Have you ever loved someone or really, really liked someone but it was not reciprocated? I have and it was dreadfully painful. Unrequited love is a heart-breaking combo of not being with the person you desire and enduring the feeling of not being desired back. Thoughts like “what’s wrong with me?” emerge and we start buying into misunderstanding about our lovability. When we feel unwanted, we experience temporary amnesia forgetting the love that we are. We place all our worthiness in the hands of another, hoping that someday, somehow the other person will finally see us and choose us.
I have a very tender place in my heart for anyone who is facing unrequited love because it has been a big lesson in my own life. That’s why I was particularly moved when my friend Samara O’Shea shared her new book Loves Me…Not with me. As I was feeling into the yearning to write about this topic (especially after Valentines Day), I was called to reach out to Samara and ask her some questions about unrequited love:
CH: What is unrequited love?
SO: I define unrequited love as an unreciprocated longing for love that reveals itself in many ways. For example, you can admire (even obsess about) a person from a distance and never tell him or her that you have romantic feelings. You can pursue a man or woman tirelessly and refuse to take no for an answer. You can stop hearing from a love interest after several dates but still be anticipating or desiring a call. You can be in a one-sided relationship, meaning you both say you’re committed but all of the compromises are made by you and few by your partner. You can be in long-term partnership with reciprocal love, when (in one of life’s more unfair circumstances) your beloved leaves unexpectedly one day and you’re left to recover.
CH: How can someone recognize unrequited love?
SO: The surest sign—with rare exception—is inconsistency in communication. If a person leaves you with no response to a text, e-mail or phone call for days on end, then you are not a priority in his or her life. Other signs are…
- S/he’s in a relationship (it doesn’t matter if s/he’s unhappy in it).
- Your love interest has no respect for your time and either cancels plans or tries to make plans at the last minute—only when it’s convenient for him or her.
- The object of affection criticizes you often and with the intent of being mean—as opposed to occasional, constructive criticism
Unrequited love is, of course, hard to recognize and harder to accept. Often times when we’re excited about a certain someone it’s very difficult to see clearly. We can be a bit delusional and end up interpreting every move a person makes to mean he or she is really into you.
CH: What is there to do when you feel for someone who doesn’t feel the same?
SO: The first step of surviving this situation is to admit to yourself that someone isn’t treating you well or just isn’t interested. Even though you think s/he is great in so many other ways, if s/he isn’t treating you well or paying any attention to you then you don’t have the makings of a solid union. The second step is to muster up the courage to walk away or—if you’re not actually in a relationship—to give up. I know “giving up” is not advice we’re used to hearing. Let me be clear that you’re not giving up on love itself, but rather on love with this person.
While it seems counterintuitive, giving up on someone who isn’t genuinely interested in you is preserving love—self-love. To love yourself is to surround yourself with people who support and respect you and to confidently walk away from anyone who doesn’t—knowing you don’t need them. Self-love is the cornerstone of every other type of love. (Tweet-worthy!)
CH: Amen! I really hear you saying what we are giving up is outsourcing our love to that other person and bringing the love back to ourselves.
SO: Exactly. And in a healthy love relationship there is balance. You care equally for your well-being and for your partner’s well-being.
CH: I think it is so important for people who have been in the experience of unrequited love to remember that being single is not a punishment! It can be a wonderful time of returning to your own love – and having a lot of fun! What do you think are the positives to being single?
SO: Many people stay in relationships because they are afraid to be alone. They will choose an unhealthy romance over being single any day. In Loves Me…Not I quote frequently from a psychoanalyst named Erich Fromm. In his bestselling book The Art of Loving, he says “If I am attached to another person because I cannot stand on my own two feet, he or she may be a lifesaver, but the relationship is not one of love. Paradoxically, the ability to be alone is the condition for the ability to love.”
One of the biggest positives to being single is facing the fear of being alone. Once this fear is quashed, you are free to choose to be in a relationship because you want to be and not because you’re afraid not to be. So strangely—and paradoxically as Fromm says—being single for a significant period of time can improve your future relationships. You can then choose a partner out of an abundance of love rather than deficiency of it.
In addition to that, being single lends itself to coming and going as you please, focusing exclusively on family and friends for a while, and discovering things that you enjoy doing on your own. It is an exciting time in anyone’s life.
CH: Yes, wherever we are can be an exciting time – it just depends on the lens we look through.
To any of you who are dealing with heartache, I am sending you blessings of healings and remembrance: that in which you are seeking is inside of you!! No one else is the source of your love. If someone did not choose you, that means nothing about your worth and lovability.
There is nothing wrong with you and you didn’t do anything wrong.
Unhook your heart from a person who is not your source of love and open yourself to the infinite supply of love from the Uni-verse!
My thanks to Samara for contributing to this blog and sharing her insight. You can get to know her and check out her book here.
Christine Hassler is an author, speaker, life coach and spiritual counselor dedicated to helping people answer the questions who am I, what do I want and how do I get it? You can check out her website here.
p.s. I have ONE spot left for my Spiritual Adventure retreat in Costa Rica – is it yours? Details and new video invite from me here.