It’s hard but it happens and it hurts really badly. You shared a wonderful friendship. Somewhere along the way, friendship turned into love. For a little while, it was even more wonderful than your platonic relationship. Then the hammer dropped at the height of your mutual love and now your best friend and love wants out. You go over your exchanges over and over in your mind. Where did it go wrong? What should you have done that you didn’t? What did you do that you shouldn’t have? You feel rejected. At this point, what you should be thinking about is how to deal with this situation so that you can move on with your life. Here are a few suggestions below:
1. Accept that romantic love isn’t usually a conscious decision. So, if a person knows that you love him/her, but doesn’t feel the same way about you, don’t view it as some kind of betrayal or deliberate withholding. Sometimes the feeling just isn’t there. Try not to take it personally. The fact is you can’t force someone to reciprocate your love.
2. Eradicate any sense of neediness. If you’re feeling upset, depressed, or bitter, it’s probably because you feel you need that person’s love in order to be happy. But all you need to be really happy is a healthy dose of optimism and self-esteem. You may also find that it is neediness (which you may be conveying without even realizing it) that’s turning off the person you love.
3. Distance yourself. You won’t want to, but staying close to someone you want but can’t have just isn’t healthy. Don’t tell the person or anyone close to them what you are doing, as they might try to convince you otherwise. Just try to get away for a while. Don’t call them, don’t go places where you know they frequently visit; just make yourself scarce. If you must have some contact (such as work), respond to messages slowly after a few days. Only call back when you have a good excuse. Get off the phone after a few minutes. Take the time to reflect on your situation and learn more about yourself.
4. Enjoy being single. Dealing with unrequited love is a lot like getting over a break up, except you feel a sense of loss over something you never had. Still, you have to learn how to enjoy life without someone, which can be hard in our couple-centred society, but it’s do-able.
5. Practice unconditional love. If you feel that you really, truly love this person, then perhaps you can love him/her unconditionally. You’ll know you’ve reached that point when you can genuinely feel happy for that person, even if that happiness does not include you. With unconditional love, there’s no sense of loss, because it’s about deriving all your happiness from the act of giving – not from receiving.
6. Keep all recriminations and pleading to yourself. Let’s face it: done is done. Take the news as gracefully as you possibly can. Cry over it if you need to. Just don’t call names, express bitter regrets, or plead and beg for another chance. While name-calling is uncivilised, pleading and begging is very humiliating; you need your sense of pride and self-worth intact.
7. Understand that making this transition will not be easy. You need some space for a little while. Cut contact with that person for now. View this as something that must simply be endured, like a broken arm. Time away from him/her will help you draw a line between your hope for what could have been, and the reality that now must be.
8. Do things that engage your logical, planning, strategic brain. When people are depressed, they have less activity in the prefrontal lobes of the left side of their brain; so purposefully doing logical activities can help stabilize mood and help you feel much more detached and objective about stuff that was bothering you. You need a clear perspective to deal with unrequited love.
Real love should make you happy and contented, not miserable and anxious. Unrequited love can never be anything but painful. For harmony in a relationship, the force of attraction needs to be balanced. Just imagine how good it’s going to be when you find someone who knows how to love you as you love him/her.