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Loving Someone You Can’t Have: 15 Ways to Accept Unreciprocated Love

It’s a different kind of pain to be loving someone you can’t have. Unreciprocated feelings aren’t easy to deal with, so how exactly can you accept them?

loving someone you can't have

It doesn’t matter who the person is – loving someone you can’t have will always be hard.

Unreciprocated feelings are something everyone has experienced at least once in their lives. When you love or even like someone, it seems unbearable to face the painful truth that they just don’t feel the same way.

No matter how hard you try, there’s just no changing their minds.

Loving someone you can’t have doesn’t always mean they don’t feel the same. Sometimes, the other person may like you but they’re just not ready or they’re stuck in situations where you’ll never have them.

Whenever they’re around, you get consumed by your efforts to conceal your emotions, hoping that the way you stare at them won’t give away your real feelings.

There are times when you ask yourself why you’re subjecting yourself to this kind of torture. Even if it’s painful loving someone you can’t have, you push through the pain anyway.

[Read: What is unrequited love and what’s the best way to deal with it]

How to handle the pain of loving someone you can’t have

No matter who they are in your life, it’s one of the hardest things to love someone you can’t have. Your relationship would be entirely one-sided and there’s nothing you can do about that. There’s really no reason to keep prolonging the pain of unreciprocated feelings.

Even if you think that the pain of losing them entirely would be greater than not having them, you’re putting yourself through a lot of unnecessary agonies. If that’s your decision, then there’s nothing much you can do, except handle the pain that goes with it.

We know what you’re thinking, it’s something that a lot of people have experienced. You’re thinking that it’s just the wrong time and that maybe they’ll change their mind or the right time would eventually come for the two of you to be together.

It all sounds romantic in your head. And while this can certainly happen, it’s a rare circumstance that you shouldn’t put all your hopes on.

So instead of pining over someone you know you can’t have, use this guide on coping with the pain of loving someone you can’t have. [Read: How to lose feelings for someone and let go of the might-have-beens]

1. Enjoy your time together – don’t expect anything more

You know exactly what you got yourself into the minute you stayed in their life. Loving someone you can’t have will never be easy, but it doesn’t mean you should put yourself through more pain. This means you should condition your mind – and especially your heart – to not expect anything more than what they’re providing you with.

Don’t demand anything more than what’s given to you, because it’s likely that they’ll say no. Simply focus on enjoying every minute with them without the expectation of anything more than your current relationship.

Stop focusing on how they’re spending time with their partner afterward. Just appreciate what they can offer you and don’t expect more. [Read: Do you have a big crush or are you experiencing limerence?]

2. Don’t ask questions that could hurt you

We just love asking questions that could potentially hurt us. You need to stop obsessing over your need to know everything.

In the first place, asking whether they love you or whether you have a chance with them are already questions you know the answer to.

We know that the heart can blind logic out of the equation, but you already know the answers to the questions you want to ask them. Don’t keep asking questions in the hope that they’ll change their answer someday.  Your goal is acceptance and clarity so these questions aren’t going to be of help. [Read: How to flirt with a friend – 18 ways to tease them without being weird]

3. Divert your attention to hobbies

There’s no better way to distract the pain of loving someone you can’t have by focusing on your hobbies. This is your chance to focus on the things you love doing, whether it’s music, painting, or even working out. The important thing is you don’t sit around with your feelings all day and dwell on your heartbreak.

Just get out of bed, go to a craft shop—or wherever else you can—and get your hands movin’. Your hobbies are also a great way to express your feelings through your personal form of art.

It doesn’t have to be anything big – your hobbies can be anything as long as they distract you long enough from your heartbreak. Rather than crying all over your feelings, why not trying being productive instead? [Read: How to be emotionless – 16 steps to lose feelings and gain comtrol again]

4. Be a real friend, but protect your feelings

Yes, be their friend, but you’re allowed to say no if it’s taking your unrequited feelings for granted. For instance, you can’t be their shoulder to cry on when they had a fight with their partner or they broke up.

You’re not that person for them, so don’t give them that satisfaction. Loving someone you can’t have is already painful enough, so stop giving them your everything. Given that love can sometimes cloud your better judgment, don’t act as if it’s okay for them to come to you when it’s convenient for them.

If it’s breaking your heart further, then it’s not worth it. At some point, you need to realize that putting yourself first is far more important than being their friend.

