There are moments when we feel strong romantic feelings toward someone, only to discover that they don’t feel the same way about us. This is known as unrequited love—love that is not rewarded or returned. It is a one-sided feeling that can leave us feeling grief, pain and shame.
You may feel that it would be easy to detect if you’re experiencing unrequited love, but it isn’t always clear and can cause a lot of emotional turmoil and confusion. Learn to look for and how to tackle the situation.
Signs to watch out for
There are signs that can aid in understanding what is going on and if the love you’re feeling for that person is being reciprocated. Persons depict feeling as if they are receiving “mixed signals” from a love interest only to realise that it is actually unrequited love.
Are you the only one making an effort to reach out? Are you the only person trying to communicate with the other person to know how their day is going or find out what important stuff is happening in their life.
When you realise that you’re the only one taking the time to connect and reach out to the other person, inquire about their life or follow up with them about things, it can be a sign that this is a one-sided longing.
In healing dynamics, two spouses who care about each other are motivated to connect with one another and share in a fluid pattern, healthy communication. The exchange of energy between spouses in a healthy relationship feels balanced, not leaving the responsibility of reaching out to connect on one person to bear.
Do you desire to touch your love interest, to hold hands, to hug or kiss? Our yearning for connection consists of physical contact, and when the other is equally attracted, there is a reaching out by both persons to want to connect on a physical level.
If you discover that you’re always the initiator of any physical contact, or that when you want to try to physically connect you are welcomed with resistance or the other person pulling away, it can signal that the love is unrequited.
Myriad times, in situations of unrequited love, one partner has the other on a pedestal. The love interest is viewed as nearly perfect, and any imperfections are easily waded off. There are hardly ever any healthy boundary set in unrequited love.
When individuals develop a healthy romantic connection, they can both see each other’s faults, imperfections, or vulnerabilities. Healthy relationships give room for people to make mistakes and use those opportunities to help create closer connections.
Each partner can hear and see each other and their areas of vulnerability. In an unrequited love situation, only the emotionally invested party is capable of seeing and hearing the other person. There is no mutual, healthy acknowledgement of one another in unrequited love.
It takes time and effort to get to know another person. Over the course of time, shareholders in a healthy relationship experience certain situations together, ask questions and try to understand and get to know one another. In an unrequited love situation, the emotional investment is one-sided.
You might realise that you’re always initiating contact, asking questions, and making efforts to invite the other party into experiences and conversations. Conversely, the other person may know very little or nothing about you at all, doesnt ask you questions or seem to invite you into any experience or conversation about you, like interests, desires, hobbies or goals.
You may yearn for the other person to know you, but the opportunities for sharing with them never seem to be in sight.
How to move forward?
After the heartbreak of unrequited love, there are things we can do to move on successfully. It may seem impossible now, especially as you begin the healing process, but bear in mind that this takes time and healing is very much possible.
Although unrequited love can feel very painful, it can present us an opportunity to grow in unexpected ways. Through such an experience, we can gain a better understanding of our patterns and needs in a relationship, and become a positive and healthy partner in the future.
Allow time to grieve
Unrequited love usually results in deep feelings of rejection and heartbreak. When we are emotionally invested in an individual, and they don’t seem to reciprocate the feelings, we might begin to question our worth and wonder if we would ever feel loved.
It’s important to take time to grieve your loss. You are definitely not alone in your experience, as countless persons have been through situations in which their love for someone else has not been reciprocated.
Confront the thoughts that might crawl in telling you that you’re not enough or that there’s something wrong with you. There is a myriad of reasons why love may not be reciprocated that completely has no relationship with your worth or you being “enough.”
This may be your first encounter with unrequited love, or you may discover that this seems to be a pattern for you. Most of the way we see and experience adult relationships centres on what we learn while growing up, what we noticed, and what we were taught about relationships and love.
Attachment style can affect the way we build and maintain adult romantic relationships. As described by famed psychologist John Bowlby, attachment is a deep and enduring emotional connection that bonds an individual to another. Basically referenced within parent-child settings, more studies show that attachment style plays quite a bit of role in adult romantic relationships too.
Getting to understand your attachment style can enable you to gain insight into your own relationship patterns, your needs and how to build healthier relationships.
Invest in yourself
When you have encountered unrequited love, it is plausible that you have channelled a lot of emotional energy into someone else and this may leave you feeling drained. In order to move forward in a healthy way, it is essential that you reinvest your energy into yourself, your personal goals, your hobbies and interests.
When experiencing unrequited love, our sense of self can become lost as it can often be firmly bonded to our love interest and our continual yearning for them to give back that love to us. Take stock of your interests, things that give you a sense of joy and peace, as well as those that define who you are. Evaluate your values and your goals and become intentional about allowing your behaviour and the decisions you make reflect those part of you.