Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Unrequited love is basically the story of my young adult life (and even in my professional life; with friends, and heartbreakingly, toxic family members as an adult. I don’t share this from a victim mentality whatsoever).
It’s written about in books and poems; there are countless songs about unrequited love, and it has been depicted in television shows and movies for as long as both have been available.
The heat really gets turned up around the holidays with the holiday movies and songs that essentially romanticize this disaster of a situation and then instill HOPE in the viewer that if their value is high enough, the love can be requited.
My main problem with love that is unrequited is how glorified and romanticized it gets. It is depicted more as the “norm” as far as foundational settings go for an epic/fairytale romance than an environment that is highly problematic, unsustainable, not romantic at all, and not your fault.
Instead of being expressed as a situation that should launch you into a hunger for reciprocity and mutuality, it seems that, for the most part, the complete opposite is portrayed.
Unrequited Love Definition. What Is Unrequited Love?
Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines “unrequited” as “not reciprocated or returned in kind.”
When love is not returned, it is one-sided.
Mutual and reciprocal adult relationshipsare not seesaws. They cannot survive on one-sidedness.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I’ve had a one-sided relationship of any kind, it hasn’t been that great! Nor has it been uplifting or enjoyable. It has ultimately been a shameful, draining, embarrassing experience that initiated a brutal and unfair inventory where I picked myself apart on every superficial level. (Then, because I felt so ugly and rejectable, I’d make more terrible relational decisions and become a total clinger).
With all that being said, it’s easy to assume that knowing whether or not love is requited would be totally obvious. This isn’t always the case though. And it has personally caused me a great deal of confusion, humiliation, and self-hate. I will cover both sides.
It’s essential that you know what to look out for.
Straightforward Examples of Unrequited Love
- You’ve fallen in love with someone who is simply unavailable to be in a relationship with you. This could mean that they are already in a relationship, are married, are a coworker (and it would jeopardize your job if you dated them); they’re way too young/too old (according to YOUR value system – there is never any judgment here as long as the law is not broken), etc.
- You’ve developed intense romantic feelings and are convinced that you’re in love with your best friend who you know, does not, or would not feel the same way.
- You want to get back with an ex from your past that has moved on in a way that would make romantically reconnecting impossible.
- You’ve developed intense romantic feelings for a character on a television show, a real-life celebrity, or someone in a position of power who is “unattainable” to you.
- You’ve developed intense romantic feelings for someone who is in a relationship with a friend or family member of yours.
- You’ve fallen in love with someone who you know does not feel the same way.
5 Signs of Unrequited Love When It’s Not So Straightforward
Sometimes, you just don’t know. Or, there isn’t a very blatant and obvious roadblock that solidifies it as unrequited love.
Here are the top five signs to look out for when the situation is not as straightforward as the above bullet points. These signs may seem obvious. But when we are in the thrones of intense romantic feelings, it’s hard to admit/accept these signs that the heart wants to blind us to.
- The person that you desire is more boundaried around you than others.
You’ve gotten to the point where you’ve expressed or even hinted at your feelings for this person. Your energy around them is obviously different than with others (whether you’re nervous, shy, or more direct and intense). And they seem squirmish, uncomfortable, and as a result, become even more boundaried around you.
- They flirt with other people around you or talk about how they are attracted to others around you.
You feel ignored; almost like they want you to see them flirting with others – whether that be in-person or technologically.
- They ask you for dating advice in scenarios that do not include you.
And there’s always an excuse that you have ready to go for the obvious wrongs. You also feel very desperate when around them; like you never have enough time.
- In your eyes, this person can do no wrong.
- You make all of the efforts.
This is frustrating but you keep telling yourself that you just have to work and try harder; that you have to be better.
Bottom line, if someone is into you, they will equally invest.
None of this is meant to vilify the person you desire. It is absolutely wrong if they take advantage of you and exploit your feelings for them for their own personal gain. But many times, these are people who have healthy boundaries and, in some cases, no idea how deeply you truly feel.
I know there are always exceptions to every rule and that holes can be poked in literally everything. But in my opinion, unrequited love has more of an aspect of being in a longing, limerent state than one of true love.
This all became habitual for me. And I wasn’t able to cope with the other person not loving me back until I identified the origin of it all.
The Root Cause
For me, it had so much more to do with my own un dealt-with trauma and feelings of inadequacy than it ever did the person I was hoping to ride off into the sunset with.
I had developed a habit of finding myself in situations of unrequited love because it was safe.
It was much safer for me to give to someone that on some deep down subconscious level, I knew would not and could not be with me. It was also, much easier for me to build up, believe in, cling onto, and pedestal someone else because I didn’t know how to do those things for myself.
Unrequited love was so addicting because it allowed me to experience all of these feelings and give my love away, without any REAL risk or “unknown.”