It’s okay to listen to them talk about their frustrations with the person they love, but it’s another thing if that’s all you talk about and you’re even helping them plot the perfect surprise party for their beloved.

You’re not being selfless and a martyr – you’re putting yourself through a lot of unnecessary pain. [Read: The martyr complex – How to recognize the signs of the martyr syndrome in you]

5. Be surrounded by friends

If you realize how easy it is to isolate yourself when you’re going through something, you’d really appreciate the times when you surround yourself with friends. No matter how easy this is to do, avoid giving in to the desire to lock yourself in your room and dwell on your feelings.

While this is normal and something you may want to do, it’s not exactly healthy. This might be okay during the first few days of finding out you’re loving someone you can’t have, but any longer than that isn’t healthy. You need your best friends to lift you and remind you that there really are others better suited for you.

There’s nothing like pondering and laughing about your situation over a couple of beers. You need to be around the right company just so your heartbreak doesn’t feel as bad as it actually is. [Read: How to get over someone you love fast and not give a damn anymore]

6. Stay away from hurtful situations

If you know that they’re going to be with their partner at a party, don’t show up. Why would you? Stop destroying your heart just because your love for them is more than the pain you feel. Love shouldn’t work that way, especially unreciprocated love.

You know the truth of the situation, which means there’s no reason to torture yourself. Love shouldn’t be self-sabotaging in a way you find ways to hurt yourself even more.

Why must you do this to yourself? You deserve so much better than tolerating a love you can never have. Sleeping all day or binge-watching your favorite TV show is so much better than seeing the person you love with somebody else.

7. Learn to compartmentalize

To cope with emotional turmoil, you have to learn how to compartmentalize. When you’re with the person you adore, be with them 100%. This is one of the hardest things to master in life, but it’s important in difficult situations.

If you aren’t familiar with compartmentalizing, it’s a defense mechanism of either suppressing your thoughts and emotions. While repressed emotions aren’t healthy, compartmentalizing can actually help you deal with the pain of loving someone you can’t have.

Even if you feel immense love for them, even when the pain of never being with them can be overwhelming, do your best to suppress those emotions especially when you’re together.

Make sure that when you’re working or doing something else, your mind is not wrapped around them. It takes a lot of practice, but it can be done. [Read: 10 signs you’re lovesick and 10 quick ways to get out of it]

8. Devote 30 minutes every day to sulk

Okay, we’re not saying you can’t cry about how they don’t love you while eating a tub of ice cream and watching The Notebook. It’s perfectly healthy to release your emotions every now and then, but limit it to just a few minutes a day. Set a specific time in your day to just be sentimental about your one-sided love affair.

Even if it hurts, you can’t let your thoughts of them consume you every day. You need to realize you can be happy even outside your heartbreak, and that’s exactly what you have to do. You can cry, scream, yell, do whatever you want for those 30 minutes.

However, when the time is over, go back to being calm and composed. It sounds like a crazy idea, but it’s effective! It might sound crazy to schedule your breakdown moments, but if it works, why not?

9. Stop pretending you’re okay

If you’re really in pain, you don’t have to pretend you’re okay. Not anymore. You’ve been dealing with this for months *or years* and it is exhausting to put on a fake smile all the time. Honestly, you don’t even have to be their friend if it’s no longer adding any benefit in your life.

If you think it’s best to cut them off just to help you move on, then you’re free to do so. It doesn’t make you a bad person to stop being their friend because it hurts too much. This means no crying on your shoulder every time they fight or helping them find the perfect anniversary gift.

Especially when they’re just using you, why bother anyway? Don’t laugh or smile if you really don’t feel like doing those things, either. You are entitled to express your real feelings, just like they’re entitled to theirs. [Read: How your self respect affects you and the relationship with your crush]

10. Limit contact as much as possible

It’s going to hurt a little before it can start to get better again. You won’t get anywhere in moving on if you stay within close proximity with them. It’s the same reason they always know you’re available to hang out or do whatever with them whenever their partner isn’t available.

It takes a lot of strength and courage to walk away from something that hurts you, which is exactly why you must do it. Think about your heart and your mental health. Your love for them might feel immense, but it shouldn’t encompass the love you have for yourself.

We’re not saying you should do something as drastic as blocking them everywhere *although that’s also a great idea*, but simply limiting your communication with them would be good. Stop texting them all the time, tagging them in posts, or messaging them on their socials.

