The feeling of being loved is a magical whirlwind; it is an unexplainable joy. However, when your love isn't returned, it can hurt deeper than anything you have ever felt before. The world can feel like it is crumbling down around you. So, what should you do when you love him, but he doesn't love you?
This article is hopefully going to help you through the tough time you are facing now and bring you out the other side a stronger person who stands emotionally healed and prepared for whatever will come your way.
According to social psychologist Roy Baumeister, 98% of us have suffered from unrequited love at one time or another in our lives, and I can certainly say I have been there and felt the pain it causes. Therefore, as it is something the majority of us go through, I think it's important to talk about the pain that comes with rejection or unrequited love.
Too often, when we hear about the love we hear of the fairy-tale-like process of falling in love and the world of love sounds almost mystical. As much as love is fantastic and joyous, sometimes, no matter how much you love someone, they don't love you back.
So, I'm here to unearth the sometimes-sad reality of love and share details about how we should act when things don't go to plan.
- 1 Deciding whether or not to take action.
- 2 1. Distance yourself from the person.
- 3 2. Check in with your pain and accept it
- 4 3. Clean out all the things that remind you of this person
- 5 4. Surround yourself by people who love you and support you
- 6 5. Start to say yes to everything.
- 7 6. Try to get to know yourself better & love yourself again
- 8 7. Know that you deserve someone who loves you.
- 9 8. Credit yourself for stepping forward and taking control of leaving the relationship
- 10 Conclusion
Deciding whether or not to take action.
Firstly, it is essential to note that unreturned love can happen to anyone, in any situation. It doesn't matter if you're in a relationship or not. It all hurts the same. However, the first action to take when you find yourself in this situation will differ depending on the status of the relationship.
For those in a relationship:
I would suggest that if you are in a full relationship with the person who isn't returning your love, speak to them. Communication is key. Figure out what is going on between you and if what's happening, is for sure, unrequited love. If that is the case, I would suggest not settling for this.
Before you decide to leave the relationship, it is probably best to get an outsider's opinion on your situation, to see if what is going on is unrequited love or other issues. You can possibly seek the help of a relationship counsellor, or even confide in trusted family and friends.
Everyone deserves a healthy and robust relationship where two people share in love, without constant worry if their partner loves them or not. If you were not to leave the relationship, and continue in a one-sided relationship, you are just allowing yourself to get more hurt further down the line.
For those dating:
If you are dating, and feel that they don't love you back, it's not a good idea to go into a relationship with that person. If you do move into a relationship with them, you might be hoping that their love with suddenly gain momentum for you. Being in a formal relationship is not going to change how that person feels about you, and unfortunately, if they're not reciprocating the love, it's probably best to stop the relationship going any further. You deserve the best, from the very start.
Having to leave a relationship or put a halt to seeing someone because the love you give them isn't being reciprocated hurts. I'm not here to sugar coat anything for you. I know that it hurts like hell. It's almost like an exaggerated breakup. You come away feeling disheartened, rejected and with low self-esteem. But reading onwards, you'll see that you can pick yourself and live an even better life without that person. It will get better, and I'm here to help speed along the process of recovery for you.
1. Distance yourself from the person.
Taking time away from the person who has hurt you is the first step to healing yourself. It might also stop things from blowing up – unnecessary arguments or nasty texts. Ask the person who has hurt you to give you some space. If they respect you and care about you, they will appreciate this and leave you to work through how you feel.
Nowadays, social media is hazardous when it comes to trying to move on from someone and get away from your feelings. The easiest thing to do is to block them or defriend them. This will stop yourself from continually clicking on their profile and essentially stalking what they're doing and who they're with. If you think you will call or negatively text them, it may also be useful to delete their phone number. All these things make it easier for you, as you're not constantly reminded of them. If you think they're going to take offence to you unfollowing/deleting them, it might be a good idea to send a civil message to them, explaining its just best if you create some distance between them and you, for now.
2. Check in with your pain and accept it
Ask yourself – How do you feel? Emotional pain not only causes your mind pain but can cause physical pain too. Edward Smith, a Psychologist at Columbia University, researched emotional pain with his team and found out that it activates along the same neural pathways as physical pain.
