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Loving Someone Who Doesn’t Love You Back

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Chiara Mazzucco

CEO, Editor-in-Chief at The Indie Chicks, Inc
Chiara got her start in the blogosphere by dishing out reality slaps on her dating and relationship blog. The brutal honesty that became her signature tone earned her the badass reputation she needed to get The Indie Chicks magazine up and running. She is also a web designer and author of The 9 Mirages of Love. Driven, stubborn, and wildly ambitious, she won’t stop until she is the perfect, self-empowered role model for all of her readers.

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This is one of my most popular posts from my old blog, ChiaraSays. Enjoy and please share with those in need.

How do you deal with loving someone who doesn’t love you back? Why is it so hard to get over it and come to grips with reality? What’s preventing us from healing from such a deep wound, knowing the pain can often be unbearable?

Love hurts. Love stinks. Love is blind. At some point in life, we’ve all experienced the pain that poets and songwriters have written about for ages. Usually, it’s because we’ve loved someone who hasn’t loved us back. Feeling so emotionally invested in something we’re being told doesn’t even exist is often the most excruciating pain, yet we endure it. Why?

Identify It

There are many degrees of one-sided love. If I were to describe them all, we’d be here all day and you wouldn’t actually get to the solution part of the article. In the name of salvation, I’ll only discuss the three MAIN ones instead.

Obsession from Afar:

You know this one. You’re head over heels for someone who doesn’t even know your name. Or perhaps you’re madly in love with a friend or acquaintance who is, for one reason or another, completely unattainable. I’d like to believe this only happens in movies but unfortunately our minds are powerful, powerful tools; if we want something bad enough, we don’t need much to go on in order to believe someone is within reach.

The Repeat Offender:

This one refers to relationships and is by far the most common and the most delusional. Not only do we hold on to the hope that somehow the “love” will be rekindled, but we’re willing to wait around forever because we simply refuse to believe that such passion could be so short lived. When you started dating, you could have sworn up and down that no one had ever experienced the type of connection the two of you had. You ignore all signs that are telling you it’s over and, despite the overwhelming pain and nights spent crying, the smallest part of you holds on for dear life.

You’re Great, but I’m Not Interested:

This one is perhaps one of the most relatable: you gather up the balls to express your undying devotion—or mere attraction—to this person only to get rejected with the standard, “Oh you’re sweet…, but you’re not really my type.” Or the worse, “But we’re such good friends, I couldn’t.” What sets you apart from the rest of the world is that you don’t just walk away in defeat and go for your next potential obsession; you wallow in misery and refuse to accept rejection.

Why We Can’t Just Move On

Love is a clusterfuck of complexities. And like the previous section, I can’t describe all the reasons we fall into such a painful trap. Not only are there too many to list—dependent on each individual case—but some just cannot be explained with rationality. With that being said, here are two reasons we deny escape:

1. Wishful Thinking

This is the devil. There are a few stages of denial: Your friends could lay out a list of reasons why you need to move on and you would remain there, glossy eyed and oblivious. That’s the worst stage and it needs the most intervention. The lesser and more common stage is when you’re completely aware of every single reason you need to stop loving the person, yet you simply can’t and you don’t know why. I’ll tell you why. It’s because deep inside, small and buried away, is the last ray of wishful thinking. Like a cancer, it multiplies at the sign of hope for survival. And really, no matter how large or small, the potential damage is the same.

2. Our Ego

You’d never admit it, but deep inside you’re wondering, “How can this person not see how much of a catch I am?” You can’t help but wonder what he sees in his new lover. This way of thinking is pretty harmless. In fact, having an ego about the situation can usually result in you realizing you’re too good to endure such pain and rejection. However, it takes nothing more than a little push and bam. You’re back into delusion land; you once again believe you’re so great that your doorbell is going to ring any second, and your obsession will be down on one knee whispering, “I was wrong… you are the one.”

 

Wake Up. Your life was not written to be a Katherine Heigl or Patrick Demsey movie.

5 Steps: How to Stop Loving Someone Who Doesn’t Love You

Take the following steps and adjust them to your situation and level of attachment

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  • Devan

    Hey Chiara,

    I’m fifteen years old and I was thirteen and a half when I started dating my best friend that I had all through elementary school. We hugged and kissed and the like, but I always had to initiate it. He was always a quiet guy when it came to serious stuff, and I felt like I wanted to be pursued. I tried to break up with him and convince myself that I needed someone who had more “drive” to gain my affection, but I couldnt do it: I clung to that hope that it was just a puberty thing and he’d grow out of it. We hung on for 1 & 1/2 years. I don’t really have much of a “support system” right now, and Ive got some serious issues at home, so Ive been living with him and his family (I gave him space, we were fine for a few months).

