- Unrequited Love
- What Is Unrequited Love?
- The Love Chemicals
- Rejection Hurts
- Grieving and Mourning With Unrequited Love
- Getting Over Unrequited Love: Effective Coping Mechanisms
- Unrequited Love Conclusion
- Unrequited love — What is unrequited love?
- What is unrequited love?
- How do you know you’re experiencing unrequited love?
- What does unrequited love feel ?
- How to deal with unrequited love
- 1. Reflect on the situation objectively
- 2. Take off the rose-tinted glasses
- 3. Be honest with yourself
- 4. Set boundaries
- 5. Reflect on your internal beliefs
- 6. Learn from it!
- Is Unrequited Love Really Love?
- What is unrequited love?
- How to overcome unrequited love?
- Is Unrequited Love Really Love — Or Something Else Entirely?
- Examples of unrequited love:
- Signs of unrequited love.
- 1. They're actively maintaining distance from you.
- 2. They make themselves romantically available for others but not for you.
- 3. Your efforts feel unbalanced in the relationship.
- Is unrequited love really love?
- What causes unrequited love?
- How to deal with unrequited love.
By: Dylan Buckley
Updated October 12, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Laura Angers
Unrequited love is complicated. It's often said that love hurts, but when you're the only one in love, it can seem as though it hurts twice as much.
When you're in love with someone, you envision a future with them, you think about them, and you may even obsess a little, but all you want is what's best for them, which is what makes unrequited love different from infatuation.
Not getting the love you want back can be extraordinarily painful when you have so strong a connection with someone. Fortunately enough, there are always remedies, and we will cover some as we dive deeper into these issues.
If you're dealing with unrequited love, you can often feel alone in your struggle and unable to cope with your pain. But most people will encounter it at some point in their life. No matter how isolated you may feel during your experience, you are not alone and you are definitely able to move on and find someone who does feel the same for you!
Let's learn more about unrequited love and how to take the first steps toward healing.
What Is Unrequited Love?
Sometimes love isn't all it's cracked up to be. It's often said that in every relationship, there is a lover and a lovee-one person always loves a little harder. In unrequited love, it isn't just that one person loves harder but that the other partner (if they're even in a relationship) may not love them at all.
Unrequited love is when you have strong feelings for someone but they do not feel the same, they may not even know about your feelings.
There is a fine line between unrequited love and infatuation, since both are usually about people not in a relationship together. But love is about caring for another person over yourself, while an infatuation is all about the self.
That's why unrequited love can be love-it's just love that's not returned.
Unrequited love means that your feelings are just that-only yours.
That said, unrequited love is not something that only happens to singles. Unrequited love can also happen to people who are in a relationship together. People change and may grow apart, which means one partner may fall love with the other or may simply not feel the same anymore.
While this isn't the usual definition, it is the most common one couples will encounter.
Situations this are difficult because they may be embarrassed about it or may seek other avenues of affection cheating rather than come clean to their partner that their feelings have changed and risk ending the relationship.
Falling love can happen during a relationship for many reasons-communication may have broken down, the couple may have different interests, and there may even be previous issues cheating that have damaged trust and made one partner more closed off or unavailable. Despite the cause, it is possible to fix a relationship where love has been lost if both partners are willing to try.
The Love Chemicals
While sex hormones estrogen and testosterone are involved in getting us towards the physical act of love, they're not powerful enough to create the feelings that come before and after. You can have sex without being in love and you can have love without sex (despite what most people think).
These two hormones are minor when it comes to unrequited love. Most of the hormones involved in the love process noradrenaline and serotonin don't cause pain. They're involved in getting you pumped up and euphoric about love, especially in the beginning.
The real culprits are dopamine and oxytocin.
Both dopamine and oxytocin have addictive qualities. Studies have found evidence of the way cocaine addict's brains react to dopamine which drives them to chase their next «fix.» When we are in love, our brains release dopamine. Dopamine is a feel-good chemical that gives you euphoria when you're near the person you love. It's heady and because we all enjoy feeling good, the moment that person is away, the feeling dies down and we crave more-so much so that our brains will do anything to get their «fix.» This is where the pain comes in. We become stressed, anxious, and feel the physical need of being with the person to fix the «pain» from the drop in dopamine levels. But dopamine is only partially to blame for unrequited attachment.