Therefore, being in the situation of unrequited love can hurt physically – as if you've been punched in the gut. If you think about it, we are all familiar with the physical feeling of pain –think back to a negative emotional event that occurred in the past, you can still feel the pain lying in your stomach.
If you can recognise that the pain as normal when it comes up, you are already on your way to moving on. What you are feeling is normal – it's horrible, but it is normal. Countless people before you have felt the way you are feeling right now, and they are now living happy lives. I promise you, the pain will start to get better.
However, it is crucial to keep track of how you feel as rejection can cause or trigger mental health problems. If you start to notice you are thinking very negative thoughts, feeling helpless or thinking about harming yourself – you need to know that this is not normal. It could indicate that you are falling into depression. If you are feeling like this, please see a mental health practitioner or speak to someone you can trust.
Now you have accepted your pain is normal, is time to embrace the sadness – for a while.
This might be an unusual thing to recommend, but you need to allow yourself time to get upset. You need to get it all out of your system. If you brush the feelings off and fake that you're okay, the emotions are just going to bubble up inside you, and they will come out at some point. Most likely, when you aren't expecting it. It is better to address the sadness you are feeling as soon as possible, so then you can get on with your life as a healed individual, who isn't going to burst into an unexpected breakdown anytime soon.
Now, it is important to note I am not telling you to go into a grieving state and put off real-life for weeks on end, but initially, it is vital to get all your negative emotions out. Some things you can do initially are as follows:
– Crying can be very therapeutic. Admittedly, we are all aware of the almost cleansed state you feel after having a good cry. So, if you feel like crying, cry.
– Get immersed in art. Do something that soothes you, whether that be painting, playing music or writing. Art is an excellent way to express your emotions.
– Do exercise. This is a really overlooked point, but exercise can be fantastic if you are feeling upset or angry. Scientifically, endorphins are released after working out, which is guaranteed to make you feel better. But also, if you're feeling angry or frustrated, maybe take a class of kickboxing – it will help to release all the pent-up energy, in a safe way.
After you have been able to release most of this sad energy out from within you, you will definitely begin to feel better. Hopefully, you will feel like you're almost cleansed from the sadness.
3. Clean out all the things that remind you of this person
Now you've cleared your head, it is just as important to clean your space physically. Gather together all the items that remind you of your love. This can be anything from small gifts from him to pictures on your phone of the two of you. Get rid of it. Get free of it all. Otherwise, every time you see that little cuddly teddy-bear in your bedroom, you will think of him.
The clearing out process can also be very therapeutic. You are absolutely entitled to cry as you throw things away. I would recommend saying goodbye to him in your mind, as you say goodbye to the things that are associated with him.
After throwing all the objects out, why not indulge a little in filling your space with things that can bring you a new sense of happiness now? You have wanted a small plant in your room for a while, but maybe there hadn't been enough space? Well, now there is.
While I am definitely encouraging treating yourself, I do not recommend recklessly spending money. Any reckless behaviour while going through a rejection can be a cause of concern.
4. Surround yourself by people who love you and support you
After being a victim of unrequited love, you will most likely feel like your self-esteem has been knocked. So, it is vital that make a conscious effort to be surrounded by those who love you and want the best for you. These people will most likely include your closest friends and family. They are your support network – when things go wrong, they always have your back. They will build your confidence up, even if you don't feel self-confident. They will show you affection. Your heart needs to be reminded that it is worthy of love– of course, it is, but I understand that right now you might not be thinking that. They will be there when you need a shoulder to cry on, and they will be there to take your phone off you if possibly you've had one too many glasses of wine and the last thing you need to be doing is calling him.
Surrounding yourself and spending time with family and friends can make you feel so much better. It might also help to speak with them about the situation because I'm sure a lot of them have been through the very same thing before. Spending time with loved ones can also open you up to new opportunities in life that you wouldn't have been able to take advantage of or fully enjoy if you had stayed in the loveless relationship.
