Signs of unrequited love (and how to deal with the pain)

Unrequited love refers to a love that is one-sided and not returned. It is the experience of loving someone without them loving you back.

Simply put, it’s Hell.

The problem comes from trying to figuring out the other person’s true feelings. You may think it’s easy to figure this out, but it isn’t always clear.

In this article, we’ll help you figure out what to look for and how to address the situation.

Types of unrequited love

There are two main types of unrequited love.

  1. The first kind of unrequited love happens when you have started a relationship with someone, but their interest in you wanes over time.
  2. The second kind of unrequited love occurs when your interest in someone isn’t returned from the outset. You may be confused about the other person’s true feelings or it may already be apparent that this other person simply isn’t interested in you.

Whichever type of unrequited love you are experiencing, the pain can be almost unbearable.

Let’s go over the ten key signs to look out for to see if you really are experiencing unrequited love. We’ll then explain how to deal with unrequited love.

Signs of unrequited love

It’s critical to know the signs of unrequited love so that you can identify the problem and quickly move on. Here are 14 signs to look out for.

1. You’re getting nothing when you give everything

Are you crafting grand gestures for your loved one, but being given the cold shoulder? This could be a key sign that your romantic interest is not interested in you

2. You’re always finding ways to spend time around them

When people are in love, they want to spend time together. If you find that you’re engineering ways to keep bumping into someone, but they aren’t returning the favor, it might be unrequited love. 

3. You get jealous when they spend time with others

Did you get steaming mad when the girl you like told you about taking a boat ride with a new man? 

That’s a key sign you’re jealous — jealous of that romantic relationship you don’t have. 

Also, take the hint. She’s probably not interested in you as a romantic partner. 

4. You constantly feel underappreciated

Do you keep feeling that the object of your affections is “just using you” or “not seeing how great you are?” 

Take a step back. It’s probably unrequited love. If you feel so underappreciated, it’s best to move on from this relationship.

5. You think they’re “the one that got away.” 

This is a bit of fantasy right here. They didn’t “get away,” because they weren’t “in play” in the first place. 

6. They can do nothing wrong

You’re putting them on a pedestal — making them into a fantasy, rather than a real person. 

7. You can’t exist without them loving you

Simply the thought of letting go fills you with existential dread. 

If you can’t move on, even though you know (in your gut) that this relationship isn’t going to happen, then you’re stuck in a terrible form of unrequited love. Keep reading to find ways to ease the heartache. 

8. Thinking of them fills you with anxiety

“Does he like me?” “Why is he ignoring me?” “What if he rejects me?” If every thought of your crush sends you reeling with anxiety, instead of happiness; odds are that your crush isn’t returning your affections, meaning it’s unrequited love. 

9. There’s no physical contact. 

Put a hand on their shoulder, they shimmy away. Go in for a hug, get a handshake. Little to no physical contact is a key indicator that the relationship is suffering from unrequited love. 

10. They avoid spending time with you. 

If every time you ask her on a date, her response is “I’m busy,” you need to take the hint. She’s just not that into you. 

What about waning relationships? 

The first ten signs were primarily about love not being returned at the outset. For relationships that started strong, but began to wane, we have four more key signs to watch out for. 

1. The passion is fading

Has the romance fizzled? Have you tried to spice up your romantic life only to be rebuffed time and time again? This is a classic example of unrequited love. 

2. Your partner keeps secrets

Maybe your wife keeps her phone tucked away from you now. Maybe your husband is staying mum about his work. Whenever communication grinds to a standstill and your partner throws up barriers, you should be alarmed. 

3. You’re being lied to

This is a major red flag. If your partner starts lying to you, you need to find out why. 

4. You feel alone

This is the worst. What was once a budding romance has faded, and now you feel more isolated than ever. If your partner has made you feel alone, this means that they aren’t matching the love you’re putting out, making it an unrequited love. 

It’s important to distinguish between unrequited love and emotionally unavailable men.

I know this because I have been emotionally unavailable for most of my adult life.

Then I came across a new theory in psychology and it perfectly explained why it’s been so difficult for me to open up in relationships.

The concept is known as the “hero instinct”. According to relationship expert James Bauer, men are biologically wired to want to feel like a hero.

And the kicker?

Women can learn how to make a man feel this way.

It sounds crazy, but for me it perfectly explains what has been going in my relationships.