It was a respite from having to deal with REAL connections, REAL situations, REAL rejection, and REAL relational circumstances.
It was so much safer and easier to love a projection than have to deal with my own dysfunction (and the challenges of a reciprocal relationship with a real, non-fictional person).
The reason why unrequited love is so addicting is because of the level of escapism it provides. Escapism, in my opinion, is the hardest “drug” to get off of. It is the root of addiction, and getting “clean” demands attention to a painful reality that can no longer be ignored.
How to Cope
It was really hard for me to cope when I found myself having to come to terms with the truth of a one-sided situation because the story I had been subscribing to could no longer work. It STILL hurts when I find myself getting back into this very familiar dynamic of clinging onto someone or something (a professional opportunity, wanting family to be who they’re “supposed to be,” etc.) that is unrequited.
Coping with unrequited love requires a tenderness WITH and love and compassion FOR yourself that, if you had an abundance of, there would never be a toleration for one-sidedness of any kind.
For me, the best way to cope was to heal.
And healing started with feeling all of the shameful feelings associated with becoming something that I didn’t want to be (a clinger).
It started with taking a compassionate look at how certain traumas in my childhood primed me to be attracted to hopeless and impossible situations where I would tie my whole worth to someone seeing in me what I could not see in myself.
If you find yourself in situations of unrequited love, please know that there is nothing wrong with you. All you are doing is outsourcing the very love, admiration, attention, and compassion that YOU need to give to yourself.
The more you compassionately redirect and remind yourself of reality, the more self-respect and self-love you will build.
And the less interest you’ll have in one-sidedness.
– Natasha Adamo
Are you done with toxic relationships and ready to attract (and be attracted to) healthy relationships? Do you want to connect with others on a deeper level than the comments below? Click here to become an Emotional Mastery Member and learn more. If you’re looking for more personalized, one-on-one help, you can work directly with Natasha Adamo here.
Natasha, You wrote
“ All you are doing is outsourcing the very love, admiration, attention, and compassion that YOU need to give to yourself.”
Outsourcing love? That unthinkable one! Wow. I can’t disagree with this part.
Yes it pains beyond the hell once realize that one isn’t loved as mentioned in this article. But taking an advantage (especially one you love most) of one add more miserable and pain to deal with. It comes with healing to overcome the hurts hence healing time varies greatly. Some short. Some long.
This is part of finest example that we bypassed friend zone into relationship too immediate because of fairytales. End up exact same said in this article.
Start off with friend zone from the start! Yes one will go thru “one not like me enough or I’m no good or blahs”. After realize there’s no balance and lack etiquette. Also white lies. Then let one go. FYI. It’s much easier to heal than deal with “fakes” or heartbroken one went thru in relationships without bypass friend status. Of course it’s harder especially one one like the most but realize that one not like one as much as one hoped. Disappointments/frustration. Of course. Still easier to deal with than relationship status.
Save yourself trouble. Withdraw once you realize continuing frustrations/hurt of unbalanced outcome from time to time.
Natasha. Thank for few new words. 😇
Wish y’all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 🤗. John.
Natasha. (Second post). I have been thinking about those few words out from your post ALL DAYS/NIGHTS since I read that. Putting puzzles all together. Truth be told. I realize and think I did/done the best I could despite the circumstances of situations. That the good part I realized. I might should stop try too hard myself starting now! Being drained and frustrating over time WITH trying to be positive (apparently) stripped out the energy/spirits/beliefs that destroy oneself in the end. When take a look. It’s ironic how blind we could be over the time, especially, the efforts put on. Yes. Apparently I outsource the love-blahs that I’m suppose to love myself first. That explains why self-hatred was very heavy and intense few years ago. Thanks.
That crosses my thoughts base on my past experience and face the future of unknowns. It’s SUPER HARD to find one who love-blahs AND respect my self love-blahs WITHOUT OUTSOURCE our loves in mistakes. We aren’t “telepathy” reader (nice to have it! Lol) that can detect that this one is using me or all fake or “doubling life”, whatever to save unnecessary troubles ahead. Action/words/balance itself speak loud hence it can be exaggerated or manipulate. Unfortunately.
No pressure. No pushy. No high exceptions. No string attached. No timeline. No traps!, No coercion, No game/drama, No benefit to one-self but both! No blahs might best determine the gauge of self love-blahs of ourselves? (I mean from friend-status to relationship-status.). Just be true to ourselves.
Anyway. Sorry so long. Your post do hit me hardest with few powerful new vocabularies! Hope to see big debates and see our thoughts/experience to this article. Just in the….. Right in time for “Christmas Gift” for some of us. Thanks. 🤗. Merry Christmas.
I agree with you, my friend! And I’m glad that this post has ignited this level of reflection. You are incredible.
