Hooked on a feelin’: With Love by Simran Mangharam
There is a difference between the heartbreak experienced at the end of a committed relationship and one from unrequited love. Though the initial emotional shock of being rejected is powerful in both cases, some people take much longer to recover from the heartbreak when the feelings were one-sided. The questions around what went wrong and why often go unanswered. One of my clients was so keen to know why her feelings and attraction were not reciprocated by this man she was in love with, that she wanted me to call him. Her intellectual argument was that my intervention would provide her with feedback so that she doesn’t make the same mistake again. I gracefully declined.
With no clear insight into why your feelings were not reciprocated, the only tangible reasons seem to stem from blaming yourself. “I should not have pushed to meet that often”. “Perhaps I intimidated him”. “Maybe she thinks I am desperate”. The hurt and pain is quickly followed by self-flagellation. It’s a lot for anyone to deal with. The fact that matters of the heart are to do with feelings and emotions, which can be irrational, rarely crosses our mind. How many of us are great at decoding why we feel what we feel? Or why our emotional reactions sometimes surprise us. In a world where search engines provide you information at your fingertips in seconds, the discomfort of the unknown is so pervasive that it has almost become an obsession.
If we spend time looking back at our own lives, I can guarantee that most of us would have not reciprocated someone’s romantic feelings or crushes on us at some point. In our heads, we would have left it at “I just don’t feel the same way” or may go further to rationalise that “I am not attracted to him/her”. To be honest, it does not go beyond that for someone who is not reciprocating your feelings either. Not because they are flippant and don’t respect your feelings. Rather, it is really the truth. But because it’s so simple and your feelings so powerful, this answer does not satisfy you.
Another common occurrence of unrequited love is that we actually have feelings for the person “we think” that individual is. My friend Seema was crazy about this man she met at a conference. They had long chats on the phone, went out on a few dates and she fell in love with him. He did not feel the same way. It took her a long time to get over this. A few years later she happened to work with him on a project, only to realise he was a completely different person than she had made him out to be. She admitted that perhaps she was in love with the image she had created of him – which was so different from who he really was.
Finally, there are those who never let the other person know that they are in love with them. Most often it’s when you develop feelings for a friend. You worry that if you share your feelings, you might end up losing the friendship as well. But I urge you to rethink this. The only person who is suffering in this approach is you. Isn’t it better to tell them? And if the feeling is not reciprocated at least you can move on and make space for someone else in your life.
The emotional turmoil of unrequited love is real, but we can put it behind us fairly quickly. We prolong the pain by indulging in self-blame or continuing to pine for that person. This can become a habit and I suggest you don’t get into that trap.