It hasn’t been unrequited love. I just needed to feel like a hero.

You can learn more in my article about being emotionally unavailable. Or go direct to the source with the free video training on the hero instinct by James Bauer.

Is your “love” even realistic?

Society conditions us to try and find ourselves in our relationships with others.

Think about your upbringing. So many of our cultural myths focus on stories of finding the “perfect relationship” or the “perfect love”.

Yet I think this idealized notion of “romantic love” is both rare and unrealistic. 

In fact, the concept of romantic love is relatively new to modern-day society.

Before this, people had committed relationships of course, but more so for practical reasons. They didn’t expect to become blissfully happy for doing so. They entered into their partnerships for the sake of survival and having kids.

A partnership that brings feelings of romantic love is certainly possible. 

But we shouldn’t kid ourselves into thinking that romantic love is the norm. It’s more likely that only a small percentage of romantic partnerships will be successful by its idealized standards.

A better approach is to let go of the myth of romantic love and instead focus on the relationship we have with ourselves. It’s the one relationship that will be with us our whole lives. 

If you want to learn how to love yourself for who you really are, check out our new masterclass by Rudá Iandê.

Rudá is a world-renowned shaman. He has supported thousands of people for over 25 years to break through social programming so they can rebuild the relationships they have with themselves.

I recorded a free masterclass on love and intimacy with Rudá Iandê so that he could share his wisdom with the Ideapod community.

In the masterclass, Rudá explains that the most important relationship you can develop is the one you have with yourself:

“If you do not respect your whole, you cannot expect to be respected as well. Don’t let your partner love a lie, an expectation. Trust yourself. Bet on yourself. If you do this, you will be opening yourself to be really loved. It’s the only way to find real, solid love in your life.”

If these words resonate with you, I encourage you to check out this excellent masterclass.

Here’s a link to it again.

How to get over unrequited love

Now that you’ve identified the key signs of unrequited love, it’s important to take steps in dealing with the pain.

Even if you still want a relationship with the person who doesn’t love you back, it’s essential to move through these steps.

These steps in dealing with unrequited love will help you to love yourself more deeply and build your confidence.

This makes you more attractive to others. The outcome will be that you’ll more likely meet someone who is a better fit for you, and in the process, you may even find that the person who didn’t give you the time of day may start to take more notice in you.

1. Understand why it hurts so badly

It’s important to understand why unrequited love hurts so badly.

We grow up with stories embedded in our minds about romantic love. Often, we don’t realize that the dreams of romantic love become imprinted in our minds, influencing the decisions we make.

Even when we aren’t aware of the power of the myth of romantic love, it’s still having a big impact.

This is why unrequited love hurts so badly. It’s not just the pain of someone not loving you back. Your deeper dreams of love are being shattered by unrequited love.

This is deeply painful. It’s normal that you are struggling with this situation.

2. Get angry

Here’s one piece of counter-intuitive advice if the person you love doesn’t love you back: get angry about it.

Let me explain why getting angry can actually be incredibly powerful for those with an unrequited love.

Do you feel guilty for being angry? Do you try to repress your anger so it goes away?

If you’re like most people, then you probably do.

And it’s understandable. We’ve been conditioned to hide our anger for our entire lives. In fact, the whole personal development industry is built around not being angry and instead to always “think positively”.

Yet I think this way of approaching anger is dead wrong.

Being angry when love goes wrong can actually be a powerful force for good in your life — as long as you harness it properly.

To learn how to do this watch our free masterclass on turning anger into your ally.

Hosted by world-renowned shaman Rudá Iandê, you’ll learn how to build a powerful relationship with your inner beast.

The result:

Your natural feelings of anger will become a powerful force that enhances your personal power, rather than making you feel weak in life.

Check out the free masterclass here.

Rudá’s breakthrough teachings will help you identify what you should be angry about in your own life and how to make this anger a productive force for good. 

Being angry isn’t about blaming others or becoming a victim. It’s about using the energy of anger to build constructive solutions to your problems and making positive changes to your own life.

Here’s a link to the masterclass again. It’s 100% free and there are no strings attached.

3. Deal with the loss of a friendship

You may be in a relationship with this person. They may be a friend.

Either way, you need to deal with the loss of a friendship.

The brutal truth is that this person is drifting away from you. They may even be sensing how needy you are feeling, which in turn is driving them further away.

