Few things can be as agonizing and painful as unrequited love. When you long for someone who doesn’t love you, it can be frustrating, humiliating, depressing and it can make you feel really terrible.
There is lots of well-meant advice that you will get – from (supposedly) cheerful comments like: “Don’t worry, there are 6 billion people on planet earth, you will find the right one.” to “Don’t let this drag you down so much – do something fun, something that get’s your mind off of him (or her).”
But the distressing truth is: all this won’t help you as easily as they make it seem to be.
When you meet the person you adore, you’ll automatically memorize every detail of what they say – and you’ll study them – you’ll come to understand their preferences, how they grew up, and so on. All this just to be able to make them happy, to maybe give them their favourite food one day or come up with an idea that shows them how much you care, and how well you truely understand them.
When you meet them, you scan their body language, you read between the lines of what they say, to maybe find any hint or clue that indicates that finally, they secretly have fallen in love with you too.
If you’re still in that stage, you haven’t yet come to grips with the fact that it’s better to move on. Better to accept that they don’t love you and – as harsh and cruel as it sounds – never will. As long you still have hope for them falling in love with you, your suffering will continue.
So, that is the first step. But… where is that “unlove button” that you just have to push to stop loving someone? Oh, right, I forgot: there is none. Love is much stronger than the mind, than all the rational thinking we can muster up. It’s a mighty force we can’t conquer easily.
It comes at you in the form of fantasies and daydreams of what could be. Chinese water torture is a ride in the park compared to what this does to you emotionally.
Maybe the person you love knows it already. Maybe you told him or her. Maybe someone else did. Maybe it’s just so plain obvious that words weren’t necessary. If they know, there are different ways in which they react – but chances are that they will always feel slightly weird and uncomfortable when you are around once they know.
It doesn’t matter how much other people care about you, how much they respect and love you – because the only one that matters doesn’t. This can really wear you down and have a heavy toll on your confidence and your self-image. You might ask yourself: “What’s wrong with me? Why am I not good enough?”
I hate to tell this to you, because I know it may sound like I’m talking down to you, but I’m really not. I’m just talking from experience and asking you to answer a question for yourself, just to be sure. The question I want to answer is: “Was there a person early in my life – my childhood or my teenage years – who’s approval I tried to get, but never felt I did?” If so, that’s a good thing, because it means that your suffering has more to do with yourself than with the other person, and it’s a lot easier to do something about that. Because in that case unrequited love might be “just” a learned pattern that you have to unlearn. If not, things are more difficult.
Love without reciprocitation has been the subject of art, music and literature for millennia, and of movies for decades. A recent character was Charlie Brown from the “Peanuts” cartoon who’s in love with the little red-haired girl, that doesn’t care about him. Another famous story is that of Cyrano de’Bergerac, or the Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Great Gatsby, the Phantom of the Opera…
Being lovesick this way is no small thing, and that’s something that most people don’t understand. It can lead to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, extreme mood swings and more. Dr. Frank Tallis, a clinical psychologist in London, said that unrequited love can lead to symptoms like mania, elevated mood, inflated self-esteem, depression, insomnia and obsessive compulsive behaviour and more. And clinical psychologist Prof Alex Gardner believes that people can literally die from a broken heart.
That is why you absolutely should do something about it. Don’t just hope that it will get better on it’s own. Don’t just wish for a miracle. Don’t make the “time will heal my wounds mistake”.