When the one you love doesn't love you in return
“One of the things we know from history is unrequited love is a great source of inspiration in science, some processes of creativity, art, and problem solving,” Phillips added. “The thought process overlaps with the process of feeling and seeking passionate love. When you think about it, they are parallel…When you’re ready, you can make use of this. It can lead to personal transformation: What is this teaching me? Where do I need to be?” Lisa A Philips -Unrequited: Women and Romantic Obsession
I am speaking from the heart this month on a topic I've lived for over 20 years and haven't really talked about. I decided to explore the phenomenon of unrequited love. So many of us have experienced it and there isn't much space to talk about it in our culture of constant bombardment and "getting over it" quicker and quicker.
How do you explain let alone accept that you still have pain over an un-reciprocated love? A crush that never manifested ? a friendship that became more for one but not the other ? How do we make sense of this one sided love, what we learned from it and what insight it can give us into our own nature ?
Know that you aren’t alone. According to social psychologist and my PT colleague Roy Baumeister, 98% of us have suffered from unrequited love at one time or another. One of the problems with this kind of rejection is that it’s not enough that you feel sad, lonely and broken-hearted. It also makes you feel bad and ashamed—and you start to worry that there is something deeply wrong with you. Psychology Today
There is far too much shaming in our culture now of people expressing healthy grief for any type of loss and we desperately need to bring space and openness back. It is already taboo to show grief over a death beyond a short time frame, and it's ten times worse when the loss is an estrangement (which we often perceive as preventable or fixable) There is perhaps even more taboo to show grief when it is a love relationship that never came to be. Nothing officially started so why do we get to be sad? Why does it linger? Why can't we accept it's not going to work, not mutual - not going to manifest in this lifetime ? We are grieving an ideal. Ideals aren't considered to be real, but they ARE very real. Letting go of an unrequited love is the death of an illusion - one that was vital to some part of us or we wouldn't have hung onto it so deeply for so long. There is a great lesson in this spiritually.
Illusion is common with addiction too, and we may be in this state when the one we love doesn't love us in return. Perhaps not at first, but if we keep our pre-occupation with them alive and obsess over what happened, why, or why not - we can easily become addicted to thinking about them, or daydreaming about the what ifs. Then there is the concrete side of it where perhaps the unrequited love sees us as a friend so they maintain some contact with us, just not the level of frequency or intimacy we want from them, so that also sets us up for an addictive pattern because of their inconsistency. (which also may come from their discomfort with our expectations)
Inconsistency is what keeps people going. There’s something about the idea that maybe, if I just hang in there or I just change myself or just appreciate this nice stuff I get, I’ll get it all the time. But an intermittent relationship tends to be an intermittent relationship. I have never seen a relationship where somebody is on again/off again, and then is suddenly on all the time. In the very beginning, sure, but over time, no.
Staying involves what I call “relentless hope.”
It’s holding onto something when there really is no hope, because you can’t bear to know that.
Maybe you can’t undo the fact that there was someone who didn’t love you in the past, that you couldn’t make love you. So you pick an unloving person or an intermittently loving person and you turn them into the person you want to love you. I think it is really revelatory. You’re going to convert it rather than mourn it.
Here is where the deep work begins - identifying the real reason for our attachment to someone who is not reciprocating our love. This can stem from trying to get love from one of your parents who didn't reciprocate, so you choose someone else and try to win it this time around. It can be just too familiar to feel rejected - live on the small crumbs of attention you got, because that this is all you know. It sets you up for more of the same thing. Or you may not have grieved one loss of someone close and are drawn to those impossible attractions because they won't work ( and some part of us knows it) They keep us distracted deep down from the grieving of another deeper relationship.
Once in a while I also believe there is a karmic connection and major spiritual lesson to be learned that keeps the feelings hanging on way past their shelf life. In those cases it is a deep soul angst that doesn't go away until the reason or lesson is clear. I also often find in those long drawn out cases, where it is not an obsession fantasy, but the feeling continues there is usually a past life connection and memory associated with it, and that can be remembered and cleared. That is where I have felt and seen amazing results.
What is your story of unrequited love?
Are you having trouble moving on or understanding a relationship?
Let me help you get there :)