Stop hanging around and waiting for them to love you. Start loving yourself.
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash
by: E.B. Johnson
Unrequited love is a painful, strange, one-sided affair that can make us feel vulnerable and undermine our happiness in a number of ways. Loving someone that doesn?t love you back is agonizing and it leaves you stuck with torturous emotions that are hard to overcome. Worse than that, it can prevent you from loving yourself, and prevent you from connecting with the true love you?re looking for in this stressful and chaotic life.
Sometimes, Cupid gets involved where he shouldn?t. The trick is learning how to spot the signs and know when things have crossed the line. Unrequited love might seem like an impossible obstacle to overcome, but it can be conquered with a little understanding and acceptance of things as they are. You don?t have to cling to a partner who doesn?t love you back. You can find freedom, and you can do it on your own (and with a little help from your friends).
Love is a hard game to play.
When we think of love, we think about it as this ethereal thing that just to happens to us ? like a lightening strike or a hurricane. We act as though we have no control over our love and we let it come and go (and wreck our lives and our wellbeing) as it pleases. Love is conscious choice we make, not a magical gift that?s bestowed upon us. It takes work to make love blossom, and it always takes effort to keep it around.
Unrequited love occurs when you have strong romantic feelings for someone that does not return those feelings. It?s a one-sided experience that leaves us suffering with pain, grief and shame and it has plagued lovers through the ages. If you?re someone that struggles with toxic ideas of attachment, then you might find yourself paired off with someone who doesn?t love you in the same way that you love them. It?s important to identify this imbalance, however, and address it so that we can build the future and partnerships that suit us.
True love, when we finally recognize it for what it is, is all about choosing to accept and support someone in the life choices they choose to make. There?s no limits to it and no condition. Loving someone can be easy or hard, depending on what we make of it, but it?s a long game that that?s a steady hand and commitment.Good love should never take more work than you can happily give ? and f that?s where you?ve found yourself, it might be a sign you?re dealing with a partner who?s heart isn?t in it like yours.
Concrete signs they don?t really love you.
Sometimes, we are completely blinded by the words someone feeds us or the actions they give us, which can mask their true intentions. When someone doesn?t truly love us, however, there are a number of concrete signs that could signal the end and a bright new beginning.
Someone who is lying about their love for you will still feel emotionally distant (even if they say that they love you?all the time). This is because their words don?t match the emotions they feel inside. They can?t bond or connect; they struggle to let down their walls, and they always fail to dig in for the hard stuff when the going gets tough. Even when a partner tells us that they love us, their actions can often demonstrate a different truth. True love means being there in word and in deed. If your partner doesn?t have the actions to back up their ?I love you,? then their words are empty.
When we?re in love with someone ? truly in love ? we think about them often, and we wonder how they?re doing and we wonder how they?re getting on. This concern for them exists whether they?re in the picture or not, and it doesn?t end just because they make us mad, disappoint us, or otherwise part from us. Someone who is faking their love often struggles to fake this concern, leaving their partners ?out-of-sight-out-of-mind? whenever there?s some physical distance (or it fits their personal desires and purposes).
Demeaning or insulting
When we truly love someone there is no room in our relationship with them for dismissals, demeaning behavior or insults. Because we love them, we show them respect. When that respect is missing, however, communication breaks down and negative behavioral patterns come to take charge. A partner who does not love their other half will fail to show respect when things get tough, resorting instead to mean insults any time a confrontations is engaged.
Failure of trust
Loving someone means, inherently, that we can trust the other person. When someone loves us, they understand that they hold a piece of our wellbeing and happiness in their hands. They take this responsibility seriously, and will go out of their way to make sure their partner knows that they are safe and secure. Failing to trust your partner, or feeling as though they are untrustworthy, can be a sign of insecurity. But it can also be a sign that you?re tangled up with someone who doesn?t have your best interests at heart.
Social isolation is a major warning sign in any toxic relationship, but it can also be a sign that you?re dealing with someone who would rather control you than love you for who you are. This type of behavior can start small, but it can increase to become an all-encompassing obsession that leaves you completely bereft of support when things get tough with your partner. It?s also an abusive type of behavior and a signal that your partner has more on their mind than building a mutually happy future.