5. Start to say yes to everything.
If your friends ask you to dinner, go. If your family invite you to go on holiday with them, go. If an opportunity comes up at your work to go for a promotion, do it. Once you start to be more open to life, life will offer you more. As they say, when one door closes, another one opens. This doesn't have to be taken in the sense of losing a romantic partner and straight away getting a new one, (In fact, at this point I would steer clear of trying to make any romantic connections. You need to work through how you feel and start to love yourself again first before you can try to love anyone else). But this can simply mean that something good will be coming its way because you have closed a chapter of your life that no longer serves you.
Another really beneficial thing you should do is to try new things. If you've ever wanted to try new hobbies or to meet new people, now is a great time to start doing that. Get involved with your local charity, join an art class or arrange weekly friend meetups. Things like this can also be beneficial if you used to spend lots of time with him and you're feeling a little lost on how to fill that time now.
Once your social life and work-life are on the up, you might realise how much you accomplish now that you're not uncontrollably sad over someone who can't give you what you deserve anyway. Being busy will not only take your mind away from anxious thoughts if they creep in, but it is also necessary. It sounds brutal, but you can actually use this to your motivation – the world doesn't stop because you feel upset.
6. Try to get to know yourself better & love yourself again
After pouring love towards someone for so long, you might have forgotten to focus on yourself. You need to really appreciate yourself, now more than ever. So why not spend some time pouring love towards yourself for a change?
You might feel like you're not ‘good enough' or that it was your fault that the love was unrequited. This is absolutely not the case, but I know that it can feel like that. So, make sure you give yourself some good self-care and self-love. When you are alone, it is a really fantastic time to really get to know yourself and what you want going forward. Work towards personal development, look deep inside, ask yourself some of life's big questions like what truly makes you happy or think about where you want to see yourself in five years.
Moving forward romantically, if you know yourself, you are not only going to be a more attractive partner, but you will most likely not go for someone who is wrong for you. So, start now. Get to know yourself and show yourself some love. You really deserve it.
7. Know that you deserve someone who loves you.
Finally, you should realise that you are deserving of love – real, mutual love. This man was clearly no good for you if he didn't love you in the way that you loved him. Once you have conquered your way through feeling emotional and in pain, you can start to think about the relationship from a purely non-biased, level headed view. I am confident that when you look back over it, you will be able to see that even before the point of acknowledging the unrequited love, he wasn't the right one for you.
You can look back on the relationship you shared as an experience — a learning curve.
You have learnt from the experience and will have grown as a person in so many ways. It is also essential to add that in the process of letting go of him and the relationship you shared, you have opened yourself up to the prospect that real love will come your way.
8. Credit yourself for stepping forward and taking control of leaving the relationship
Well done. Instead of choosing to stay in a one-sided relationship, you decided to break free and suffer the pain that comes with that. You clearly had high regard for your self-worth and knew what you truly deserved the whole time, even if it didn't feel like it. Now that you have torn down the barrier that was stopping you from finding true love, a whole world of pure romance is opened up to you.
You should be exceptionally proud that you have survived the emotional distress and healed yourself through it. Although it is a heart-breaking situation, you will have learnt so many lessons throughout this whole process, and you will be ready for real love when it comes around, and it will. It will be the type of love you don't even need to question; you will just be able to feel it.
“Someday you're going to look back on this moment of life as such a sweet time of grieving. You will see that you were in mourning, and your heart was broken, but your life was changing”. – Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love.
If you're still a little curious, please see this Youtube video by Psych2Go about dealing with unrequited love
I really hope I was able to help some of you through the horrific pain that is being a victim of unrequited love. I'm included in the 98% of people who have been in this situation at some point in their life, and it is really tough. When I went through it, I couldn't find articles on what I should be doing or how I could have helped myself, sp I was inspired to write this.
I think it is vital not only to be open about the positive aspects of falling in love, but also the bits that aren't so great, and how to overcome the pain when it happens.
Did this article help you to overcome the situation of someone not loving you back?
If it did and you liked what you read, please let us know in the comments and share it with anyone you feel needs to see this.
If you have any questions about what's written, it would be great to hear from you.
And of course, if you want to share any personal stories about your experiences with unrequited love, or you have any tips that helped you overcome the pain, please let us know.