When The Person You Love Doesn't Love You

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The pain when you love someone who doesn't love you
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Heartbreak

You want to be with someone who loves you, and if someone doesn't, move on.

It’s hard but it happens. And it hurts.

You find yourself loving someone who doesn't love you back; or you love someone who acted like there was a possibility of love in return, but now there’s not; or you love someone who simply doesn’t feel the same way and isn’t going to feel the same way, ever; or you loved someone deeply who loved you deeply and then this person just switched off and hurt you in ways that were unimaginable; or this person loved you and you loved them and then someone new came along and they left. 

Whatever the situation, you’re left with a big pile of hurt when unrequited love sneaks its way into your life. You recall your exchanges over and over in your mind. Where did it go wrong or fail to go right? What should you have done that you didn’t? What did you do that you shouldn’t have?


RELATED: Why You Will Never Be Enough For The Wrong Heart


You feel rejected and that something really is wrong with you. You wonder what you could do to make this person want you.

Maybe your ex is with someone new or just fell out of love one day. Or failed to fall in love on the day you did. That’s even more baffling. There is nothing and no one else. Or your ex has spiraled into some other mindset. They’re depressed or upset or self-absorbed in some way.

Wouldn’t you want someone to help carry the burden, you ask. The answer is please leave me alone.

You’re freaking out. How is it that they want you to help by going away? The first emotion is disbelief. How can this be? How did I get here? How am I hurting over this person? Maybe your personality is draining away — you used to be fun and helpful and have a great sense of humor. Now you’re plain and dull and you’re boring all your friends with your sad refrain of unrequited love.

Part of you refuses to believe it. It can't be so. Something will change. This is a phase. This is temporary. I’ll just sit here and wait for my love to smarten up and see the light. That is what I will do. Better yet, I will change things. I will call him or her or text him or her. We will get into a big emotional conversation and I will persuade them that this is all wrong.

My suggestion is to stop and not do anything, which, in the beginning, is the hardest thing to do. You’re having trouble absorbing the news and are doing your damnedest to make it different or refuse to believe it’s over.

It’s natural to deny it, but it’s important to believe it when loving someone who doesn't love you back. You can take your time but you have to move in the direction of believing it because it’s true. Let it slowly sink in and do the hardest thing there is to do: Nothing.

Doing nothing in a situation like this takes energy. It takes a lot of energy. You will think you spend all your time NOT doing something. And that’s because you are. Your natural inclination is to DO something, which is the thing you must not do.

After you start to believe it and allow yourself to NOT do anything, you will start to feel the feelings. You feel hurt, anger, betrayal. You feel rejected and less than. Your self-esteem is taking a huge hit from feeling rejection.

At this point the urge to do something returns. You start to take all the responsibility for the ending. You see your mistakes and shortcomings under a big magnifying glass. You revisit things that your ex complained about: you make things up, your mind reels with ideas of how to change into someone easier to love.

I’ll be quieter, thinner, happier. I won’t complain so much. I won’t rock the boat. I’ll like the insufferable family and friends that I couldn’t stand. I’ll go back to school. I’ll stop going to school. I’ll wear different clothes. I’ll buy a new car. I’ll get those allergy shots so I can be around that cat.

I’ll work in a different industry. I’ll muzzle my kids. I’ll clean more. I’ll clean less. I’ll cook gourmet meals. I’ll listen when spoken to. I’ll go to bed earlier. I’ll go to bed later. I’ll go to church. I’ll stop going to church. I’ll pray. I’ll bargain with God. I’ll help the poor. I’ll devote myself to the eradication of world hunger. I’ll give my next paycheck to the church. I’ll join the Peace Corps.

I’ll do anything, ANYTHING, if only you make this person come back. I’ll be everything You want me to be or everything this person wants me to be. I’ll do it all. I’ll do nothing. I’ll be more. I’ll be less. I’ll be everything and anything other than what I’m being right now. I’ll turn myself inside out to be the person he or she will love. I can do it. I will do it.


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STOP! Stop right there. Forget about changing for someone else. Forget about bargaining for what you should have without bribing whatever deity you believe in. Forget about changing your whole life just so this narrow-minded little bonehead will love you.

Every relationship is a learning experience. In each relationship, we learn what parts of us could use improvement. But not because this person found them unattractive or irritating but because YOU found them unattractive or irritating.

We all have regrets and things we wish we could do over. A relationship shines a light on all the things we need to change and every breakup gives us the opportunity to work hard on ourselves. But it’s not for someone else or to be loved. It’s for our own self-improvement and our own progress.

But don't change things in yourself just because this person didn’t like it. Maybe this person has no taste or doesn’t know a thing. Don’t think of changing for another person. Only change for you. It’s okay to accept someone’s constructive criticism if it’s spot-on and will help you in the end, but if not, just reject it.

When you are leaving a relationship where someone doesn’t love you anymore or failing to move further in a relationship because someone won’t or can’t love you, there is a hit to the self-esteem. It’s a rejection no matter how you slice it. And it’s a rejection that stings.

However, it’s important to take it in stride. Taking it in stride means telling yourself that you are okay no matter what. Yes, there might be things that need improvement but it is a lovable, worthwhile person who is willing to look at those things and change them.

And if this person does not value all that you are and all that you can be there is only one sentiment to go in that direction: LET THEM GO. Seriously. It is time to reject the "rejecter." And his or her ridiculous standards of measurement. 

You want someone who loves you and thinks you are the best thing that ever happened to them. If this person doesn’t get that, then the hell with this person. Stop talking to him or her. Stop trying to convince them otherwise. Stop waiting around for him or her to “get it.”

The bottom line is that you do not want someone who does not want you, no matter what the reason. He or she does not want you.

Yes, it hurts and it stings. And love is all about not about being hurt or stung by rejection. Don’t sit around waiting for this person to want you. Reject anyone who doesn’t want you. They are not worth it. The first prerequisite for love is to be mutual. Otherwise, it’s not okay and it's unrequited love. Reject the rejecter.

Use this breakup to work on yourself and get ready for true love, real love, lasting love. Get ready for a relationship with yourself and then a relationship with a loving and appreciative person who will come into your life once you learn to value you. And you start valuing you by rejecting the rejection and the rejecter.

Be good to yourself. Today and always. In a relationship or out of a relationship. Be good to you.


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Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed. is the developer of the Getting Past Your Past series of workshops and seminars, author of “Getting Past Your Breakup: How To Turn A Devastating Loss Into The Best Thing That Ever Happened To You.”

This article was originally published at GettingPastYourBreakup. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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