I once fell in love with a man who didn’t love me. He said he did, but I knew better. Love, after all, does not work that way. Such is the pain of unrequited love. Now many people would say, “why give your heart to someone who wouldn’t love you?” Some may call me foolish, and perhaps I am.
The man I fell in love with made my heart soar. It wasn’t some sort of crush that would ultimately die within the coming weeks. I was deeply and irrevocably in love with him, and the sad part was that he didn’t love me back the way I wish he would. Sure, he was happy to see me, but it wasn’t necessarily for the same reasons I was happy being with him.
What I learned from unrequited love
Love is indeed complicated, because it takes two people who form an attraction for each other, but that doesn’t mean they’re right for each other. I’ve realized that there was more to love than just pining for someone who would never be yours, at least not wholeheartedly.
#1 The chase becomes an emotional rollercoaster ride that you want to get off of. It took me months of being in a hellish emotional rollercoaster ride filled with days of bliss and nights where I would cry myself to sleep knowing that he would never be mine.
Though I had long accepted the fact that he would never love me, there was still this certain pang that cuts very deep. There were days when I felt tortured. I wanted just a fraction of love, but it was never given to me. I felt like I was dying a little every single day. [Read: 11 signs you’re facing unrequited love]
#2 Having a one-sided kind of love is beautiful, but is ultimately empty. To love is perhaps the most beautiful emotion one can feel. It is also the most painful, because one can feel myriad emotions all at once. One feels empty, unfulfilled. It is something that makes you restless at night, and makes you long for something that cannot be given to you.
But despite the emptiness, there’s always something so painfully romantic about pining for the one you love. There’s that glimmer of hope that they will love you back, and you hold on to that shred of light with all your strength. It helps you build resilience, and to some extent, it introduces you to the many nuances of sadness and longing that only unrequited love can make you feel.
#3 You realize that it’s not his fault. For this fact, I know that I can never hate him for what he has done. Love, after all, is a choice. It can be reciprocated or not. We are only human, and it is not his fault if he can’t love me in return. Perhaps I have done the same thing to many people, and I was unaware of it. Life is all about free will, after all. I cannot force him to love me, no more than I cannot be forced to love someone I don’t love.
#4 People can teach us how to love unconditionally, but don’t have to love us back. Unconditional love is perhaps the purest form of love one can ever have.The thing about unconditional love is that there are people who would teach you how to give it, but these are not necessarily the ones who would love you in return.
When you love someone whom you know will never love you back, there comes a point where reciprocity will no longer matter. You just give and give and give with no expectations. Sure, it may not be healthy when overdone, but the sooner you learn that such a love is possible, the better.
#5 Staying in love or leaving will always be your choice. I told myself that I will always have a choice on the matter. In the end, I decided to walk away. The choice was painful to make at first, and I admit that it was a struggle on my part. But I learned that when the heart has had enough, it will tell you that it’s time to sever the ties and walk away. [Read: 15 lessons you can learn from your own breakups]
#6 We can never force feelings on others. Looking back, I realized how selfish I must have been. Human feelings are but a product of chemical reactions. Still, I couldn’t force my unrequited feelings on the man who wouldn’t love me. It was a pointless folly, I would tell you that. He was happy with his love for someone else, while my unrequited feelings for him slowly tortured me.
Some would resort to manipulation or blackmail to get that one person to finally fall for them. But when you think about it, when you resort to dirty tricks, the beauty of mutual love turns into an empty conquest.
#7 Unrequited love teaches you what real love is and isn’t. It’s easy to believe that love is all about attraction and that feeling of butterflies in your stomach. But that’s probably just infatuation. Real love is when you accept all the good things, while also opening yourself up to the pain that comes with giving your heart to someone.
When I fell in love with him, I was caught in the haze of my attraction. But when I learned that my love was one-sided, I learned that there’s much more to love than the emotional high. And that’s when I realized that real love means accepting both the pleasure and the pain. [Read: 10 guys you should stop dating if you want real love]
#8 What might pain me now will be but a memory. Looking back on my experience of not being loved back has made me realize what a bittersweet memory that was. I can now look back on that memory and smile, without it bringing a twinge of pain to my heart. At the time, it may have felt like I would never recover from my ordeal, but after time has dampened the pain, I can accept the lessons I’ve learned from my experience. And that’s why I will choose to cherish the memory forever.
#9 You will never know the right kind of love until you have experienced the wrong one. As clichéd as it might sound, the wrong kind of love helped me find the right one. It was only in loving the wrong man that made me see what I deserved. There are times when you find yourself settling for the love that you can get, simply because you feel that it’s what you deserve, and because you’re afraid of never finding love again.
In reality, these unpleasant experiences with love will teach you what you shouldn’t be aiming for when you look for a partner. When you know what you don’t want, you’re closer to figuring out what you do want. [Read: 10 types of love you’ll experience in your life]
#10 Love, above all, is wishing for another person’s happiness more than your own. To love someone truly is a selfless act. When I realized that the man I loved didn’t love me because his heart belonged to another, I realized that if I truly loved him, I would wish no ill will upon him. Instead, I learned to slowly let him go. The decision I made was initially painful, but time is a good teacher and healer. I only wish true happiness for him and his love. Wherever he is now, I hope he is happy, because I know that I am.
[Read: What I learned when you broke my heart]
To the man who didn’t love me, I say thank you. I hold a special place for you in my heart, because you have showed me the vulnerability of love. I have learned to be more selfless and kind. My unrequited love for you was what saved me from living a lonely life, and for that I will always be grateful. Thank you for letting me love you, even if you didn’t love me.
While unrequited love may not be something we outwardly wish to experience, finally feeling the pain of loving someone who won’t return your love will ultimately help you become more mature and realistic in your quest for love.
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