How do you remain friends with someone you love when you know they don’t love you back the same way and you don’t want to lose the companionship in spite of being hurt?
Brutal Honesty Alert
If you think pain and unrequited love is an acceptable dynamic in companionship, you need to stop wondering how you can maintain this relationship and start wondering what the hell is going on with you.
While you could technically remain friends with someone you’re interested in romantically, it will only cause you more heartache.
Therefore, you have two options:
1.) Be glad they’re being honest with you and move on. No romance. No friendship.
2.) Change how you feel about them.
The second option is hard, but not impossible. I’ll show you how below.
This is a universal experience. Your feelings of adoration persist even after you learn a person don’t feel the same way. Do you know why?
Really, think about it for a minute.
Have you come up with the answer? (Hint: it’s not because they are so amazing.)
No, it’s not because you’ll never find anyone who “gets” you the way they do.
My theory (and I say this as someone who’s been right where you are) is that you think so little of yourself that you are subconsciously chasing rejection. You don’t respect yourself enough to like someone who might like you back. You’re actually feeding on emotional neglect, enjoying it.
You might say, “how could I be enjoying this? It hurts!”
But think about it, there’s drama involved. It’s like living in an episode of My So-Called Life. It earns you sympathy from friends. Entire advice columns are being written to you by semi famous sub-lebrity Internet personalities!
Most of all, it’s an elaborate excuse to avoid facing something scary: real companionship.
Admitting You Have a Problem
Now most people hear this and say, “Nu uh! It’s not like that. I really don’t. No, really. I don’t think that’s what I’m doing. See, here’s the part you don’t understand/I didn’t tell you/that makes it different.”
To this I say, of course you aren’t conscious of your emotional blockages. We’re rarely, if ever, aware of the ways in which we are sabotaging ourselves, but it’s human nature to do so. Can you imagine how awful it would feel, always knowing when we’re preventing ourselves from being happy? That’s where your best frenemy, the ego, makes his entrance.
The ego protects us from realizing what we’re doing because we’re very often doing the opposite of what would be best for us. Overeating, smoking, having another drink. We’re even collectively poisoning our planet! Yet somehow we’re not overwhelmed by the sadness of humanity.
So when you say — “Nu uh! That’s not me and here’s why…” — that’s actually your ego freaking out and hoping the truth doesn’t seep through to your conscious mind. Your ego is putting up a giant defense mechanism because it feels threatened. And it should feel threatened! If you got past the wall and acknowledged what you’re actually doing then… that would mean you’d have to… gulp… change!
That having been said, I totally get it. I did the unrequited love thing when I was in high school. Longing, pining, yearning.
"Why doesn’t he notice me? I’m so good to him! Maybe we can be friends …even though it hurts to be friends… It’s okay! He’ll see one day. He’ll love me if I just prove myself/make myself a doormat/be his personal slave/I don’t care what it takes I NEED HIM!"
And why did I need him? Because he was the only one for me? No.
I “needed” him because he didn’t want me. It actually had nothing to do with him. Could anyone have convinced me when I was 16 that I was chasing rejection? It’s doubtful. But as I grew up, I realized the truth.
After I learned the what, I learned why. Then how to let it go.
For me, the journey started when I truly believed that I deserve to be happy. Unfortunately, some people never grow out of this crippling addiction. Some because they’re never aware. Some because they simply cannot face reality. You already have an advantage over those people.
Look at it this way: if you can admit to yourself that you’re choosing this destructive behavior, you’re one step closer to moving past it and growing as a result.
When you address what you’re really doing and why, you’re past the hardest part. Then you can work on letting it go.
Conflict of Beliefs
I don’t like speaking in terms of what “should” be, so I’ll speak from my own point of view. I’ve gone from being Angela Chase, lusting after Jordan Catalono from afar, to having a much lighter and satisfying approach to love and friendship.
If I like a guy, but he doesn’t like me, my fondness for him almost immediately dwindles. Why? He’s not into me! Why would I continue to want someone who doesn’t want me?
Imagine for a second you’re looking to join a new church. (Even if you’re not religious, go with me.) You visit a church that has a nice building, friendly people, and it’s close to your house. This seems like a great church! But during the sermon, the preacher starts condemning something applicable to you. (gay, democrat, female, blonde, whatever it may be.)
You realize, they don’t take too kindly to people like you. Would you still have any desire to go to that church?
Exactly. Your desire would disappear due to a conflict of beliefs. The same applies with romance. There’s a conflict of beliefs when someone doesn’t like me.
My belief: I’m a worthy person deserving of love.
His belief: No, thank you.
Too bad. His stained glass windows were super cute.
A lover who’s really into me is my #1 priority in a relationship.
Sure there are other factors to consider, but if his attraction ain’t there, neither is mine. Homeboy could be a Nobel Prize winning Nordic God, but if he doesn’t like me, then what the hell kind of relationship would I be getting exactly?
Fish. Sea. Plenty. Imma catch one that can’t keep his fins off me. Hmmm, this metaphor might not be the best, but you get it.
Write This Part Down
When you begin the journey of self discovery, here are some super simplified reminders for the road:
1.) Respect yourself enough to be most turned on by someone who respects you.
2.) Like yourself. This way, if they don’t like you, you’ll lose interest. Longing/pining/whining is so 90’s. And not in the cool vintage way.
3.) Instead of focusing on how much you like them or dwelling on if they like you, ask yourself: Do I like them? Why do I like about them?
Is what you like about them related to how they treat you? Or are you just attracted to their great qualities? Hitler was a genius public speaker. Does that make you want to date him?
Cliff’s Notes Version
Understand, they aren’t not doing anything to hurt you. To think so is like running in front of a speeding bus and blaming the driver for not stopping in time. If you don’t think you’re worth anything, you are volunteering to be neglected. When you decide for yourself that you deserve love, you will attract healthier companions in both lovers and friends.
Instead of chasing rejection, you will be the one rejecting anything less than reciprocity.