Support is one of the most important facets of any relationship, and it?s also one of the biggest indicators that someone loves you truly and for who you are. When someone cares for us they want us to be happy, and that means supporting us as we go after the careers, and pastimes and dreams that bring joy and fulfillment to our lives. If your partner always fails to support you, or if they belittle or discount your dreams, they don?t really love you. And, chances are, they never will.
Why they fail to tell us the truth.
There are a number of reasons that someone might fail to tell us the truth about their love for us, and there are a number of reasons that someone might ?lead us on?. While these reasons can range from innocent ones to malicious ones, it is our responsibility to suss out when our partners aren?t being forthcoming with us or sharing the truth.
Sometimes, the path ahead just isn?t clear?no matter how much we might wish it to be. For this reason, many people linger on in relationships that they aren?t sure about, or even the ones that they are. There is a fear attached with uncertainty, and this can drive us to stay where we are comfortable ? even when that?s with a partner who doesn?t quite fit. Rather than seeking to hurt someone consciously, it?s a freezing in the face of uncertain change and all the discomfort that entails.
Too much people pleasing
Though we often think of people-pleasing as a femme trait, it?s very much engrained in all of us and can manifest in any partnership. As humans, we have an innate desire to be liked, and we have an innate desire to be social and remain connected to the ?group?. These needs can drive us to stay with partners we don?t love, in a too-nice syndrome that causes you to become paralyzed and unhappy with where you?re at and who you are.
Need for attention
The fact of the matter is that ? when it comes to relationships ? some are just in it for the attention and / or affection it provides them. When you have an extreme need for attention, relationships can provide that and satiate that need?for a short time. The problem, however, is that a need for attention is not an appropriate reason to engage and play with another person?s emotions. Something which requires some brutal honesty with self our our parters up front.
When it comes to leading someone on, or making someone believe you lovee them when you don?t ? there are some people who live in a state of delusion, completely oblivious to what they?re doing. They don?t realize they?re leading their other half on, or live in a detached world where they are unable (or unwilling) to accept such a concept. To them, it might be about autopilot. Or, it might just be about staying where they?re comfortable, and failing to analyze any further beneath the surface.
Abuse and poor mental health
Abusive partners are not partners who love themselves, and they are not partners who are capable of truly loving others. When someone is abusive, or if they suffer from addressed or unaddressed mental health conditions, it might lead to fracturing and conflict which cannot be overcome or worked through. An abusive partner is one who is focused only on their needs and, likewise, someone who is struggling with serious mental health issues is someone who might be too preoccupied to truly connect with someone.
Whether we like to admit it or not, some people are just bad people. They know they?re bad, they know they?re hurting people ? and they just don?t care. They might have trauma in their past, or they might not. Whatever the case, they make the conscious decision to lead their partners on and care only about their own gratification in relation to their needs and the emotions they choose to express. Bad people hurt people, and that includes allowing them to believe they are loved and supported?when, in fact, they are not.
Why we accept their lies.
Love unreturned stems from a lot of places, including our past experiences and childhood traumas ? but it (almost) always stems from a warped sense of self and low self-esteem. Chances are, if you?re looking for love in people that don?t love you back, you?re self-sabotaging for one of the following reasons.
Chained to the past
A fear of the past is one of the biggest reasons we drink down the affection lies a partner offers us. This feara often reflects the negative impact of sexual or emotional abuse. When we are beat down or violated by people that we trust ? the people we believe we love ? it skews our definition of love. Broken definition to hand, we start chasing after love in all the wrong places; repeating the pattern of heartbreak and longing that becomes familiar to us.
One of the most common causes of unrequited love is an insistence on seeing things as you wish they were, rather than seeing them for how they actually are. We continue to chase the wrong people because that seems less painful to us than accepting the truth ? they are not in love with us. Facing reality is tough and it can undermine our sense of personal omnipotence. The world isn?t a fair place, however, and things don?t always have a happy ending.