You must learn to turn away from something that only gives you temporary happiness and be okay with missing out, because here’s something you should know: if it causes you distress, you’re not missing anything! [Read: How to unlove someone – 14 powerful ways to conquer the impossible]

11. Date other people

When you’re busy loving someone you can’t have, this is probably the last thing you’re thinking about. After all, why would you want to date other people when you’re focused on loving that one person?

However, don’t be scared that you’ll lose the tiniest chance of having the person you can’t have.

You’re the only one being sentimental about it. You’ll never find the right person meant for you if you keep pushing yourself towards the wrong person.

We know you think you’re waiting for the right timing or opportunity, but what if it never comes? Are you really going to miss out on something great just because of the wrong person?

In fact, if they do like you, dating others can give them that envy and jealousy they need to actually make a move towards you. It gives them the sense of urgency that they’re going to lose you if they don’t do something about it. [Read: How to kiss a friend accidentally and get away with it]

12. Hide them from your feeds

Social media is really an amusing thing, especially when loving someone you can’t have. It doesn’t help you in any significant way if you keep checking their Instagram stories or staying updated with whatever is going on in their life. Muting them from your feed can help you have more peace and clarity in your life.

It permits you to focus on moving forward rather than obsessing over their actions and life. Once and for all, hide them from your timeline. They’re like an addiction. You have to cut them out of your life, by all means.

You’re not being harsh, but you’re being practical and kind to yourself. It’s not that easy to move on – if it was, nobody would be scared of heartbreak. [Read: How to distance yourself from a friend without a lot of drama]

13. Write about your feelings

There’s no better way to express your feelings than to write about them. Writing about our feelings can give us a clearer view of what we’re going through. This is a well-known therapy technique that won’t cost you a dime. The best thing about writing is nobody will judge or criticize you for writing them.

Even when you pour all your love and pain on paper for the person you can’t have, nobody will call you out. Writing is the best way you can let out all your emotions without the fear of being judged for feeling that way. When it comes down to it, you’re allowed to feel whatever you feel, but it’s important to have a source of release.

In this case, it’s writing. What makes this better is that you can actually re-read what you’ve written, so you can assess yourself better. This serves as a great proof of just how crazy you are being!

14. Write a letter to yourself

After writing about everything you feel, you can also choose to write a letter to yourself. No, you’re not being crazy doing this. Letters to yourself are great ways to validate your feelings and also find closure. It can help you forgive yourself for not knowing better and for chasing someone you can never have.

Nobody ever said loving someone you can’t have will be easy. What you need to remember is that it isn’t your fault for loving them so hard that you thought you’d change their mind or wait for the right time.

What would you advise yourself? How would you empathize with yourself? What would you want to tell yourself? Writing a letter to yourself can help you reconnect with yourself, so you can face reality, and make new plans for your life. [Read: How to stop a selfish friend from hurting you and using you]

15. Finally, tell them what you feel without expecting anything

In order to move past your unreciprocated feelings, the last step is to tell them everything you feel without expecting anything in return. It’s hard to confess without expectations, but face the facts. Sometimes, they’re not ever going to feel the same way or they’re never going to be ready.

There is no right time – it’s either they want to be with you or they don’t. It will relieve you of all the self-inflicted tension you’ve built up over time. Simply let them know that you like them, but know you can’t have them. Confessing will relieve you of all the self-inflicted tension you’ve built up over time.

As long as you’re not hurting anyone in the process and you’re not in love with someone prohibited like a family member, tell them what you feel and let go.

[Read: 13 naughty steps to get out of the friend zone in no time]

So, how do you deal with loving someone you can’t have?

When you love someone you can’t have, it’s the kind of heartbreak that’s not easy to deal with. Whether they’re your best friend or just a stranger, unreciprocated love is hard no matter what. However, you can’t torture yourself even further by expecting it to be something more than it is.

The first rule is to never make it to be something it’s clearly not. Don’t think you’re going to change their mind by being a martyr in their life – it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes, you just have to accept the painful reality of the situation and move on with your life.

[Read: When will I find love? 20 secrets that will bring your ONE closer to you]

It’s painful to love someone you can’t have, but don’t let it take over your life. It’s not the end of the world just because they’re in love with someone else or they’re not ready. Stop forcing yourself to them and accept that things just aren’t meant to be. The earlier you accept this, the faster you’ll find someone who naturally loves you for you.

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...