“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
One of the most painful things in the world is to love someone who doesn’t love you back.
You begin to believe that if you could just change something about yourself the object of your desire would change his mind. You begin to think that the reason another person does not love you is because of something that is wrong with you in a fundamental way.
None of that is true, but it’s hard not to believe it if that’s what you’ve been living. And it gets in the way of all your relationships afterwards. You wait to see if this person is going to love you, and even give them reasons not to sometimes because you don’t want to deal with the pain of rejection again.
It’s important to make peace with your past and your relationships before moving on to new ones.
You may need to figure out what about that person made you so attracted to them in the first place, and what is it about them not returning your feelings that hooked you in so powerfully. Usually I find that there is more than meets the eye when we are having trouble getting over something. There is no time limit on making peace with your past, so take all the time you need, but do it, and do it well.
Find ways that you can transfer some of that love you have for that other person who doesn’t appreciate you and turn it back on yourself.
You deserve to be loved, and most of all by you. Focus on the people who do love you, your friends and family, and accept the love they have to give you. Find out why they think you’re so wonderful. It’s a great way to reconnect with others who are already in your life.
And figure out what you want next.
Who is the person you really need in your life, and what do they have to offer you? The most important thing another can give is their love, so make that a priority in your life.
Becky Bringewatt, MA, LPC, NCC – www.mantiscounselingandcoaching.com
Unrequited love is so painful.
There you are available and full of love and tenderness but the object of your affection is not feeling it. Sadly, there is nothing you can do about it.
Bonnie Rait said it well; “I can’t make you love me if you don’t. You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t.”
Bonnie sang about how it feels to be in that position of loving someone who doesn’t love you. She knew that love is not something that either person can will into being.
I had this experience when I was in my twenty’s.
I couldn’t believe that the man I had fallen for didn’t feel the same way about me. I could see that we were perfect for each other. How could he not see it? I spent a lot of time and energy trying to help him see that I was the one for him. Not very surprisingly, the more I pursued him the faster he ran away. Chasing someone who doesn’t want you is humiliating and futile. I don’t recommend it.
I think the best thing that you can do is to accept that this relationship isn’t meant to be.
There is absolutely nothing you can do or say that will make someone want you. The more you try, the less attractive you will look. If you keep up the pursuit you are setting yourself up for constant rejection. Eventually that rejection will eat into your self-esteem. It’s bad enough to not get the guy; it’s worse to come to feel that there is something wrong with you.
Love and attraction are elusive.
I don’t think anyone can really predict whom we will love and who will love us back. Although rejection feels personal, it really isn’t. Choosing a partner is a reflection of the personal needs of the chooser at a particular moment in time.
You can’t expect that everyone will want you, in the same way that you don’t want every man that you meet.
You probably often don’t even know why you’re attracted to someone. But when you are, the attraction is coming from you, not from him. If you’re lucky he’ll feel it too. If not, move on. There will be someone out there who will see how lucky they will be to have you.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
Most of us want to be in love with a partner who can add an expansion in our life.
For a harmonious relationship and balance in love, both parties are involved fully. It is a wonderful feeling when this harmony exists.
Often the thoughts stemming from the feelings of unrequited love are all or nothing:
“Without this person, I have no purpose and my life means nothing! If I can’t have them, I don’t want anyone!” Putting all of one’s eggs in one basket is not a healthy strategy. It can lead to obsession and a fixation on the one whom you cannot have!
Unrequited love even feels worse when one discontinues doing emotional, physical, and intellectual things for the self.
Instead, what is helpful is to get outside and exercise in whatever way feels best for you.
Call friends and find activities and events that you can attend which will take the focus off the person whom you don’t have.
Do things you would do anyway and this will help buffer your own peace of mind and take it off of your forlorn thinking and focus.
So what is the answer here?
As difficult as it may seem, ask yourself if there is a pattern of realizing that the love you have for this person may never be what you want it to be.
It’s a fantasy.
The best answer is to allow yourself to let go without judgement or criticism and move on. Or you may want to seek professional help to understand why this is a vicious cycle and what you can do about it.
Constance Clancy, Ed.D. – www.drconstanceclancy.com
When the love of your life walks away, hooks up with someone else, or flat out tells you he’s not interested, it feels like a kind of death. You may even wish you were dead.
This is normal.
