Have you ever been in love with someone and had to pretend otherwise? Do you love your significant other so much, but they only see you as a friend? There’s nothing worse than having those feelings that you’re falling for someone and then finding out that they do not share the same feelings about you. Having unrequited love can be disappointing, hurtful, and challenging.
What Is Unrequited Love?
Unrequited love is a state of mind or feeling of intense romantic love or desire that is not reciprocated or understood as such by the beloved. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “unrequited love” as:
A time during which a person begins to fall in love emotionally with another person who does not return those feelings.
Types of Unrequited Love
Unrequited love occurs in many forms: a woman pines after a guy who does not return her feelings or wishes; a man falls in love with someone else—his one true love—who is already married, and so on. Please take note that it does not matter who initiates the relationship. If the two parties love each other, but one party does not feel the same way about the other, it is considered unrequited love.
The most common feeling of unrequited love is the longing for a person who is not available (physically, emotionally, socially, psychologically, etc.). Other than that, unrequited love can be in the form of mutual attraction between two people who are already engaged in other relationships. It can also occur as a desire after the break-up with your partner.
Unrequited love happens in all kinds of relationships, including casual dating. You feel special, you imagine a future together, but the other person is never really emotionally available. It can make you feel like your feelings aren’t being acknowledged or that you’re not as unique as you thought.
What Are the Signs of Unrequited Love?
How do you know if it’s love? We can’t read minds. But there are many signs to look out for when trying to figure out what a person feels for you, and many people miss these signs. Here are a few signs that you’re getting unrequited love that every person should be aware of.
1. Signs of denial that show they aren’t interested in
Make no bones about it: Unrequited love hurts. By the end, you’re usually faced with a stark realization that you don’t have a chance. Perhaps you’re not focusing on the subtle indicators at all. These indicators may include casually hugging or touching you and often complimenting you.
Sometimes, the other person might be open and affectionate genuinely. Such people can be confusing because you can’t tell if they like you or not.
2. Seem less interested in moving ahead with the relationships
As you spend more and more time together, they don’t seem too keen on making the same amount of effort. They give excuses as to why it was unimportant, and those critical things always seem to have a way of coming up when you were supposed to get together.
Asking questions about their beliefs and values is a sure way to determine if they love you back or not. If you don’t get any (or few) satisfying answers, then it’s pretty safe to say that your crush doesn’t love you the same way you love them.
3. Trying to adopt their likings to get closer
You may not even have much in common with that person you’re desperately trying to impress, yet you can’t help yourself for some reason. Maybe you start following every sports team your crush is rooting for — even though football isn’t your thing.
4. Avoid your messages and calls
Are you the one who is always making plans with your partner? You’ve planned every hangout, meet-up, movie date, and brunch because you’re tired of waiting for your partner to decide. Or have you noticed that your partner said “yes” to hanging out all weekend but is always unavailable at the last moment?
If you have noticed this for a long time, it’s high time to realize you’re in unrequited love. Besides, some other potential signs the person you’re dating (or are in love with) isn’t severe include taking forever to respond to texts or calls and not trying to explain the reasons for their behavior.
5. Can’t stop thinking about the partner
Unrequited love can make you feel like you aren’t wanted. While you might be able to remember being in a situation where the person you had feelings for did not return that same level of romantic interest, you may find it hard to stop thinking about how much you would have loved to have been allowed to win their heart.
Whenever you fall in love with someone who doesn’t return your feelings, you can be sure that the stress brought on by this unrequited love will do all it can to make things as difficult for you as possible. It has the power to create some of life’s most painful moments and to conjure up a sea of feelings involving fear, anger, anxiety, and countless other emotions.
How to Deal With Unrequited Love?
The experience of physical pain and social rejection shares some neural underpinnings, including a common brain region, according to a study published in 2011. The researchers found that pain and social rejection are associated with increased activity in a part of the brain known as the dorsal posterior insular cortex (DPIC)–a dorsal subdivision of the posterior region of the insula.
For this reason, feelings of despair and sadness are normal reactions to unrequited love. With the help of the below tips, you can better cope with these painful situations.
1. Discuss with your partner
There are many ways a person shows interest in you. They might constantly glance at your practice in class, smile at you, send a text message during the day to say hi, or ask how your day is going. Sometimes these subtle signs lead us to believe they are interested in you.
Talking about what’s been going on between you and the person you like can be challenging, whether you do it face-to-face or over the phone. You could say something that will upset the other person or scare them off altogether. But you might not know what’s going on with them.
2. Don’t force them to love you back
If your friend has rejected you, it can feel like you’ve fallen into a bottomless abyss. You might have little control over your emotions and want to force them to accept your love, but neither of these is the solution.
Cut your losses and move on. If they’re unwilling or uninterested in that, don’t waste your time pining away for someone who isn’t interested. Instead, focus on building a friendly relationship. You can still be friends with someone without any romantic involvement.
3. Start writing down your feelings in a journal
The feelings that come along with unrequited love can be intense. Going through it, you probably feel many different emotions every day. Some range from extreme happiness when you see them. Some range from extreme sadness when you realize they don’t feel the same way. And some are just plain confusing.
Mindfulness can help you cope with unrequited love no matter what you feel. Mindfulness is not just about how we treat our feelings during pleasant moments but also how we relate to our complicated feelings. Mindfulness can help us be more accepting of our emotions and reduce the tendency to judge them as positive or negative.
4. Invest energy into yourself
You probably know how bad it hurts if you have experienced unrequited love. You may have poured your heart and soul into the other person, leaving you empty, alone, and betrayed. But there is something that can help.
To move forward healthily, you must do things that give back to yourself and your feelings. Cultivate what brings you joy.
When to Reach Out for Help?
Unrequited love is painful. Whether you hope that one day your feelings will be returned or are just dealing with a difficult person that makes you feel bad about yourself, it can be hard to handle this type of situation all on your own. If you have been so caught up in unrequited love, try to seek help from a mental health professional when:
- You can’t stop thinking about the person even after they have said they aren’t interested
- Your feelings and thoughts about them affect your daily routine
- Your friends and family members start worrying about you and your behavior
- You start feeling depressed or have thoughts of suicide
When you are in unrequited love, it is customary to be preoccupied with that person during the day. You spend a lot of time thinking about them and want to see them again or get in touch. But if these obsessive feelings go too far and result in further actions such as constantly contacting the person or breaking into their house or office, you could be dealing with an unhealthy obsession. So, get in touch with a therapist who can address this problem.
There are three lessons in this article:
- Unrequited love hurts, but it is possible to heal and move on;
- The lack of a reciprocal romantic relationship probably has more to do with the other person than with us; and
- We need to accept reality before we can move on.
While it may be difficult to understand why someone you love does not feel the same way, it can heal from unrequited love and grow into a more secure person.
- Kross, E., Berman, M. G., Mischel, W., Smith, E. E., & Wager, T. D. (2011). Social rejection shares somatosensory representations with physical pain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(15), 6270–6275. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1102693108
- Aron, A., Aron, E. N., & Allen, J. (1998). Motivations for unreciprocated love. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24(8), 787–796. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167298248001