Part of being in love involves creating a bond with a person. The chemical oxytocin creates this. It's found in all bonding situations, including between a breastfeeding mother and a baby and between humans and pets. When we bond with another creature we experience a sense of contentment and calm in their presence.
It becomes reassuring to be near them and spurs our brains to produce even more dopamine, making the cycle even worse.
If you have unrequited love, it's very possible your brain produced oxytocin as well as dopamine once you realized you were attracted to the person, which is why the pain is so much worse than if you had merely been attracted to them and it wasn't reciprocated.
It's not just the chemical pain we experience with unrequited love. Rejection has its own set of psychological pain that can do plenty of damage to your self-esteem.
No one wants to think of themselves as unlovable, so being rejected makes us question why we are not good enough or what is wrong with ourselves, rather than realizing it is only a reflection of that other person and not something we have control over.
Physiologically, rejection uses the same neurological pathways as physical pain.
The idea of rejection goes back to survival instincts honed in prehistory when humans lived in tribes. At that time, rejection by the tribe meant death as you would not survive on your own.
The feeling of rejection caused pain much the same way as putting your hand in the fire. Those that didn't feel pain with rejection would have been less ly to survive.
The brain releases natural painkillers (the same as those for physical pain) during a rejection situation because it «thinks» the pain is physical.
When you're rejected, your body reacts the same way as if you had been physically hit or burned. With unrequited love, this rejection is often a repeated action that may be subtler but the body responds the same way. Our feelings are hurting us when love isn't returned.
Grieving and Mourning With Unrequited Love
When you're rejected, you are launched into a grieving process for a perceived future that will never happen.
While this is all ly to be created in your head, love often leads us to imagining a future without the person we love, meaning you'll mourn not only their absence but that future as well.
You'll wonder whether things will get better and whether that person will ever realize how great the future you imagined together could have been-if only you'd worked out.
Grief and loss bring their own set of pains. Grief is a personal feeling-it's something no one understands because the «future» is entirely imagined within your head. No one knew or saw it, so you're grieving a fantasy.
Our lives will never be the same as we imagine, which is normal, but with grief connected to love, it's doubly painful because we're often triggering additional fears and issues with that loss. The normal grief that involves death or a break up has a definitive before/after which makes recovery much easier.
In the case of unrequited love, that doesn't happen, which leaves a vacuum where there is no closure.
Unrequited love is a complicated situation because you're simultaneously in love and mourning.
You love the person but you're mourning something that will never happen or may never have existed.
It shatters our hopes and with the loss of hope, many other psychological fears start to come out. Without hope, we become despondent and even depressed. However, this can be fixed over time.
Getting Over Unrequited Love: Effective Coping Mechanisms
While time is arguably the most valuable resource you have in the battle against the unwanted effects of unrequited love, there are other tools you have at your disposal you can use to combat the pain of rejection. Here are three effective strategies you can use if you are coping with unreciprocated love.
1. Stay Busy When Possible
As it is when you have broken up with someone, staying busy will allow you to keep your mind off the pain of unrequited love. By keeping yourself busy with your work, with some of your favorite hobbies, or by spending time with friends and family, you will allow yourself to get back to your own life and give yourself time for the pain to heal.
2. Build a Solid Support Network
Remember, you are not alone. Plenty of people have walked in your shoes and plenty more will follow. Surround yourself with a strong support network of people who will be there for you as you work through these issues.
3. Strengthen Your Relationship with Yourself
While having a relationship with someone else can certainly be pleasant, we forget that we have someone there for us 24/7: ourselves. Take this opportunity to learn more about yourself and to fall in love with who you are. You may very well be surprised with what you find.
Getting over a relationship that never happened can be tough.
All the usual techniques don't work because the person was never yours to begin with, not to mention the fact that you're dealing with several other complex emotions as well.
Hopefully, over time, the feelings will lessen and you'll be able to move on. If you're struggling to move on and find yourself obsessing about the unrequited affection, then maybe it's time to seek professional help.
Although you will have to do some of the work on your own, a licensed psychologist can help you find a healthier way of expressing your emotions and teach you techniques that focus on improving yourself. Sites BetterHelp allow you to search therapists and counselors and find someone who will work for you. Additionally, they have relationship counselors if you're looking to try and fix your relationship and bring love back.