That’s key: know you are normal, even though you want to crawl into a hole and sleep for a few years. These statements reflect how it is to be devastated yet aware that we are normal (i.e., like everybody else).
- I am normal, even though I hate my life right now.
- I am normal, even though he doesn’t want me in his life.
- I am normal, even though the future I envisioned is not manifesting in real life.
- I am normal, and under these sorrowful circumstances, I deserve to be fully in tune with my emotions.
If you know you’re normal and okay, albeit emotionally crushed, you lean into the loss in a conscious way. You travel through the dark stages of loss and step out on the other side, into the sunlight. But if you fight against the grief, tell yourself to get over it, or pretend you’re not shattered, the process of healing gets complicated and takes much longer.
These practices help us grieve fully, while protecting us from unnecessary head-games that could block us from finding love and happiness down the road.
- Schedule time to cry. Let the tears flow unchecked. Sob loudly if you can. Cry yourself to sleep.
- Take naps. Make sure you get plenty of rest each night. You need more sleep than usual right now.
- Feed yourself lots of green. Drink kale and beet juice. Eat salads with spinach leaves and edamame. Eat roasted asparagus. Douse broccoli in your favorite dressing.
- Do some restorative yoga, breathing, and stretching. Schedule a one-on-one session with your favorite yoga teacher or neuromuscular therapist for stretching and focused attention to the places in your body where you hold sadness. Schedule a deep tissue massage.
- Meet for quiet lunches with your closest confidantes. Let them nurture you.
- Walk. Allow yourself to think about the loss while you walk.
- Write about the gift of your love. Write about how your love is beautiful and healthy and will be received one day by just the right person. Picture your love as an exquisite work of art and write about how you will protect it for the future.
Lean into the awfulness and get it over with. Let the tears act as a natural antidepressant. Give yourself all the time you need. It’s going to be okay.
Dr. Deborah Cox – www.deborahlcox.com
Whenever there is a of an intimate relationship loss, people feel understandable sadness, confusion, and self-doubt.
If the relationship has existed for a long time, those feelings can be very different if the break-up was mutual or one-sided. Relationships that have had a lot of turmoil preceding the dissolution at least give clear warning signs to both partners that an ending is predictable.
Though that does not always predict lesser anguish, there is not the terrible broad-siding that happens when one partner, without warning, walks. The pain is especially heartbreaking when the reason is another relationship that has secretly overlapped. (See my Psychology Today Blog, “Displaced, Replaced, Erased.”)
Unrequited love has no redeeming features.
If you’ve ever loved deeply, given his or her best, and found that you are no longer necessary to someone you still love, is devastating. The grief of being alone, discarded, and wondering forever what you could have, should have, done differently can bring on sleepless nights, diminished appetite, and uncontrollable moments of agony.
Worse, it can make you feel not only that love is too painful, but that there might never be another chance to find out.
If you’ve also been the person who has had to leave someone whom you don’t want to be with anymore, there may be places in you that understand the reciprocal guilt and remorse of the person who had to cause the pain you are in now. (See my Psychology Today Blog, “When Someone loves you more than you Love them.”)
If you have, that understanding does not automatically mean your pain you are in now will be lessened, but it can help you maintain better perspective in between the waves of sorrow you are enduring now.
If you’ve been repeatedly at the other end of rejection, you are much more likely to slip more deeply into a sadness that is harder to resolve.
Multiple, sequential ejections from once-hopeful futures are demons to the psyche of anyone. Repeated patterns are often unconscious but must be carefully examined as to what goes could be going wrong so often.
- Are you picking the wrong kind of partners?
- Are you better at a relationship in the beginning than you are as it progresses?
- Are you authentic up front with a new partner, heroic and willing to be who you really are, and then emerge with new dimensions later that push those partners away?
- Are you expecting more than you are asking for, or promising more than you can deliver?
- Are you pretending to be more optimistic than you really are inside and your tolerances narrow as your relationships mature?
- Have you carefully reflected on the lessons learned from past losses, and are changing yourself accordingly?
The grief of loss, for some reason, is often very different for men than it is for women.
Though I have known very romantic men who have been unable to leave the pain of unrequited love behind for a very long time, most men can become involved again quite soon while still grieving simultaneously.
They find it easier to compartmentalize their pain and to seem more okay than they are inside. That seems to be more difficult for most women, who, by nature are more sequential.
