. Are you familiar with feeling neglected and having to earn attention and affection from caregivers? Are you comfortable with admiring others at a distance because you fear intimacy?
The cliché often spouted by your biggest supporters that “if he doesn’t see how fabulous you are or like you back, then he’s a moron!” might sound lame, but there might also be a gem in there worth holding on to. Maybe he’s not a moron but he probably isn’t worth spending this much time and energy on.
Finally, check your self-esteem.
Value yourself. Finding a partner has many variables. Reciprocity is a given necessity. Self-worth is a prerequisite.
Carla Litto, MA, MFT – www.relationshiptherapistinla.com
Have you ever noticed Shakespeare’s love sonnets are filled with stories of unrequited love. Every person I have ever met can relate feeling crushed by a former flame or lover at some point in their life.
I have come to realize that one of the most loving gifts you can give yourself is to release the pain of past relationships.
So many people unnecessarily hold on to their pain in an effort to avoid getting hurt again. Life is too short to be spent ruminating over past mistakes or misfortunes.
In my opinion, it is better to honor the past by taking the lessons you have learned in any past relationship, and applying them in your life so you can create something better.
If this is something that you are willing and ready to do, then below are some simple suggestions for starting the process.
a. Step back and notice what happened in the relationship.
Be curious. When did it start to unravel?
b. Be willing to take accountability for your part.
Gently ask yourself “how did I contribute to this problem.”
c. Identify any negative expectations.
Did either of you expect to be disappointed? Did either of you expect to be rejected? Did you and your partner want the same thing? Identify your own unhealthy expectations, and then slowly work on replacing them with healthy ones so you do not repeat the same patterns in your next relationship.
d. Consider doing a ritual that symbolizes the release of the past, and a willingness to move forward.
This could involve lighting a candle and reciting a declaration to yourself, or writing down all the pain in a journal and bury it in the ground. Do what works for you.
e. Decide on the type of experience you now want in a relationship.
Focus on the relationship you want rather than the person you want. For example, maybe you would like a relationship that is loving, respectful, supportive, and fun rather than one someone who is simply exciting. Notice what qualities are most important to you. What do you value in a relationship?
Develop awareness into what you may need to adjust in yourself in order to have the experience you desire.
A relationship cannot make you happy. It can only add to your happiness. This is because a relationship simply reflects back your inner beliefs and expectations.
If you do not feel ready to release the pain, simply ask yourself why.
What do you get out of staying in the pain? What need is being met by remaining stuck in the past?
Do not judge the reason. Simply notice it. Be willing to love yourself anyway. The less resistant you are to the process, the easier it will be to move forward.
Dr. Shannon Tran – www.shannontranphd.com
Dear Unrequited Love,
You had the right idea. You loved so deeply that you didn’t know how to stop loving.
Is that a bad thing? To never stop loving? For truly, how do we love someone deeply and completely, and then never think of that person again?
When we love with our whole heart that means that we are emotionally, spiritually, and physically engaged.
Is it really possible to just simply – on the turn of a calendar page – not care any longer?
When your heart truly becomes one with another, there are so many strings that connect you: friends, family, experiences, holidays, vacations, dreams, memories, and all of the million moments that you have lived together. As a couple, you are growing together at a much higher rate.
Relationship is where we can experience the most personal growth, the most quickly.
It’s like an accelerated course on self-awareness. And, one the greatest gifts that a relationship produces is the opportunity to learn ourselves better through the give and take of it.
If it happens that our relationship doesn’t work out, there is still so much to have gained by having been in it.
Every relationship we engage in in has a lesson for us. You discover new things about yourself: what you want, what you need, what you like, what you don’t like, and who we are! And from these experiences you learn, better and better, what is good for you, and what is not so good for you. From this profound intertwining of lives, we grow and change in a thousand ways.
In order to move on, you need to appreciate all that you have learned, and realize that it wasn’t just a waste of time, nor kick yourself for loving in the first place.
You just get yourself up and brush yourself off, and realize that this unique intertwining of lives brought you many gifts.
So, my advice, dear Unrequited, is to first, rest and recover from the shock and the loss of it.
Then, practice self-compassion as you, breath-by-breath, thought-by-thought, heal your heart. As you become stronger you will start to understand better and better what actually happened in all its complexity, and in its simplicity. And soon enough, you will be able to experience compassion for both of you.
So, here is the spiritual formula that will free your heart and let you move on in your life.
1. Every time you think of your past partner, say a little prayer in your heart and wish them well.
2. Then, wish yourself well.
3. Finally, imagine blowing a little dandelion as you set each other free.
Diana Lang, Counselor and Spiritual Teacher – www.dianalang.com
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