BetterHelp is an online platform, so you can easily connect with a certified therapist who will work with your schedule and help you in the comfort of your own home. The therapists at BetterHelp have a proven track record of making a difference. Consider the following reviews of BetterHelp counselor, from people experiencing similar issues.
«A year ago I was experiencing difficulties in my relationship, which highly affected my psychological state and interfered with my work. At one point, I decided to try BetterHelp.com. My counselor Dr. Brewer helped me to see some things I couldn't on my own and encouraged me to prioritize myself. It was a huge help for me at that point, which led to the decisions I am happy about.»
«Patricia is amazing. She helped me through some relationship problems. I am extremely grateful for her support. She is very kind and explains difficult situations in a way that they make sense. I especially loved the fact that she sends you a summary of your session so you can get back to it at any time. It helped me a lot. I felt very lucky to have had Patricia as my counselor.»
Unrequited Love Conclusion
Unrequited love is a part of life, but the pain that accompanies it does not have to be forever. You are not alone. Move forward with a life that makes you happy, and you will be able to find love with someone who is going to love you back. Take the first step today.
Unrequited love is a part of life, but the pain that accompanies it does not have to be forever. You are not alone. Move forward with a life that makes you happy, and you will be able to find love with someone who is going to love you back. Take the first step today.
Unrequited love — What is unrequited love?
Unrequited love: it's the topic of many a love song and sad movie. And with so many of us experiencing it at one point or another, it's no wonder why. Loving someone who doesn't love you back can hurt just as much as (or even more than) a breakup, but it's often the less talked about form of heartbreak.
So, what is unrequited love, why is it so painful, and how can you deal with it?
What is unrequited love?
Unrequited love is basically love you have for someone that isn't returned back. This can mean someone you're not with that you want to be with (which is probably the kind we hear about most often), or it can also happen in a relationship that has become one-sided.
Other forms of unrequited love can include falling for someone who is emotionally unavailable, pining for an ex, or being in a 'relationship' with someone who won't formally commit to you, explains Kendra Senn-Allen, founder of Break Up Bestie, and who runs courses helping people deal to with breakups and heartbreak.
You might also have unrequited love for someone completely unattainable, a lecturer at uni, a work colleague who already has a partner, or even someone famous, says Relate counsellor Holly Roberts — and the fact that they're reach can actually intensify your feelings of love for them, she explains.
Peyton FulfordGetty Images
How do you know you’re experiencing unrequited love?
Sometimes, it can be hard to pinpoint where your feelings are coming from. But if it's unrequited love you're feeling for someone in your life, it might mean that the reality of their interactions with you are different to the idealised version of them you already have in your head.
«It’s possible to romanticise and project wonderful qualities onto someone when you’re not living the daily mundane routine with them,» says Holly. Instead, she suggests taking a step back to see the situation more clearly. «Try to take a realistic view and notice whether the object of your desire is expressing the same level of love that you are for them.»
Similarly, if you're in a relationship, you might notice signs that your love for your partner is becoming one-sided, particularly if they start to distance themselves from you, Holly adds.
What does unrequited love feel ?
When you love someone who doesn't feel the same way, it can be confusing to understand why, particularly if you've expressed your affection — which can make things even more frustrating.
«If we have such strong feelings for someone else it may be hard to understand why they don’t feel the same way about us,» explains Holly. «We’re too immersed in our own feelings to get some distance to properly empathise with how the other person is feeling.»
Unrequited love can also lead to feelings of rejection, which can make you doubt yourself and think you've done something wrong (even though that's not the case).
Kendra says this can really take a toll on your self-esteem. «People will often blame themselves for why they're not getting reciprocated love,» she explains. «I often hear things , 'I'm not good enough, if only I was prettier or smarter they would be able to commit or show me love,'» she adds — and this can also create a lot of anxiety.
Catarina InacioGetty Images
When it comes to why unrequited love is so painful, it's actually because it's pretty similar to grief.
«We are chasing after something we’re never able to reach, so we have feelings of loss which are the same as grief,» explains Holly. «It hurts to mourn the loss of someone, whether it was a romantic relationship that never even started, or reaching the end of the road with a long term partner,» — so it's totally OK to feel heartbroken over a relationship that never happened.