I have had to deal with the loss of a number of very close friends in recent years. Here are the key steps I have taken:

  • Embrace the good memories you have.
  • Don’t try to replace them with someone else.
  • Wish them well in life (this one is hard but trust me it will be worthwhile if you can do it).
  • Don’t wait for them to realize they’ve made a mistake (just as hard—but just as worthwhile).
  • Grieve the loss.

4. Accept the current situation

Research shows that we feel an emotional wound in the same way as a physical injury. Emotional pain activates the same part of your brain as physical pain.

So when you’re physically injured, what’s the first thing you do?

You acknowledge it and take care of yourself. You’re kind to yourself and you nurture your injured wounds.

However, this doesn’t mean you should just lay in bed all day.

It’s important to go about your life as you normally would, but understand that you’re not going to be at peak performance right away.

By taking action and gradually improving step-by-step, you’ll eventually get back to the way you were.

“Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” – J.K Rowland

5. Know that you’re not alone

Research indicates that more than half of Americans have experienced unrequited love at least once in their lives. So it’s a common occurrence that we all experience at some point.

Right now, there’s two things making you feel hurt:

  1. You feel sad and heartbroken.
  2. You feel ashamed, like there’s something wrong with you because the feelings aren’t returned. Self-doubt creeps in.

But what you need to realize is this:

It happens to everybody! Even those people you might consider “perfect”.

Why?

Because not everyone is looking for a relationship. People are at different stages in their life.

Or perhaps you’re just not the right person for them.

Whatever it is, it’s very unlikely that “you weren’t good enough”. Instead, they were just looking for something else.

Once you understand that, you’ll be in a much better place emotionally.

“Everyone at some point in life have faced rejection and failure, it is part of the process to self-realisation.” – Lailah Gifty Akita

6. Talk it out with someone who sees it from your perspective

This isn’t the time for someone to tell you how stupid or naive you were for liking this person.

Right now though, you need someone on your side who will listen to your thoughts and feelings and affirm the positive traits you have.

If you’re feeling alone as though you don’t have someone to talk with, there’s a simple trick…

Talk to yourself. Become your own best friend.

You can do this with journaling.

I created a short video about self-love where I explain a simple approach to journaling. Check out the video below, and when I get to step five see if you can apply it to your feelings of unrequited love. If you can’t watch the video right now, check out the article here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsjPom8egR0

7. Is this a pattern?

According to psychologist Berit Brogaard, crushes become more “valuable” when they’re unattainable and some people can get lost in this pattern over and over again.

To find out if this is a common occurrence in your life, ask yourself if you’ve ever fallen in love with someone who rejected you before.

You may be subconsciously attracted to rejection, and therefore seek people who are unattainable.

This only serves to reinforce the feeling that nobody wants to be with you.

Ask yourself, are you only in love because of the idea of it? Because if you don’t truly love this person, then it is easier to move on.

But as Dr. Bates-Duford suggests, if you are the anxious in your relationships, then perhaps it’s better to work on your issues before you start dating.

If you feel that this might be a pattern, the most important first step is to become aware of it.

Once you’re able to acknowledge it, you’ll understand why you’re attracted to certain people, and you can start focusing on dating those who are more suitable and won’t cause you a hurtful rejection.

8. Are you happy that you loved this person?

Right now, you probably wish you never loved this person. That’s a natural reaction. The pain is still so fresh.

But in due time, once you’re over it, you realize how powerful and beautiful love is.

Your capacity to love this person is a reflection of you. You have managed to see the best in someone.

This is beautiful. It’s also something you’ll be able to do again, after you’ve managed to get over the heartbreak of unreciprocated love.

9. Give up on the idea of a perfect relationship

This one is going to be the hardest to accept, but it’s crucial that you do.

The reality is that there is no such thing as a perfect relationship.

When couples post their pictures on Instagram, they mostly post about the best things in their lives. They don’t post about the challenge they are going through.

But every relationship has challenges. No relationship is perfect. This realization will help you get on with your life.

10. Create distance between you and them

This will be an incredibly difficult step to take. But it’s very important.

You need to create some distance between you and them.

This distance will give you the space to stop thinking so much about this other person. It will be hard initially. You will want to get in contact with this person, even if only to limit the pain.

But you must give yourself the chance to create some space and move on.