Fear of true intimacy
Sometimes, placing all of our affection-eggs in one basket is a way to prevent ourselves from getting too close to someone who might hurt us. A fear of intimacy is one of the number one reasons we give our love to people who don?t love us back, as we know there will forever be a safe distance between them and our most vulnerable parts. Remaining fixated on someone that doesn?t love us allows us to enjoy all the intensity of love while still keeping ourselves protected.
A love for drama
Some people can become addicted to dramatic relationships for the attention and thrill they provide. This, however, is an extremely toxic way to approach connection and one of the quickest ways to alienate not only potential partners, but friends and loved ones as well.
How to let go of someone that doesn?t love you.
Coming to the realization that you?re in a relationship with someone who doesn?t love you is hard, but it?s also a beautiful and powerful thing too. Having this knowledge empowers you to make radical changes in your life for you and you alone, allowing you to fall in love with who you are?and the future you want for yourself.
(Author?s note: It?s important to remember that these techniques may not be applicable to all situations. If you or someone you love are dealing with an abusive relationship ? professional or experienced assistance might otherwise be needed to extract yourself from the relationship.)
1. Figure out where you?re at
The first step in any journey is figuring out where you?re going. Before you can address your issues with your partner (and decide how you want to address your relationship with them) you have to figure you where you?re at in the moment, and where you want to go. This takes digging deep, and it takes making some brutally honest comparisons between what?re we?re living now, and what we want our futures to be.
Create some temporary space to clear your head, and spend some timee alone with just a journal and your thoughts. Make a few lists, the first of which should address how you?re feeling right now in the moment and why. Next, describe your ideal relationship, and what you want your relationship to look like 10, 15, 20 years from now. Those lists in hand, make a third list; and this time, record exactly what your relationship is like now and how it makes you feel.
Stop kidding yourself about the quality of the relationship you?re in, and start embracing what you really want and what you really need. If you need someone who is physically and emotionally there for your more consistently than your partner is now, embrace that and start accepting that need for what it is. There is no right or wrong when it comes creating our ideal relationships (short of setting out to intentional hurt others). Be honest with yourself and get real and why you?re unhappy in your relationship so you can start to plan a way forward.
2. Open up a dialogue
Before you make any moves, it?s important to communicate (with respect) where you?re at with your partner and what you?re thinking?even if they aren?t capable of doing the same. Opening up a dialogue is key in both enhancing our relationships, and shifting them into different stages. When a partner doesn?t love us the way we need them to, we have to let them know and we have to do so clearly and effectively.
If it?s safe to do so (and if it?s worth your time) ? open up a dialogue with your partner and let them know where you?re at. Share with them how their behavior makes you feel, and give them space to reply with their own explanations or reasonings. Even though they aren?t justified in dismissing you, or belittling you, or leading you on, they still have a right to know what your issues with them are.
Avoiding accusatory language (?you do this..? or ?you do that??) and instead focus on how you feel and the type of needs you have. Rather than holding them accountable for hurting your feelings ? detach ? and tell them instead that they, at this point and time, don?t have the type of emotional support that you need for yourself. Make it about you and leave them out of it entirely. Think of it like a job interview, and don?t shy away from the harder details if they?re weighing heavily on your heart.
3. Create space
Space is one of the most valuable tools we can utilize when it comes to managing our relationships, and it?s one of the most powerful tools we have when it comes to figuring out who we are and what we want. Once you?ve had the hard talk with your partner, it?s important to ease into a new sense of space that allows you to better connect with yourself; without jumping all in before you?ve got your bearings.
Create space and enough distance to comfortably explore (further) who you are and what you want. This space might look like claiming your own room in the house, or it might look like booking that big solo vacation on your own. However you do it, do it slowly, and reclaim your sense of independence by slowly reclaiming your own space.
As you become more comfortable in this sense of distance, increase it, and venture further and further out on your own. Use this time to meet new people, explore new passions, or discover new things about yourself you didn?t know existed. Don?t allow your partner to take part in this space, but leave plenty of room for friends, family and new members of your support network that you?ll meet along the way. There?s no need for one big dramatic blow up. Ease into your new-found idea of independence and find your feet before making any major changes.