How to deal with unrequited love
Just getting over a breakup, it's possible to get over unrequited love too. Our experts recommend trying the following:
1. Reflect on the situation objectively
When you're wrapped up in how you feel about someone, it can be hard to see things from their point of view. But looking at things from a more objective perspective can be helpful, says Holly. «This will allow you to be kind to yourself, knowing that there are other factors influencing what’s going on; them not loving you is not just because you’re a terrible person.»
2. Take off the rose-tinted glasses
If you're loving someone from afar, you've probably created an idealised version of them — but it can help to try to see them for who they really are, says Holly.
«Doing this will help you see their flaws and work towards knowing that they aren’t the best person for you,» she explains.
Margo OvcharenkoGetty Images
3. Be honest with yourself
When you're hoping someone will love you back, it can be hard to admit that your love is unrequited. But, «determining that there is a problem and how it's affecting you is a great first step,» says Kendra.
«I always recommend that clients get really honest with themselves through journaling; ask yourself how the relationship [or the situation] is going and how it makes you feel,» she explains.
«Unfortunately, we can't change other people, so it's usually unly that [someone] will go from being unavailable to available,» Kendra adds — and it helps to be realistic about that, no matter how difficult it is.
4. Set boundaries
If you're in a relationship or situationship where your love isn't returned, Kendra suggests setting boundaries about the kind of commitment you expect. «The key to that is, if they can't meet your boundary, then you have to walk away,» she explains.
Rochelle Brock / Refinery29 for Getty ImagesGetty Images
«Another exercise I have my clients do is write down what they picture in a long-term relationship,» Kendra adds. «Once that's written down and is compared to their current situation, it usually becomes clear that what they're in isn't working.
«The more clear you can be on what you want, the less ly you'll stay in a relationship with unrequited love.»
5. Reflect on your internal beliefs
While it's never your fault that somebody else is emotionally unavailable, Kendra suggests that if you notice a pattern of experiencing unrequited love, it's worth thinking about how that might link to your internal beliefs about yourself.
«For example, I had a client who kept going after emotionally unavailable men, and she had to realise it was because she didn't think she was worthy of being committed to,» Kendra explains. So, if you do think your self-beliefs are affecting your relationships, Kendra says therapy is an option to help you work through them.
6. Learn from it!
At the end of the day, our experiences make us who we are. Holly says learning from unrequited love will help you to know yourself better, and to have a better idea of the love and care you deserve — which can only be a good thing.
Find more information on Break Up Bestie and Kendra's courses here.
Relate provides relationship counselling to couples, families and individuals. They are also offering FREE 30 minute WebChats with Relationships and Wellbeing Advisors to anyone aged 18+ who is living in England and affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Find out more at the Relate hub.
SUBSCRIBE HERE to have Cosmopolitan delivered to your door.
this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles this delivered straight to your inbox.
LOOKING FOR YOUR NEXT FAVOURITE PODCAST? LISTEN TO COSMOPOLITAN'S ALL THE WAY WITH… ON APPLE PODCASTS, SPOTIFY, ACAST
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io
Is Unrequited Love Really Love?
Of all the emotions that have been studied, love certainly remains the most interesting one.
Of all the emotions that have been studied, love certainly remains the most interesting one. We cannot choose to “not” fall for someone. Irrespective of our social conditioning, education, and ambitions, we sometimes find ourselves falling head over heels for someone.
Science had dissected love to a chemical reaction attributable to the hormones oxytocin and dopamine in the brain. These are secreted in both unrequited and mutual love. Therefore, in a way, both types of love are equally genuine.
We are social animals. We are genetically meant to search for a person who is the most suitable to our temperament and pheromones. Often, in this fast-paced world, however, we may have feelings for a person that are not reciprocated. It may be because of various reasons such as lack of mutual chemistry, lack of will from either side and different socioeconomic preferences.
Unrequited or unreciprocated love has been an inspiration behind many forms of arts and proses. As much as it is important not to shy away from relationships, one must always be attuned to situations where one is not appreciated. It is important to love yourself enough to avoid unhealthy coping behaviors in unrequited love.