11. Were they really perfect?

I can bet my bottom dollar that you’re telling yourself this:

“I’ll never find someone as perfect”.

The truth is, they weren’t perfect. Nobody is. That’s just the way you’ve built them up in your mind.

When we fall in love, we can’t find anything wrong with that person. All we see is their good sign. It’s like our brain is incapable of recognizing the bad things about them.

If you can’t stop thinking about how great they were, it might be time to write a list of things you didn’t like about them.

What you’ll likely realize is that they weren’t that good after all, and getting rejected may not be the tragedy you think it is.

12. Recognize the mind games

One of the hardest parts of getting over love that is not returned has to do with the mind games you will experience. Your brain is going to play some nasty games with you. It’s going to feel like torture.

You are going to question everything you think you know about yourself: you’ll feel like you aren’t good enough. You’ll feel like you aren’t worthy. You’ll feel like you’ve failed in some way.

The work you do to get over those mind games are the most challenging and important. Once you are able to wrap your mind around all the things you might be telling yourself, you’ll be able to get on with life in a more meaningful way.

Right now, you are probably placing a lot of your value in the hands of someone who has just rejected you, but in time you’ll see that it was just part of the recovery process.

13. What is the reason you wanted a romantic relationship in the first place?

Are you scared of being alone? Do you undervalue yourself?

One of the best ways to get over unrequited love is understanding your reason for wanting a relationship.

Often times, we want to be in a relationship because we don’t value ourselves. Therefore, we look for a relationship because we don’t want to be alone and we’re looking for validation. Or we don’t want to deal with our own issues, so we distract ourselves by having someone else.

We created a free masterclass with the shaman Rudá Iandê on love and intimacy. It goes for about 60 minutes and plays in your local timezone. The masterclass helps you to identify the real reason you want a relationship in the first place. Thousands have taken the masterclass and let us know that it’s changed their lives. Check it out here.

14. Appreciate yourself

Now is the perfect time to get to know yourself again.

I’m sure you’re experiencing self-doubt and you’re questioning your self-worth. That’s what rejection does.

You might think that this is lame but what will really help you is sitting down with yourself and writing down on a piece of paper your greatest strengths.

Understanding what your strengths are will make you believe in yourself and everything you have to offer.

Anyone that gets a chance to date you is lucky.

You also might want to write a list of things you’re grateful for, especially if you’re feeling down.

15. Consume to heal

A lot of people will shut the world out when love is unrequited, but if you really want to do some soul healing, spend some time with the people who do love and appreciate you and show you that love.

Surround yourself with people’s good vibes, listen to music that makes you happy, read a powerful story, write, draw, paint, or share your thoughts with the world on your blog.

But take time to bring good things in your life in addition to whatever good vibes you put out. When you give and take like that, it helps you to see that you have value to add to the world and you can let go of the notion that all of your worthy was tied up in a potential relationship.

16. Get out of your comfort zone

Once you feel like you’ve processed the pain of rejection and you’re ready to move on, it’s time to try some new things.

After all, it’s hard to grow when you stay in your comfort zone.

Lessons to learn from unrequited love

We all can learn from our life experiences, positive or negative. Here are some great lessons that you can take from this negative experience, to ensure your next dates are more successful. 

1. Be yourself

If someone isn’t returning your feelings, you might feel that you need to change who you are to attract them. This is a bad idea. You want a person to be attracted to the real you, not the fake you.

Otherwise, you’ll be forced to live a lie by pretending to be someone you’re not. 

If someone doesn’t like you for who you are, move on. I guarantee that someone will love you without demanding you change.

2. Communicate your feelings

Unrequited love often develops because one person lacks the confidence to communicate their romantic feelings and intentions. This can lead to long-term anxiety and agony. 

To head this off, be honest from the beginning. It will save everyone a tremendous amount of heartache along the way.

3. You can’t force love

There’s no magic love potion. People have (and deserve) freewill.

So it’s important to accept that you can’t (and shouldn’t) force someone to love you. 

Romantic partners aren’t pets; they’re people with just as valid wants and needs as you.

3. Know when to move on

I went through my own period of crushing on someone who didn’t return my feelings.

Instead of cutting bait and running, I just allowed myself to wallow in self-pity, hoping things would change.  It was miserable. I was miserable. When I finally moved on, I felt free. It was liberating. 

Now, I know that when someone isn’t interested, I need to move on. 