4. Trust in the energy of the process
When major change comes into our lives, there is often a certain energy to it that can guide us when we know how to tap into it. Too often, we get swept up by our own personal judgement and insecurities, and forget to listen to our ?gut?. By allowing ourselves to be lead naturally by what feels both right and good, we can discover the future we?re looking for ? free of the people who don?t really love us.
Lean into the energy of the process and trust it to lead you where you need to go. Take care of yourself and start identifying your needs (and fulfilling them). Spend some time engaging in some self-care, and cultivate a new image of self through following your heart and your passions.
Trust in the energy of the process. Trust that you?re capable enough to identify what it is you need in this life to feel happy and fulfilled. Trust that you know yourself well-enough to claim what is rightfully yours. Too often, we let the ideas or dismissals of other people stop us from doing is what is right. Get out of your head and start following your heart a little more. Some transformative things can happen when we get out of our own way.
5. Severe ties (when the time is right)
Once you know what you need, and once you know ? in no uncertain terms ? that you?re dealing with someone who doesn?t love you, you have to severe ties. This severing of ties can look different (depending on the circumstances) but it?s a necessary clearing of space that allows you to make room for the people that will love you in the way you need. Whether you cut them out completely, or you shift them to a different place in your life: in order to be truly free and happy, you have to let them go.
When the time is right, cut ties with your partner and let them know that it?s time to seek different shores. Communicate clearly how you?re feeling, and let them know what needs you have that have moved you to that decision. Remember, accusatory language isn?t helpful here. Keep it to the facts, and only say the things that need to be said?even if you?re dealing with someone who lowers themselves to insults or belittlement.
If you?re someone who?s dealing with an especially abusive or toxic partner, make sure you complete this step in a manner that?s safe for you, and with the help and advisement of professionals or experienced social workers. It?s can also be important here to rely on the support of family or friends, and it might be crucial that you include them in this step. However you decide to proceed, remember that you safety is key.
6. Nurture your soul
In the wake of a devastating breakup, or even in the wake of a mutual separation ? it?s important to nurture your soul and consciously reconnect with the things that can bring you joy. Not only does this work as a distraction, it works to help you find your way forward in way that is both healthy and revealing. When you nurture your soul, you allow yourself to be happy again. But you also learn how to reconnect with you and fall in love with who you are.
Nurse your wounds and let yourself to lean into the experiences and support networks that help you rediscover your sense of authentic happiness. Allow yourself to let go of the ties that bind, and form new ones that lead you forward onto a brighter tomorrow. Don?t seek revenge. Don?t follow your anger. Follow your joy instead and let it lead you into new love.
Nurture your soul in the wake of the separation, and know that you did the right thing for both your happiness and your humanity. To remain attached (and defeated) by someone who doesn?t love us or want the best for us is self-defeating and self-destructive. Accept and know that it?s okay to be happy, and it?s okay to be happy entirely for yourself and by yourself. No one can make us happy from the outside. That?s an inside job that can be accomplished by us alone.
Putting it all together?
Finding ourselves in relationships with partners who don?t love us back is a hard battle to fight. Whether they?re just confused or they?re maliciously stringing us along, it makes little difference to our feelings and the pain we feel when we?re dealing with someone who demeans, belittles us or otherwise denies us the love we need in a romantic partnership. If you?re dealing with someone who doesn?t love you, steel yourself and find your way to a future that?s yours and yours alone. There is someone who is out there who will love you, but you have to create space for them to open the door.
Take some time to figure out how you?re feeling and use this to engage the process and the journey that comes next. Embrace your relationship for what it really is, and accept the reality of what you really need from a partnership. When you?re ready, open up a dialogue with your partner and let them know how you?re feeling. Avoid accusatory language, but remain open and honest. Slowly, create space between yourself and your partner, and follow the energy of the process. Trust yourself to make the right decisions for you, and reconnect and re-engage with the people and pastimes that bring you joy. Not every person is meant for us, but there is someone out there for each of us (if we want them). Find the right person for you by letting go of your attachment to a person who doesn?t love you back. Severe the ties and nurture your soul before it?s too late to turn back.