- There are times when unrequited love can affect your perception of the world and yourself and thus your self-esteem.
- Unreturned love can be consuming and crippling and hinder your ability to live your life.
- Realizing that your feelings are not reciprocated can be hurtful and frustrating or may even make you angry.
- It may set in motion unhealthy behaviors such as addictions, self-harm, anxiety, and rebound relationships.
It is always advised to learn from unrequited love and move on to find the love of your life.
What is unrequited love?
Unrequited love is an experience of loving someone without them loving you back. When your feelings are not reciprocated, your thoughts and emotions can go haywire. There are two main types of unrequited love:
- The first type of unrequited love occurs when you have started a relationship with someone, but their interest in you wanes over time.
- The second type of unrequited love occurs when your interest in someone isn’t returned from the outset. You may be confused about the other person’s true feelings, or it may already be apparent that this other person simply isn’t interested in you.
It’s critical to know the signs of unrequited love so that you can identify the problem and quickly move on:
- You’re getting nothing when you give everything.
- You’re always finding ways to spend time around them, but those efforts are not reciprocated.
- You get jealous when they spend time with others.
- You constantly feel underappreciated.
- Thinking of them fills you with anxiety.
- There’s no physical contact.
- They avoid spending time with you.
The 14 Most Common Causes of Fatigue See Slideshow
How to overcome unrequited love?
Below are few ways to overcome unrequited love:
- Acceptance and mourning: Mourning is the process of adapting to a loss and integrating grief. Unrequited love can be one of the most intense grief you will ever experience in your life. Recognizing the grief and letting go form an integral part of the moving-on process. Repressing emotions will not heal you in the long run. Take out some time to grieve and slowly re-envisioning the future, in which there is a possibility for happiness without your ex. Cry, write, and talk about it. Go for a run or walk daily. Try to love yourself first before searching for another being to fulfill your vacuum.
- Love and pamper yourself: Loving yourself is often a healthy practice. Take time for yourself. Go out shopping, get a makeover done, and do all your favorite things. This is one of the best medicines to get over one-sided love. Go for spa massages, head for a small trip, and do anything that makes you happy. This will also give you time to introspect.
- Do not look for reasons or a closure: Life does not always offer closures. Do not obsess over the reasons why it didn’t work out. Sometimes, it is no one’s fault. It is important to realize everybody has a choice to love or not love another. Learn to exit with grace.
- No social media stalking: The first thing you need to do to get over this one-sided obsession is to stop stalking them on social media. It doesn’t matter what they post, who they are with, and where they hang out. All these updates might affect you, so either delete them or stay away from them.
- Accept the pain as a small phase: The healing process is about acceptance, and acceptance is about validating the pieces that were hard and invalidating those which aren’t true. The good news is the intensity of your current feelings won’t last forever. While you’ll probably always remember this time in your life, the emotions around it will dull and, eventually, heal.
- Know you’re not alone: Love and heartache are extremely personal experiences. However, they’re also universal. Knowing that this is an experience most people will have in their life can help ease feelings of shame or embarrassment.
- Socialize: The best way to get yourself diverted is being with your friends and family. Spend time with them, hang out with them often, and just have fun. The one thing you need right now is to be not reminded of that phase when you loved somebody who didn’t love you back. There are people out there who will love you. You just need to commit yourself to finding them.
- Set boundaries for yourself: We feed our obsession when we need to be starving it. To stop focusing on them and regain control, you might have to be strict with yourself. ly this is going to mean ending all communication with the other person. This could mean unfollowing their socials and deleting their contact. If you feel the urge to contact them, try reaching out to a friend instead.
Medically Reviewed on 3/5/2021
The Prevalence and Nature of Unrequited Love: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/2158244013492160 https://www.uptodate.com/contents/grief-and-bereavement-in-adults-clinical-features?search=unrequited%20love&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~46&usage_type=default&display_rank=1
Is Unrequited Love Really Love — Or Something Else Entirely?
Contributing Sex & Relationships Editor By Kelly Gonsalves Contributing Sex & Relationships Editor
Kelly Gonsalves is a sex educator, relationship coach, and journalist. She received her journalism degree from Northwestern University, and her writings on sex, relationships, identity, and wellness have appeared at The Cut, Vice, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and elsewhere.
