When you love someone and they don’t love you, it’s a situation that many people find themselves in. You might love them from afar or have already confessed your feelings and been rebuffed. Either way, it can be difficult to get over.
“Why do we love someone who doesn’t love us back?” is a question that many people have asked at one point or another. Why do we invest in someone who has no interest in us? And why is it so hard to stop loving them?
The answer is actually quite simple: human beings are wired for connection, and the brain often confuses these connections as “love”–even if they’re not healthy connections or even connections at all.
We need to be connected with others, and it’s something that can’t be changed. We might as well make the most of this need for connection in our lives.
What Is It Called When You Love Someone And They Don’t Love You?
It’s called “unrequited love” or “one-sided love.” It’s a common experience to have feelings of love for someone who doesn’t return them. In fact, some people assume that this is the norm–that everyone loves everyone else, and it just takes one person to make it “official.”
And when you love someone who doesn’t love you, you might feel like there’s something wrong with you because of it (or at least that other people think something is wrong with you for feeling this way).
Why Is It Painful To Love Someone Who Doesn’t Love You?
Because love is a primal emotion triggered by chemicals in your brain–the same chemicals that may make you hungry or tired.
We experience love because we get some sort of physiological reward for being in a loving relationship: physiological and social. Getting love from our community is essential for survival and reproduction–and this need is too strong to ignore or suppress.
The fact that you love someone who doesn’t love you can feel like your brain and body are betraying you.
A brain primed for connection to a certain person will experience symptoms of love when connected to that person–whether or not this is a healthy relationship.
An unhealthy relationship will hurt more than simply being in no relationship because you’ll be depriving yourself of any type of social support (physiological and human connection).
What Do You Do When You Love Someone Who Doesn’t Love You?
1. Love yourself
You’re enough. You deserve love.
This doesn’t mean loving yourself to the point of narcissism. And it doesn’t mean you won’t need to work on your relationship with yourself.
In fact, working on self-love will help you in your quest for love: because when you feel good about who you are, you’ll be more attractive to others.
2. Make A Plan For How/When You Can Move Forward From This Point In Your Life
You may have feelings for this person forever, but it’s not healthy to live with someone who doesn’t reciprocate that feeling. And if you’re not going to be able to move on, it’s best to let them go so that you can focus on your own life/relationship.
3. Accept That There Will Always Be Someone Else For You (If You Want Them)
This may seem a little selfish, but remember–there are tons of people out there! If your love isn’t reciprocated, don’t feel guilty about taking another chance on love. If your loved one doesn’t reciprocate, don’t waste your time wishing they would change.
It’s sad that we often hold on to pain rather than healing. But the moment in our lives when someone let us go is the moment when it’s most important to grieve what was lost.
As strange as it may sound, taking the time to mourn the loss of your loved one will actually help you move on and find love with someone else who will love you in return.
5. Consider A Different Part Of Your Life That Needs Some Fixing
This could be your job or way of life (or all three). If you’re in a toxic relationship, it can also be the way that you treat yourself.
Whatever it is, once you figure out what’s standing between you and love–you’ll be able to take steps toward making the changes that will bring love into your life.
6. Consider The Possibility That This Is A Blessing In Disguise
This may seem like an odd thing to say when talking about being rejected by someone you love, but just because someone doesn’t return your feelings doesn’t mean that they didn’t come into your life for a reason.
Everyone has something to offer us…even if it’s not on the level of romantic love. And some people come into our lives simply because we need them to teach us something.
It’s important to remember that rejection is simply a part of life.
7. Respect Yourself
You’ve spent enough time in the trash (or at least pretend to have). It’s time for you to start from scratch and build something new–something better than what was there before.
Take care of yourself and recognize that your value as a human being can only be increased with time and effort.
8. Decide If You’re Going To Overcome This Feeling…Or Let It Overcome You
You can’t force anyone to love you. And even though you may not be able to control what another person does and how they feel, you do have the power to decide how this experience will affect your life.
Suppose you decide that this feeling isn’t going to crush you and that the only thing standing between you and happiness is the amount of effort you’re willing to put into changing your life. In that case, there’s a good chance that this experience will actually make you stronger…and more capable of experiencing real love with someone else who can give it back.
9. Remember That There Are Many Ways To Feel Loved
Most of us think that the only way to be loved is with romantic love–and while this may be true, it’s equally true that we can feel loved in other ways. We can feel loved.
We can be loved when we help others. We can be loved in the way mentors and friends love us–by constantly reminding us of our value as human beings, giving us helpful advice, and caring for our needs. We often confuse these forms of love with romantic love…but they’re not the same, and they don’t have to compete with each other.
10. Let Go Of The Words (And Fear) “Forever.”
For a long time, our society has been anchored in the idea that romantic love is the pinnacle of human bonding and connection. And as such, we’ve developed an unhealthy obsession with finding our own versions of this experience.
We’ve made it into something unattainable–something that we should be ashamed for not achieving…or for being terrified of! But the truth is: They don’t love you. They can’t love you back. And if they do, it’s not forever. It’s just for now…until their feelings change.
Can You Ever Stop Loving Someone You Truly Love?
It’s possible that you may never be able to stop loving someone whom you truly love and hope to marry one day. But it’s not likely, and we don’t have to feel guilty about it.
It’s also possible that you may find someone who will love you back (and vice versa). But if this doesn’t happen in the way that you want it…it doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you.
It just means that no one out there loves us in the way we want, at the time we want, in the way we need to be happy.
The Bottom Line
Finding love or stopping loving someone is not about being good or bad at relationships. It’s about being human. It’s about learning how to love without losing yourself in the process. And as with most valuable lessons in life, it’s easier learned through experience and trial and error…and through spending time with others who give us a safe space to grow.
It may be difficult to find a way to let go of your feelings for a person you love…or even just the word “love.” But I promise you: no one will ever love you the way you need. And if they do…it’s not going to be forever.
So whether you’re still in love with someone who doesn’t return your feelings…or you’ve been rejected by someone whom you once loved, I encourage you to recognize that everyone’s life is different and everyone has a different path to happiness.