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The Pain of Loving Someone Who Doesn’t Love You Back

There’s a certain type of pain reserved for loving someone who doesn’t love you back. With unreciprocated love, you can’t control how they feel for you.

loving someone who doesn't love you back

When you’re loving someone who doesn’t love you back, it leads to two things: pain and more pain. But every love is a lesson to learn. With this form of unrequited love comes the lessons of loving, letting go, and moving on. It might hurt now, but you know what they say – it’s much better to love and lost than never to have loved at all.

When you love someone who doesn’t feel the same way, there’s no changing the facts. They don’t love you, and that’s that. But that doesn’t mean you should dwell on this pain. Just because they failed to reciprocate your feelings, it doesn’t mean you should give up on love entirely.

[Read: Loving someone you can’t have: 15 ways to accept unreciprocated love]

How do unreciprocated emotions feel?

When someone doesn’t reciprocate your emotions, it can feel like the worst thing in the world. It feels like your heart has been stabbed repeatedly with a shard of glass. Okay, maybe we’re exaggerating a bit, but loving someone who doesn’t love you back can hurt that much.

You imagined a potential with someone, you put your heart on your sleeve, only for them to break it in pieces. Don’t worry, you’re not alone in feeling this pain. Most often than not, everyone who has ever had a crush has felt this kind of heartbreak.

Is it easy? Absolutely not. But you do get better at handling unreciprocated love. Just think of it this way – you’re one heartbreak closer to the person who’ll reciprocate your feelings for them.

[Read: Unreciprocated love: 22 ways to move on when love isn’t returned]

Loving someone who doesn’t love you back

So what happens when you give into the feeling and fall for someone who can’t reciprocate your feelings?

1. Oh no, it’s not happening

t first, there’s the denial. Of course, you believe the love you feel will be returned. You refuse to face the fact that they don’t feel the same way when you were so sure they did. Even as you tried everything in your power for them to return your feelings, your expectations weren’t quite the reality.

So you convince others—and yourself—that the apple of your eye will eventually notice you. Then they’ll fall for you, ride into the sunset, and live happily ever after. Despite all the pep talks, deep in your core you know it will never be. You ask them to hang out, and they say they have other plans.

It’s pretty obvious in their actions and body language that they don’t feel the same way, yet you continue to deny it. Don’t worry, it happens to everyone.

Loving someone who doesn’t love you back isn’t easy after all, and denial is just one of our possible defense mechanisms before facing the harsh reality of unreciprocated love. [Read: How to stop loving someone else… and love yourself more]

2. Just friends

There’s nothing as heartbreaking as being close to someone, but you only go so far. No matter how nice they are to you and appreciate all you do in their eyes *and in the way they fidget in front of your favors* you will always and forever be nothing more than “just friends.”

In other words, you’re stuck in the friend zone and you can’t seem to get out. You can’t change their mind, no matter how many gestures and attempts you try to do so.

Every attempt is just seen as a token of your friendship. You wear your heart on your sleeve, yet they might be totally oblivious as they have their own eyes set on someone else. [Read: Dammit, why doesn’t he like me back? All the reasons why]

3. Floor, meet your heart

Yes. When you love someone who doesn’t—and couldn’t—love you back, it feels like you’ve just given your heart to someone and seen them trample it. It’s painful, alright. It feels as though your world is falling apart, and every fiber of your being torn to shreds along with it.

Pain, despair, and loneliness overcome you. It might sound a tad dramatic to anyone and everyone who hasn’t felt this way, but it’s an accurate representation of this feeling. It can feel absolutely soul-crushing when loving someone who doesn’t love you back. And yes, you cry (a lot!) because you have loved like you have never loved anyone.

The worst part is you can’t do anything to change their mind because that’s not how love works. They either love you, or they don’t. In this case, it’s the latter. [Read: The pity playlist: 10 songs to help heal your broken heart]

4. Face the music

After the tears fall and the gloom lifts, you have to face the truth—you two are just not meant to be. One day you’ll meet the person they love, the person you’d have given anything to be. But you can’t get in between them because love, real love, means letting them be happy even if it doesn’t involve you.

You may even try to pry them apart, but your efforts prove futile. The best thing you can do at this point is to let them go and freely love the person that isn’t you. [Read: Letting go of someone you love – Minus the bitterness]

5. Someday, someone

The wounds cut deep, but in time you’ll eventually heal. Though looking back wistfully to how you were and remembering that person brings an all-too-familiar tug at your heart strings. But with time, the pain finally disappears. When that time comes, you’ll be open to meet someone else—and you’ll fall again.

We often think we’ll never let ourselves love again when we get hurt because it hurt too much. In reality, you’ll fall again and again, and it’ll hurt just as much as the last time – maybe even more. With love also comes the possibility of pain.

You can’t have one without the other. This time, though, things will be different. You will love someone and, at last, that someone loves you back. You’ll finally receive the love you’ve always wanted to have. [Read: Getting over rejection: how to bounce back in no time]

How to deal: Moving on from unrequited love

Come on. It’s not rocket science. Sometimes, no matter how badly we want it and think we deserve it, some things just don’t add up. Things don’t happen the way we want or hope they would. The person we love so much just doesn’t love us back. Tough luck, but that’s life—and love.