As a result, they more often feel that they have to go through all the stages of grief solo before they can even consider opening their hearts to another. There are, of course, women who also reach out quickly for comfort, but are more likely to want that new person to be part of their healing.
Most men are either wary of that responsibility or, unfortunately, can be the kind of partner who might take advantage of that vulnerability at the time but don’t stick around.
There may also be the complications of childhood abandonments that can make any loss more unbearable.
Pathological grief, those feelings of loss that so not seem healable by time, are often tied to those traumatic experiences that left the inner child in constant fear of the next new heartbreak.
People who suffer from unresolved trauma often do not see the signs that a relationship is ending because they cannot bear to face it.
Or, they may do the opposite, running away at the first sign of potential rejection and then suffering the loss alone as they may have had to when they were young.
There are so many competent advice gurus who have written tomes on how to overcome loss. Their guidance is standard and often helpful: reach out to others for nurturing, keep yourself healthy, search for spiritual support, join support groups, get some good therapy, don’t use alcohol or drugs to escape, take the time to reflect and learn how to do it better.
My own four decades of working with people who are devastated by an unrequited love loss is that they cannot learn well in the midst of that kind of anguish.
Each person has his or her own style of dealing with pain and it is hard to learn to swim in the midst of drowning. Also, each person needs his or her own time to go through the stages of grief that are now so well recognized.
If you try to force someone to let go before they are ready, you will only make that pain go underground and surface in other ways.
What everyone needs during this kind of understandable sorrow is non-judgmental support from people they trust, encouragement that their pain is real and justifiable, sustenance and nurturing, and patience for them to work things out without abandoning them.
If they become non-functional and you fear for their survival, then they need encouragement to get professional help or temporary medications that can keep them sleeping and calm until their body’s natural inclination to heal takes over.
A caveat: there is one class of people who fall in love with an unavailable person.
Whether an icon, a friend’s wife or husband, or a person who is not reciprocally interested, the person desired or adored from afar does not have the potential for any kind of a relationship at any time.
Those fantasy hungers may be the private domain of people who are afraid of risking in a real relationship, or are perhaps unable to accept their limitations of their real-life options.
The sadness of living life that way is that those fantasies take up the space that life needs to make room for other possibilities.
Dr. Randi Gunther – www.randigunther.com
Everyone has a past and unless you can leave the past in the past, you are carrying into the present all the baggage, including bad memories, unresolved emotions, negative triggers and other painful remembrances.
This means that when you meet someone new, you are not free to give yourself to the relationship because of fears you can be hurt again, mistrust of the other person, and overall suspicions about the other person.
Here are the steps you can take to release your negative emotions:
1. Identify your “issues.”
Are you having trust issues because your spouse cheated on you? Were you a victim of physical or emotional abuse from a controlling partner? Are you so co-dependent you don’t know how to live your own life?
It helps to pinpoint areas that are bothering you and identify your underlying concern. Notice any patterns you keep repeating and be responsible for changing what you can about yourself.
At the same time, realize you can’t change anyone else. Therefore, don’t expect to “fix” your new partner, especially if he has no interest in modifying what he does.
2. Once you know the problem areas, feel the feelings associated with them.
Are you feeling sad, angry, guilty, bitter, hurt, resentful or just plain disillusioned? Some external trigger, like a familiar song, a comment, a certain look, a meal, etc, will usually uncover these feelings and other feelings that are suppressed. Your new partner, unaware as to what is going on, will be a clueless recipient of your snide remarks and inconsiderate behavior.
By getting clear on what triggers may be setting you off, you can neutralize your feelings, making those emotions lose their negative charge.
In that way, you allow your new relationship to move ahead successfully, without the usual drama.
Remember, you don’t want to repeat your mistakes and blame others for things going wrong. Instead, take a look at what part you play in allowing any situation to develop. Insight is the gift you get for learning your lessons and taking another path.
3. Visualize yourself happy in a relationship.
You know what you want and what you don’t want. Have a clear image in your mind of your desired partner and see yourself happy together. Experience how that would feel. The more genuine the feelings are, the more you will attract what you are looking for and what you most deserve.
When you release old baggage from your past, it is very liberating.
You feel a weight lift off your shoulders, setting you free to have a healthy, long term relationship. The time you spend letting go of the past will make you and your potential partner grateful that you took the time to clear your mind, heart and soul to love again.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
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