    A few days ago, he decided we should just be friends after I asked him if there was something wrong. I thought I would be totally cool with it and I thought we COULD still be friends, but lately I’ve just been so upset. I can’t picture him with anyone else, and I dont want to be with anyone else either. He tells me he only loves me as a friend, but we cried last night together and he acted like he just felt like he wasnt good enough, and he wanted to break up for my benefit. I don’t want to just be his friend – I have this urge to be held by him almost all the time, and it hurts so much I can’t even explain. We’re just so confused and I figured it was because we were stupid 15 year olds and this is a normal thing. I can’t get away from him because I’m living with him, and we’d been friends for so long, I can’t imagine not seeing him – but I cant imagine not seeing him as my boyfriend ever again either. I feel silly because everyone seems to be unfased by this except me (I mean, he’s upset, but he struggles to show it. We cried together and he hugged me last night, but I just dont understand). I cant even really put my finger on what it is that makes me want to be with him. He has communication issues, and even his family says they have a hard time getting the deep-down stuff out of him. But I don’t care anymore. Its driving me crazy and I don’t want to stay broken up. Also, he’s not really the jerk in this, he feels really bad, which makes me think theres something more to it.

    I know that you aren’t in the situation and you haven’t met us nor know what we’re like, but ive asked everyone for guidance, and Im still lost. I stumbled across your article on the internet and I just wondered if you had any extra advice for my situation.

    Thanks, You’re awesome,
    Devan

    • http://www.theindiechicks.com Chiara

      Hi Devan,
      What a situation, indeed. Listen, it’s a lot more complicated than just being stupid 15 year olds. You’re young, yes, but that doesn’t make the emotions any less real.

      My first love was also at 15 and it has played the biggest role in defining who I am and my role in romantic relationships. Looking back, it seemed like the Apocalypse. I couldn’t see a brighter tomorrow … for months. The feelings were so strong that it swallowed us whole and it lingered for years after.

      So I know about first loves and their power.. And this is exactly what this is. A very powerful first love. You’re both feeling these intense emotions and have no idea how to deal with them.. and unlike other teen loves, you’re living together, making the process that much harder and more confusing.

      I know you cannot imagine not being with him but that’s because he’s all you’ve ever known. Something is blocking you both from being together.. unfortunately, you have to listen.

      The ideal situation would entail you moving out and/or finding somewhere else to live while you gather yourself. You can try, force, fight your way back into the relationship but it’ll never be what you want it to be. Whether it’s him not being ready or you just not being meant to be together. Fate continues to work its magic whether we’re ready for it or not – and we hardly ever are.

      Embrace the time you’ve spent together, everything you’ve learned about life and about yourself and cherish it – don’t try to force more out of it because, again, it won’t be what you expect. He’s young, too. He has a lot of growing up and learning to do.. he has to learn who he is .. without you. Just like you need to learn to define yourself, without him.

      Once you accept this, the process will be (a little) easier. It’s still going to hurt and you’re going to have to let that pain sink in to move forward. But I promise, though it doesn’t seem like it, there IS a brighter tomorrow.. And any woman who has lived at all will vouch for this. Stay strong, Devan. Your heart will mend and once you allow yourself, you will meet a handful of more loves. The next ‘great’ loves of your life have an entire world to show you and and lessons to teach you.

  • http://youngmanbrown.com youngmanbrown

    You nailed it. Especially the last part about when you don’t think about it anymore, you’re ready.

    Also loved the Armageddon vs. sunny day thing :)

  • Sam

    Hey Chiara,

    I’m 19, I will be 20 this year. I’ve been in love with this girl from school since the first day of college, (I would call it love I guess) the thing is, I fell hard for her. From the start I know she has a boyfriend. And just to get things straight, I’m kind of a quiet, nerdy and not so good looking guy and I don’t usually go for girls who are taken. (I rarely “go” for girls)

    But one day I puck up the courage to hang out with her, not on a date but just a normal hang out. Our ‘relationship/friendship’ grew from there onwards. We loved to watch films after school. She would talk about her life (in Korea, she a korean studying in Singapore, where I live) and I would share my thoughts about my life and we had this ‘connection’ you know?

    Until one day, someone told her that I like her. And I got the “I think you’re a great friend but….” missile straight to my heart. From there onwards, she denies it, but I know and I felt that things were super awkward between us.

    Thing is, I’ve been under her spell. She’s perfect. Even when she’s not, she is. I can’t stop seeing her as more than a person. I’m trying, but it’s so hard. She’s a nerd like me. She love books, she’s what the online community would call a “Nerdfighter”, so am I. We share the same music interest.

    I question why she’s dating this guy who’s the total opposite of her, who works at a professional pole dancing studio. This might be selfish but I know she deserves so much more. Maybe not me, but so much more you know?