Have you ever had strong feelings for someone who didn't feel the same way about you? That wistful, heartbreaking experience is sometimes called unrequited love—but is it the same as real love?
Unrequited love is love that is not mutual or reciprocated; one person loves someone who does not love them back. The word requite literally means to return or to repay.
The term unrequited love, in particular, carries an intentionally dramatic or romantic connotation to it, in part because the phrase appears so often throughout classic literature and poetry and continues to be a popular theme in books, movies, and music today.
Of course, unrequited love does happen in real life as well.
«While it commonly occurs between a person who falls in love with someone who is physically or emotionally unavailable, it can also occur between two friends who share a deep level of intimacy,» licensed marriage and family therapist Weena Cullins, LCMFT, tells mbg. «One friend's feelings may shift from platonic to romantic while the other friend's feelings remain compartmentalized.»
Unrequited love can be deeply painful for the person who's in love, in part because it often means they will not get to share life with this person as fully or deeply as they want. The lack of reciprocity may also feel rejection or condemnation of their worth.
That said, according to couples' therapist Alicia Muñoz, LPC, some people may actually enjoy the sense of drama and drive that unrequited love may bring to their life.
«Although unrequited love gets a bad rap, it can actually be thrilling and addictive.
Even when it's emotionally painful to want someone who is reach or who doesn't respond to you, unrequited love can heighten your sense of self through the painful dramas it creates.»
Wanting something so desperately can make a person feel alive or a hero in an epic love story—so much so that they intentionally lean into the feelings and the valorizing narrative of unrequited love. It makes for a very complex experience.
Examples of unrequited love:
- Falling in love with someone who doesn't feel the same way
- Developing romantic feelings for a friend who only sees you as a friend
- Wanting to be with someone who's already in another relationship
- Wanting to be with someone you can't be with for some reason (e.g., they live far away, you work together, etc.)
- Wanting to get back together with an ex who has moved on
- Developing strong romantic feelings for a famous person or celebrity
Signs of unrequited love.
Usually a person knows when they're experiencing unrequited love: You have romantic feelings for someone who you're not romantically involved with and who you know ly doesn't have the same feelings for you. But in some situations, perhaps you're receiving mixed signals from the object of your affection and can't actually tell whether the feelings are mutual or not.
According to Cullins, here are a few signs to look for that indicate you're not on the same page:
1. They're actively maintaining distance from you.
If the person you maintains firm boundaries whenever you try to express your feelings for them, Cullins says that's a sign your love is ly not reciprocated. «For example, if you suggest that you and your love interest go on a formal date or spend intimate time alone, they may repeatedly decline or suggest activities that don't foster a romantic connection.»
Pay attention to their body language when you're around them and how they respond when you indicate that you them and want to get to know them better. If they don't seem eager to spend time together and get closer to you, they probably don't feel the same way you do.
2. They make themselves romantically available for others but not for you.
Do they talk about how much they want to be in a relationship but then dodge the topic when you mention you're interested? That's probably not a good sign, says Cullins. «If they express an openness to meeting new people and/or dating after you've clearly expressed a romantic interest in them, this may be an indicator that your love is unrequited.»
3. Your efforts feel unbalanced in the relationship.
Pay attention to whether they're putting in as much time, energy, attention, and care into the relationship as you are, Cullins suggests. «If you find yourself consistently considering your love interest first but seeing signs that they don't consider you nearly as much, that may be an indicator of unrequited love.»
A person who s you will put active effort into building a connection with you. If the relationship is more one-sided, it may be because the other person's feelings just aren't there.
Is unrequited love really love?
«Languishing in a state of unrequited love makes for high drama in literature and movies. But unrequited love isn't love,» Muñoz says.
The thing about unrequited love is that people most often experience it toward someone they don't actually know that well or someone who hasn't actually opened up to them fully. So in some ways, unrequited love may be closer to infatuation than real love in most situations.
«It will often masquerade as love, though, for people who feel incomplete, which many of us do at different points in our lives. When we feel incomplete, it's tempting to fall for an idealized 'other.' We imagine this successful, wise, attractive, famous, powerful, or talented person will complete us and help us feel whole—if only they'd love us back,» Muñoz explains.