How to move on from unrequited love

The steps above help you to deal with the experience of unrequited love. As you move through these steps, you’ll start to feel an urge to move on.

For a number of years, I’ve been studying the work of the shaman Rudá Iandê. He has much insight to share about relationships and life in general.

He taught me that we often try to find our sense of fulfillment from relationships, as opposed to finding fulfillment deeply within ourselves.

It’s the same with love. When you’re experiencing unrequited love, at a deeper level, you are trying to experience the emotion of love with someone else.

But you have the capacity to generate these same emotions deeply within yourself.

When you start to love yourself deeply, these emotions emerge spontaneously. Importantly, you aren’t reliant on the preferences of someone else to experience love.

I asked Rudá Iandê to share his key teachings on love and intimacy in our free masterclass. You can access the masterclass here. I highly recommend the masterclass, especially if you’re experiencing unrequited love.

Why do we experience unrequited love? 

It’s helpful to know why we fall into unrequited love so that we can avoid this in the future. Here are three reasons why we fall into unrequited love. 

1. You lack confidence

Oftentimes, unconfident people can’t show real romantic interest in a potential partner (i.e. flirting), so they settle for acting “friendly” in hopes that the friendship will magically become romantic. 

This won’t happen. In fact, it’s self-sabotaging. 

Think about it. People often take us at face value. If we show friendly interest, potential partners will think of us as friendly people. If we show romantic interest, they’ll think we want to date. 

2. You just want to fall in love

You want the experience of “love,” not the relationship that comes with it. If you’re looking for “love” in an attempt to fill a void in your life, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and failure. 

3. You’re afraid of rejection

Rejection is terrifying. I get that. But, if you’re so scared of rejection that you never express your feelings, you’ll never actually find out if your crush has feelings for you or not. This puts you in that terrible ground of uncertainty that we call unrequited love. 

Can unrequited love ever become requited?

Unrequited love can certainly become “requited love.” People fall in and out of love. It’s possible that the object of your affection might not even know that you’re interested in them in a romantic way. 

It’s crazy, but one of the biggest factors in determining if we are attracted to someone is learning that they are attracted to us. It’s called reciprocal liking!

Having said that, it’s important to move through the 15 steps above and learn to truly love yourself first. The experience of unrequited and unreciprocated love is an opportunity to change something deep within yourself.

When you can let go of your attachment to this other person, you’ll start to live a more fulfilled life. You’ll be happier, more self-reliant, and will just enjoy life more. 

When you’re happier and more fulfilled, you’ll become more attracted.

Treasure these experiences of growth. Treasure learning to love yourself.

And if your unrequited love ends up coming around, you may have realized that you didn’t need that relationship in the first place. 

What does love feel like?

Love is a unique feeling that can’t be fully explained. It’s can be a roller coaster of emotions. It can be thrilling. Love can also be a deep feeling of security and contentment.

How you experience love is unique to you. It will be based on your values and emotional needs.

But there is one key idea I want to leave with you, especially considering the fact that you’re reading this article after going through the steps to take when going through unrequited love.It’s the idea that love should is based on actions, not just feelings.

What?I know, it sounds radical, but hear me out: your feelings can easily play tricks on you. Actions are concrete. You may believe you deeply love someone. But if your actions based on love aren’t being reciprocated by the other person, is this really love?

When I was looking to heal from unrequited love, I turned to contemporary shaman Rudá Iandê, whose free masterclass on love and intimacy works to help you attract genuine and meaningful relationships. 

It’s a 66-minute course, where Rudá Iandê dives into how love is expressed through actions, how we must first start by loving ourselves, and choosing our actions based on love. 

Are your actions toward yourself based on love? 

These deeper reflections and ways of relating to love will help you to deal with the pain of unreciprocated love. They will also help you to create a foundation of fulfillment deep within.

And once you’ve developed that deep fulfillment, you can then implement a brand new approach to finding true love, taught by Rudá Iandê himself. 

If you’re struggling to find the answers to love’s mysteries, I suggest checking out our free masterclass on love and intimacy. 

 

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Justin Brown

Justin Brown

I'm Justin Brown, the founder of Ideapod. I've overseen the evolution of Ideapod from a social network for ideas into a publishing and education platform with millions of monthly readers and multiple products helping people to think critically, see issues clearly and engage with the world responsibly.

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