And love can suck big time.

Now that you have a reality check on what will happen when you fall for someone who doesn’t love you back, how do you move on? While the things above remain easier said than done, the real work comes in knowing when to give up and start to move on. [Read: The almost relationship: it’s almost always never worth it]

Here are some tips to help you get started, to overcome the pain of loving someone who doesn’t love you back.

1. Acceptance

You just have to accept that things will never happen the way you want them to, and that’s okay. Just because you love them, it doesn’t mean they’ll also feel the same way. While your mind and heart remain at odds with each other, give yourself time to accept the way things are.

Reality is a hard pill to swallow, but that’s the only way if you want to heal and move on with your life. You need to accept the reality of the situation if you’re going to move on. Acceptance is an integral part of loving someone who doesn’t love you back, so you can’t skip this step.

2. Be kind to yourself

Don’t give yourself hell for not being loved. Don’t blame yourself or your shortcomings—everyone has them. It’s not a matter of you not being enough for that person. There’s often no singular reason why people fail to love us back. Love isn’t based on logic but on emotion alone.

It’s why when we fall for someone, there’s no logical explanation as to why we feel the way we do. We don’t control who we fall in love with; we just do. So blaming yourself is pointless when loving someone who doesn’t love you back. [Read: How to be kind to yourself & others & love life instead of hating it]

3. Grieve if you must

It’s hard to move on without shedding tears, even figuratively speaking. Realizing the one you love doesn’t share the same feelings is like losing someone in a relationship. Just because what you’re experiencing doesn’t involve the death of a loved one, it doesn’t mean you can’t grieve.

Loss is loss, no matter what. So in moving on from the person that doesn’t love you back, you have to let yourself grieve that what you imagined isn’t the reality of the situation. Even if you feel silly at times for grieving because things were one-sided, your loss is still valid. [Read: The different kinds of regret and ways to deal with it]

4. You deserve better

Even if you think this person is the only one you could ever love. And you believe with all your heart you won’t find anyone nearly as great as them, you’re wrong. Every person who’s ever said this turned out to be wrong when they fell in love repeatedly after that unreciprocated love.

Even if it hurts a lot not to be loved back, it’s not the end of an era. If anything, it’s just the beginning of limitless possibilities in your dating life. The fact that they didn’t feel the same way means that they’re the wrong person for you.

They feel to say your remarkable and admirable traits, and that’s on them – not you. But someday, you’ll receive the love you’ve always deserved, and that’ll be everything. [Read: We accept the love we deserve – Why aren’t you worthy?]

5. Get out there

Failing in love one time shouldn’t be reason to shut yourself out from the world, or from the possibility of being loved by someone else. And even if you’re not looking for someone to fill the void of that lost love, going out and socializing helps heal.

You’ll never move on from loving someone who doesn’t love you back if you don’t get yourself out there first. It doesn’t matter if you’re not yet ready to move on; getting yourself out there will make you feel so much better.

Meeting new people might feel uncomfortable at first, but it’ll make you feel better about loving someone who doesn’t love you back. [Read: How to start dating again: 9 steps to get back in the game]

6. Focus on YOU

Create goals and focus all your energy on accomplishing them. Whether it’s about giving yourself a health and fitness makeover, traveling to different places, or moving up the career ladder, setting personal goals helps take your mind off negativity and gear you up for a more positive and productive life.

What matters in moving on is keeping busy and focusing on yourself during your time of heartbreak. It might not seem much, but it’s a better alternative than dwelling on your emotions. You know what they say, self-improvement is the best revenge when your heart is broken. [Read: 15 very effective rules to forget someone you once cared for]

7. Open yourself up

Just because you’ve been burned once, your love life isn’t doomed. Don’t put pressure on yourself to find a replacement, but keep yourself open to dating opportunities. You can even prefer to be single, but when someone comes knocking, by all means, let them in.

Life will surprise you most times, and you won’t get anywhere by closing yourself off. Even if opening up is the last thing you want to do, do it anyway. Loving someone who doesn’t love you back is brutal, and falling for someone who doesn’t share the same feelings as you can be devastating.

Instead of fixating on the so-called “love of your life” and chasing after someone who may be in love with someone else, pour all your energy into more worthwhile things. [Read: What does it mean to be vulnerable? 15 ways you can open up more]

So, how do you move on from unreciprocated love?

It’s better to let go of something not really yours in the first place than to watch the world pass you by, dwelling on a love that could never be. Once you take the time to heal, you find out life is still beautiful. And it has someone in store for you when you open yourself up to loving again. [Read: Fool-proof ways to get over the one… the one you never had]

It’s not a ride in a bike to move on from someone who doesn’t feel the same way, but it’s not impossible. The best way to survive this heartbreak is to distract yourself just enough until you stop dwelling on the fact they don’t feel the same way.

Loving someone who doesn’t love you back sucks, but that doesn’t mean you won’t survive it. With these seven tips above, you’re one heartbreak closer to finding the love you’ve always deserved.

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tiffany
Tiffany Grace Reyes
Tiffany is a wordsmith who has played with words ever since her letter-to-the-editor was published nationally at the age of 9. Since then her writing has gone f...
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