by Danielle Wright
I think many of us have been here—either loving someone who does not love us back or having a friend in our life, who confessed their undying love and we didn’t reciprocate the feeling.
An unrequired love is essentially a one-sided love. It’s when you love or have loved someone, but they never loved you in the way that you do. This can be painful and sometimes difficult to recognize. I spend a lot of time on TikTok these days scrolling through the self-proclaimed relationship and trauma coaches. They are teaching men and women how to ‘make him want you’ or ‘how to deal with a heartbreak’. The easiest reality is that maybe the love you felt for this person was never there to begin with, or that person’s feelings may have changed.
Honestly, it’s not going to be easy, but you will eventually get to a point where you can be friends without having romantic feelings. I see this happen a lot with same-sex relationships—I am speaking from experience. One of my dearest friends fell in love with me, but I did not return that feeling. Ultimately, it comes down to respect.
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According to Certified Love Coach and Relationship Expert, Jacqui Rubinoff, “Respect is honoring one another’s feelings, boundaries, space, and words. If you don’t have respect in a relationship, you don’t have anything. Respect is the foundation of every relationship and from there you can build a strong friendship, love and partnership.” My friend had to respect my decision and my sexual preference (one’s preference for a particular type of sexual partner).
Today, she and I are still very close and I wouldn’t trade her for the world!
If you haven’t or have discussed this with your friend or the person who you love, here are some signs that the feelings are not reciprocated:
- If you’re texting and they seem to take longer to respond to you – effort goes both ways and if you’re interested in them romantically and they [are] aware of this but seem to be keeping you waiting much of the time, take this as a sign that they are not on the same page romantically.
- Flirting with other people – granted, they could just be a flirt. But then again, they could also be exploring other options. If this is the case, have respect for yourself and remove yourself from that situation.
- Imbalance in the relationship – if you’re quick to offer help, assistance, your time, your ear and this person just doesn’t seem to prioritize you the same way, this can be an imbalance in the relationship.
If you’re experiencing any of this and you’ve spoken to your love interest about it and he/she doesn’t seem to want to make any changes to improve the nature of your relationship, then maybe staying friends with them isn’t a good idea. “There is nothing more damaging to our self-esteem than being with someone who does not respect us. It can make us doubt ourselves, affect our health and well-being and influence our ability to function well in other areas of our lives.” Conscious Relationship Coach, Donna Grace Macleod says.
When my friend told me she was in love with me, I had to respect her feelings. I was careful with my words and let her know that despite not loving her romantically, I loved her so much as a friend. I complimented her personality and the value she brought to my life and vice versa. Thus, we were able to remain in others’ lives.
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Presenting your feelings doesn’t make you weak and you should not be subjected to hurt and pain from someone just because their interest is not the same. So be on the lookout for that. How did this person react? Did they become distant afterward? Did they make you feel less than or judged you for your feelings? If any of the answers is a [yes] they ask yourself, why do you want to remain friends with someone like that anyway?
On the contrary, if your situation is anything like mine, first and foremost, acceptance is key. A surefire way to lose a friend—especially in situations like this—is to continue to be persistent despite being told [no]. Understand a few key things: this isn’t the end of the world, your romantic relationship is over or nonexistent, and sometimes things just don’t work out.
Next, give yourself time to feel your emotions. I can’t stress this enough. Healing has become so demonized in today’s culture that people will happily monkey branch from one relationship to the next. If you’ve spent a significant amount of time with this person, building a friendship and eventually falling in love then you’re vulnerable right now. Do not go out and begin dating right away to band-aid the wound—rejection. Analyze and dig deep into your emotions and work through them. Maybe even take some space.
Rachel Sommer, Ph.D., Clinical Sexologist and Co-Founder of My Sex Toy Guide says, “You can’t do much to change a person’s behavior, let alone their feelings towards you. Love entails accepting each other for who they are in a relationship. Most importantly, it involves understanding and appreciating that you’re different from each other.”
There is no foolproof way that will tell you how to deal with or cope with unrequited love. But as someone who is friends with a person who once professed her undying love for me, I can say it gets easier. I think because we’ve both made the conscious decision to remain an integral part of each other’s lives. Therefore, we did not have to deal with any form of abandonment. If you can find it within yourself to let your respect for this individual override your passion, you will see that you can both be happy and have a healthy and loving platonic relationship.
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