    Sorry for the long post. I know this might seem like a common problem I’d guess? But it’s something that I wanna let go. I can never stop seeing her as an angel. Even her name has the word “Angel” in it…. I’ve read your post and it seems like getting over her is… possible? This may not seem much but it sort of gave me a ray of hope that I could, maybe I could get over her…

    Thanks and DFTBA (what we nerdfighters always say :D)
    -Sam

  • Michelle

    Im twenty currently in my second term of college. So i noticed this quiet guy who was ruff around the edges type. Yet he seemed so determined to suceed in class. So i started talking to him in the library. He asked for my number and the whole weekend we talked for hours on the phone. i know we just met but it was realli intense and something special was starting between us. but on monday he saw me and blew me off. then it almost seemed as if he was avoiding me; rejecting my calls and everything now i need to know what went wrong i feel crazy

  • Nihal

    Chiara,

    I am going to have to disagree with your view here in your fifth step. First of all, your fifth step is not the ultimate solution to deal with a situation like this. There are times which you can become desperate, because of how you feel, which in your language, consider it an “ego”, which I perfectly understand. Well, when you fall in love with someone and they don’t like you back, this is something which can become very frustrating becuase you are in love.

    If a person doesn’t like you back, then don’t you think that person is stupid for missing out an opportunity with you, a person that truly loves you? If that person doesn’t like you back, they have created the biggest loss, and sadly, the world is to look down on the lover, and categorize the person as the one creating the problem, when it is really the other person who chooses not to love back.

    Really, there should be two solutions, the first solution is to try to get that person to like you back, and then the second solution would be that if the first solution fails, then to accept and not let the other person not liking you back bother you, instead accept that you love her and be happy with that. Writing harshly by saying “to move the fuck on” isn’t going to change anything, but create rage with the lovers who don’t want to stop something very important on what they feel, which is love.

    Sadly, everyone is brainwashed into thinking that the person who doesn’t love you back is a victim of the lover, whom we call consider, an obsessive stalker. It shouldn’t be looked at like this because it is really the other person who is stupid not to like you back. Also furthermore, it is a shame that everyone makes a standard that if you love a person, its not love unless the other person likes you back, when most of the time, never happens.

    What people need to understand is that if the person is in love with someone who doesn’t love them back, they shouldn’t criticize them for having such an emotion. As for the person who is in love, they need to not let someone who doesn’t like you back bother you, instead accept that you are in love and save it in your heart.

  • http://stronger4ever.wordpress.com/ Short Rachel

    Chiara…
    This was one of the best posts I have read on this subject. I am hopelessly in love with my best friend, you know the story–we have been through shit together, drink together, ect. I have watched him date other people–one of my close girlfriends dated him behind my back. I always tell myself it’s ok…and convinve myself that I love him like my brother. It doesn’t take away my fear of losing him…or sharing him…and what’s worse is now that I have attempted to start dating again (after a bad breakup) I find myself sabotoging these new relationships subconsciously.

    What woke me up was specifically last night, my date and I grabbed drinks at a bar and I was going on and on about my best friend and what a great guy he is. I don’t know how to stop this…we have the same group of friends so I am always around him…and pulling away seems like it might rip my heart in two at this point. What do you think?

  • Rose

    Hey Chiara,

    It seems so easy reading about it, but the truth is…. I just simply don’t seem to be able to get over this one guy. I do my best, and every day I reassure myself that there is someone out there who does love me and that I shouldn’t be wasting my time. But less than a minute later I would find myself checking his Facebook page. I wake up with this guy in my head and go to sleep with the same thoughts. I just get so tired of myself. I keep convincing myself that he must like me a little bit, even though I know he’s not interested. Why is it than that I keep myself happy with telling those lies, to keep my heard from bleeding maybe? And now I just read on twitter (I’m a stalker, I know) that he will be abroad for more than a week. I already feel lonely and depressed, why is this so hard?
    How amazing would life be if we could make people love us…

    Thank you so much for this post. I could really see myself in your story (well at least the first part, getting over him still seems like an impossible problem)

    xxxxxx Rose

    • Jerome

      Any piece of advise on this coz have the same thing like yours…

  • Clara

    I dated a guy for about 5 months, I totally feel happy whenever i am with him. We got along great never fought but one night, i had much drink on me and then got a little jealous and then embarrassed him in front of his female friends, Because of that he broke up with me right there. For the first week i tried to do everything in my power to get him back but all were in veil. Till a friend introduce me to this great man called Dr.Sango of sangospelltemple@gmail.com I was surprise when Dr.Sango told me that my lover will come back to me within 3 days. But the good news is that my lover is really back to me now all thanks so much Contact Dr.Sango on sangospelltemple@gmail.com

  • Salma

    Wow I relate to this article so much, it’s basically what’s been happening in my life lately ! Thank u so much ,I enjoyed every word and I think it’s going to help me get on my feet again , God bless you !!