What is unrequited love?

You want to take them home to meet your folks but they don't even know you exist. Anyone who has ever experienced unrequited love knows the pain it can cause. If you're caught up in a Shakespearean love story, read on to learn how to cope.

A group of young people are laughing. They are letting go of unrequited love. This is a wide-angle image.

The meaning of unrequited love

It’s time to answer the basic question first – What is unrequited love?

Let’s say you fall for someone big time. You don’t even have to be dating. It can be a crush that turns into a fantasy, maybe an obsession. Whatever the case, if your love interest doesn’t share your feelings it can spark a sense of loss, yearning and frustration that may prove hard to overcome. This is unrequited love.

Signs of unrequited love

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • You think about them all the time even though you don’t know them or hardly see them.
  • Whenever you see them you get all flustered and embarrassed.
  • They clearly think of you as a friend or acquaintance, yet you wish they were much more.

Why do things get so out of control?

Every experience is unique, but a pattern has to build for the sense of love to become so strong that it threatens to overwhelm. For example, just spending a lot of time thinking about that person, without actually seeing them, can cause your feelings to grow out of proportion. Or perhaps you see them all the time, for example a friend’s older sibling or even a teacher. Your position means it’s impossible for a relationship to truly develop, so the idea takes hold in your mind as your imagination runs wild. Before you know it, they’re all you can think about, yet you’ve barely said a word to them in a social situation.

Dealing with unrequited love

Only time can help get strong emotions into perspective. You can’t fall out of love with someone overnight, after all, and in some ways you need time to grieve for this lost love. In fact, what you’re likely to go through is quite similar to going through a break up, although obviously in this case it’s only you that suffers the emotional pain. To truly move on, you may need to be brutally honest with yourself and admit that it’ll never happen. Our article on accepting it’s over might help you process your emotions better.

It’s easy to become withdrawn from everyday life when you’re bewitched by someone who doesn’t feel the same way, but it’s vital that you get out and fill your time constructively. Eventually this person will have less of an effect on your emotions.

Surround yourself with friends and lean on them to help regain control. Talking will help get things in perspective, but if that makes you feel uncomfortable then just time spent having a laugh in their company can remind you that there’s more fun to be had being a free agent.

Have you got a story about how you got over your unrequited love for someone? Why not share it with the friendly community on our discussion boards?

Next Steps

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 29-Dec-2021