Perhaps unrequited love is better defined simply as longing—longing for someone so desperately that it feels love, even when it's not.
What causes unrequited love?
According to Muñoz, unrequited love may have more to do with a person's own inner challenges than with the love interest they're so attached to.
«Unrequited love happens when we project our own disowned traits or potential onto another person, idealize that person, and then languish because that person doesn't reciprocate our feelings,» she explains.
«In this way, we remain caught up in a simplified 'love' drama that absolves us of the need to embrace ourselves with both our positive and negative aspects—or to embrace another person with all of their positive and negative aspects.
Instead, we come to view another person as our holy grail.»
In some ways, unrequited love can also be an easy way out—a way to avoid the challenges of real love, according to Muñoz.
«The external drama we create through indulging in unrequited love for prolonged periods of time saves us from the messiness and disappointment of cultivating real love and loving a real person rather than a fantasy or a projection. Sometimes it even protects us from processing traumas we've experienced in past relationships that we don't want to face,» she explains.
«Real love is about facing hard truths about ourselves and others with compassion, cultivating connection, and overcoming challenges as a team. Real love involves risk, vulnerability, and courage. Loving someone who doesn't love you back is a way of controlling the narrative by avoiding the unpredictability of real love and the maturity real love requires.»
While unrequited love can hurt quite badly, the experience itself is not inherently unhealthy or bad. After all, people can't control the way they feel or how much they someone.
«Unrequited love isn't bad,» Muñoz says. «Most people experience it at some point or another, especially in their teens and 20s when they're exploring relationships, eroticism, and romance.
But when unrequited love becomes a pattern—or when you remain mired in a state of experiencing unrequited love for someone in a way that affects the quality of your life—then it may be time to look at the function and cost of falling in love with people who don't love you back.»
People can sometimes lean on unrequited love as a way of avoiding taking responsibility for themselves and for their own happiness, Muñoz points out.
«We chase the illusion of this elusive idealized other, telling ourselves that if only they loved us, we'd be fulfilled.
This can keep us living in a child mindset where we avoid responsibility by believing we'll be rescued, magic will happen, and we'll feel happy, worthy, or whole with little effort invested on our part.»
All that said, there are certainly healthier ways to experience love that isn't returned. It's possible to love someone and simply not be concerned with whether they love you back.
You can love someone from afar, admiring them, wanting the best for them, and caring for them in the ways you can, without asking anything from them in return.
There's an old quote thought to be by the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe that puts this type of selfless love into perspective: If I love you, what business is it of yours?
The key here, of course, is to make sure that this love doesn't infringe on your well-being—and your ability to form mutual loving connections with others.
How to deal with unrequited love.
While you don't necessarily need to force yourself to stop liking this person as much as you do, it can help a great deal to shift your perspective away from trying to get them to feel the same way about you. Can you love this person without asking anything from them in return—and truly be OK with that?
However, if you're dealing with unrequited love that's painful, detracting from your well-being, or if it involves someone else taking advantage of your feelings, it may be necessary for you to figure out how to get over this person—at least enough so that you're able to feel more emotionally stable and grounded.
To do this, Cullins recommends resetting your boundaries with this person.
«This could look deciding to consider yourself first, only making time for them after they've made time for you, or not giving them their way in hopes that their feelings will eventually match yours.
Doing this will allow you to notice how unequal your feelings and efforts are and may help you walk away from the mismatch for good.»
If you're really struggling to let go, you may need to temporarily take a break from being around this person or at least limit how often you interact with them as much as possible, she adds. «It is difficult to get control of intense feelings for someone if you are interacting with them on a regular basis.»
In the meantime, find positive ways to occupy your time, she suggests. That could mean diving headfirst into a new project, habit, or long-term goal to focus your energy and attention on.
Unrequited love is an intense romantic longing for someone who doesn't feel the same way about you, and it's often more closely related to infatuation than real love.
While it's a common experience that many people may go through at some point in their lives, pay attention to if unrequited love is a frequent pattern for you and why that might be—and if it's negatively affecting your well-being.
If so, ask yourself: Why are you allowing yourself to become so absorbed in another person who isn't returning that interest in you? What habits or beliefs are allowing you to find yourself in this situation time and time again? What do you gain—or get to hide from—by choosing to chase unavailable people?