I came to the SAME realization. I was being way too hard on myself and needed to accept that I did my best at the time. I really appreciate your thoughts and I know that I speak for everyone when I say that.
Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, my friend! And thank you for your valuable input. You are such a blessing to me and so many in this tribe/community.
I’m glad that you enjoyed reading the post and that it was helpful!
Sending love to you, your Mother, daughters, and extended family this Christmas and always.
I love and appreciate you, my dear friend.
Love your words as always Natasha ♥
Thank you, my dear friend. So glad you enjoyed this post! xo
What a timely post for the season when so many can feel alone and unloved. It is a shame that media of the ages has continued this story line. We all look for validation, often in the wrong places.
As always, you bring us to the core issue of self love and respect and encourage a true look at the causes in one’s past to heal. It is your central theme and right on the mark. As you say, love and believe in yourself and those of value will be drawn to you. Those that aren’t are not the right ones.
Sharing your journey illuminates all of the possibilities that can unfold when one looks inside for the answer. You are a great example!
Thank you for your continuing wisdom.
Your beautiful comment made me tear up. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Everything that you took away from reading this post is exactly what I aimed to give when writing it.
Thank you for being such a light in my life and the lives of so many. Thank you for taking the time to comment and by doing so, helping others feel less alone. It means more to me than I will ever be able to express.
Thank you for YOU.
“The reason why unrequited love is so addicting is because of the level of escapism it provides. Escapism, in my opinion, is the hardest “drug” to get off of.”
Such words of wisdom for one-sided relationships have never been spoken. This sums up a toxic one-sided relationship that took me 3 years to heal from. I’m here with smiles and excited for Christmas in large thanks to *you* Natasha. 💕
What has puzzled me for so long is how this happens to a person (e.g me) that (with much gratitude) grew up in a family that was adoring, loving and extremely thoughtful? There is no childhood trauma that can explain how I got caught up in a toxic, one-sided relationship with an emotionally- unavailable user. I don’t know any other way to love except how my parents loved me: deeply, consistently and unconditionally.
My heart goes out to all who did not have this type of childhood.
Thank you and much love🙏 Merry Christmas and all my best for 2022!
Kudos for you and your journey to being healed. I am sure you gained a lot of wisdom and growth. It comes out of these situations. Toxic relationships are the hardest to heal from, your brain becomes in an addictive state. Healing is not linear and we take the time we need. As Natasha so often points out, real growth can come from these situations and looking within for answers and value.
As for how it could have happened to you, you loved genuinely in the way you know how. Anyone can end up in a toxic relationship. The more caring and giving you are, the more likely. It is not a flaw in your character. It is the flaw in the other person. It doesn’t reflect on you that you stayed in a toxic relationship. If you recognize your value and know you are worthy of a good love it will find you and you it. Don’t settle for anything less.
I love and LIVE to see this level of love and support. <3
I am so happy for and proud of you, sister. Merry Christmas! Glad that the post was helpful <3 Love you.
You bring up a great point that I will try to write more about soon. Many people who find themselves in one-sided relationships (of any kind) with toxic people had what they would describe as very happy, loving, and functional childhoods. Something happened along the way (this could be in school, sports, etc etc) that disempowered and wounded you, or else this dynamic would never be attractive because the prerequisite to entering it is a lack of self-love. Will try to write more about this soon and thank you so much for the recommendation.
Love and appreciate you endlessly. xox
Would love to hear more about this topic!
Will try to write more on it soon 🙂 Thanks Katie! xo
Much love to you Ben and Natasha! Both of you have provided profound insights that I had not considered. ❤️❤️ In a word, you are awesomeness!
Right back at you, Stacy! Happy New Year 🙂
What should i start doing to heal from this problem? How can i learn to love myself and respect myself? Is there any excercise or things i can do for building self love? How to stop thinking about unknown person who i love?
It’s humanely impossible for me to advise here in the comments (thank you so much for your kindness and your understanding ♥️ I wish I had the time and I would need to know more details about your personal situation). I will try my best to write more about the points and questions you bring up. Advising on all of these points requires a coaching session (I am NOT the type that’s, “I’ll only help if paid.” I give away so much for free). My coaching will open back up again in a few weeks. All my love to you xox You are not alone.
Thank you for being you and for being a part of this tribe.
Excellent post. thank you for the wise words. Recently I developed a crush/intense romantic feelings for someone who I discovered has a gf. It sucks because he showers me with compliments, sends me confusing signals, and leads me on. I was hoping to be friend with him but I have decided to cut him off. He constantly lies and manipulates. He says he will text me to hang out as friends but never does. Obviously, he is not interested in any type of friendship with me. Now, that’s not a person I should have a crush on or a friendship with. You can’t help who you are attracted to but your other post on cutting someone off from your life is also immensely helping me in this situation. I have to remind myself. when people show who they are, believe them.