What is unrequited love?

Loving someone is complicated. Loving someone when they don’t love you back is just damn tough. Anyone who has ever experienced unrequited love can attest to that fact. 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.

Unrequited love meaning

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 full of lust. Whatever the case, if your love interest doesn’t feel the same way it can cause a lot of pain. Everything from a sense of loss to anger and frustration will probably course through your body. Unfortunately, those feelings of rejection are probably going to stay there for a while. 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, but you wish they were so much more.

We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if they do, you’re stuck in an unrequited love.

Why do things get so out of control?

Every experience is unique. But, generally speaking, a pattern has to build for the sense of love to take over your life. 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. Maybe they’re even a friend’s older sibling or even a teacher. Your current relationship to them might make it impossible for romantic relationships to truly develop. Instead, the idea takes hold in your mind and your imagination runs wild. Before you know it, they’re all you can think about; meanwhile, outside of your head, you’ve barely said two words to them.

Dealing with unrequited love

Now that you can stop searching ‘What is unrequited love?’ at 1am, you need to know how to face it. 

If you’ve experienced unrequited love, then only time can help put strong emotions into perspective. You can’t get over the person you love overnight – Rome wasn’t built, or in this case deconstructed, in a day, right? You need time to grieve for this lost love. In fact, what you’re likely to go through is quite similar to enduring an actual break up. Although in this case it’s only you that suffers the emotional pain. The first step to truly moving on is to be brutally honest with yourself. Face the fact that it was never a real option. Our article on accepting it’s over might help you with this process.

Surround yourself with friends and lean on them to help regain control. Talking can really help get your head straight. And if you’re not ready to talk yet, then just spend time having a laugh in their company. It’ll help remind you that there’s more fun to be had being a free agent.

On top of spending time with others, make sure to take time for yourself. Figure out what you want to do in your life, and make plans to get there. You’ve spent so long thinking about someone else – now’s the time to refocus and get back in touch with yourself. And one thing you should NOT do, under any circumstance, is stalk their social media. Trust us, it’ll just make you spiral.

Next Steps

  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
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By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 29-Dec-2021