Your Unrequited Love Can Be A Growth Opportunity. Here’s What to Do.

Seven years ago, I met the love of my life.

At least, back then, I believed he was the one who’d be perfect for me.

I had just come back to Vienna after spending two semesters in Paris. Meeting my old friends, enjoying the Viennese summer, and relishing the city with all its beautiful vibes gave me the best feeling, and I was willing to meet someone new.

One evening, I was meeting friends at a bar. We were sitting outside, watching a soccer game and drinking beer. Then a friend of one of my fellow students came by and joined our group. I hadn’t met him before. He sat next to me, and we had a great evening talking, drinking, and getting to know each other.

The night ended weirdly. After hitting several bars, we started making out and decided to leave our friends to have some alone time. We walked through a nightly park and sat down on a bench when he suddenly told me he had a girlfriend. That was the moment I knew we wouldn’t see each other again.

In the beginning, I told myself to forget him and move on. But the following months weren’t easy. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t feel the same powerful connection we had. I didn’t hear from him, and as he was in a relationship, it felt wrong to write him.

So I waited.

I knew his relationship wasn’t going well. So I hoped he would finally write me to tell me he was single again and that he wanted to know me better.

At the same time, I felt stupid because I wished for a perfect future with a man I didn’t even know properly.

And that’s the thing about unrequited love: mostly, it appears when we meet someone we don’t know. We idealize a future with a person whose traits we exaggerate or make up in our minds. And finally, the feeling of wanting the other person gets so intense that we cannot think of anything else.

The School of Life describes the reason for unrequited love as follows:

By preventing us from properly growing close to them, the beloved also prevents us from tiring of them in the cathartic and liberating manner that is the gift of requited love. It isn’t their charms that are keeping us magnetized; it is our lack of knowledge of their flaws.

Sometimes we didn’t have the chance to get to know the other person genuinely. This makes it difficult for us to move on as we are convinced that the person of desire is flawless.

Fantasizing about the perfect shared future is normal, and you don’t have to feel bad just because you long for a loving relationship with a person you find highly attractive and exciting. But don’t torture yourself by waiting for someone to love you back. Remember the following three points to get back the power over your love life!

Your view on the person you admire isn’t realistic.

When I watched this video by The School of Life, the following sentence caught my attention:

“Passion can never withstand too much exposure to the full reality of another person.”

If we truly knew the other person, it would be easier to move on.

When I think back at my past relationships, I find truth in this assumption. Of course, it was tough to process the break-up with my boyfriend after five good years, but I knew it was for the better in the end.

He’s a person I genuinely know. I learned about his talents, fears, values, and flaws. I know what he looks like when he is angry, tired, or upset. I can hear how he feels when we talk over the phone.

In a nutshell: I truly know who he is. And I experienced how it is to be with him, live with him and sleep with him.

It doesn’t make the break-up less painful, but it is easier for me to move on, as I have a more realistic view of the situation. The way he treated me the last months of our relationship taught me that he isn’t the perfect fit for me. It was a hard and long learning process, but I got to know his bad side as well.

When I think back to unrequited love situations, it was much harder to free myself from harmful thoughts and self-doubts. The feeling of being insufficient for a person I admire drove me crazy in many phases of my life.

The good thing is: if we know why we feel this way about someone, we can remind ourselves to concentrate on what didn’t go well. The fact that the other person may act avoidant, unattainable, or ignorant towards us shows us that he/she isn’t the perfect fit for us.

How to get over your unrequited love:

Make a list of everything you do not admire about this person. For example:

  • He needs days or weeks to write me back. He only contacts me regularly when he needs something from me.

  • I didn’t feel loved or appreciated in his environment.

  • He mansplained and treated me like a child sometimes.

  • He has a strange relationship with his family.

  • I couldn’t open up in his presence. I was afraid he would judge me.

I’m convinced that you will find bad traits and characteristics about the person you admire so much- whatever situation you are in.

Listen to your intuition! When I met someone a few years ago, my intuition told me right from the beginning that something was toxic about our connection. I didn’t listen to my gut feeling but rushed into an affair with him.

In the aftermath, I know that I can trust myself when it comes to men I do not feel safe or appreciated with. You will experience these feelings right from the beginning. Please don’t ignore them!

Unrequited love shows us our values and desires.

Often, we daydream about the person we desire.

We imagine how it would be like to spend the future together, to have a child, travel, or get married. We spoil ourselves with beautiful scenes and fantasies. These daydreams aren’t necessarily bad. They allow us to escape reality which can often be tedious or painful.

As mentioned above, our view on the person we admire isn’t realistic. Still, our imagination allows us to learn about our desires and wishes for the future.

Do you often daydream about sex with him? This may show you that physical touch is crucial to the next relationship you want.

Do you imagine a life with him, three children, and a family business? Maybe a big family and a common business are exactly what you want to aim for in the future.

Do you think a lot about traveling with him? You’ll have the chance to get to know many more men who’d love to travel and be in a relationship with you.

I know it can be hard to imagine a life without the man you desire, but try to concentrate on what your daydreams, feelings, and thoughts tell you about yourself. In this way, you’ll more likely choose a man who meets your expectations!

Write down your values and desires.

  • I want my next boyfriend to be as gentle, intelligent, and considerate as him.

  • I dream of buying a house at the sea one day. It’d be great if my next partner shared this wish with me.

  • Receiving gifts from my partner is extremely important to me. I want to meet someone thoughtful and generous.

In the end, our next partner probably won’t meet all of our expectations because he’s only human. But by analyzing our wishes and thoughts, we’ll find out what we truly want from a romantic partner, and we won’t settle for someone who has none of these crucial characteristics.

Shift your admiration to yourself.

In our imagination, the person we admire often has the perfect traits.

As mentioned above, no one is perfect. We are all human beings, and the man you love so much isn’t better, worthier, or more intelligent than you.

In the aftermath, I know that focusing on ourselves is always the best remedy against heartbreak. So what would happen if we shifted our admiration to ourselves?

What if we were as enthusiastic about our own talents, traits, and characteristics?

The result would be that we’d finally see that we are as worthy as the other person. We’d stop idealizing someone we do not know properly.

By focusing on ourselves, we can get back the freedom over our love life.

Here’s what to do:

  • Write down what you have to offer. I’m sure it’ll be a lot!

  • Be proud of the person you are and shift the negative power of unrequited love to something that makes you grow as a person.

  • Think back to all the compliments in your life that made you feel worthy and loved. Write them down and allow yourself to feel the admiration towards yourself.

These exercises aren’t about exaggerated self-love or narcissism. We are often too hard on ourselves, and we deserve it to treat ourselves as good as we treat the people we love.

Final thoughts

During the past seven years, I ran into the former “love of my life” twice. The first time he was alone, and we were having a pleasant conversation. Back then, I was in a relationship, and he was newly separated. The admiration for him was gone, even though I enjoyed talking with him.

The second time, I met him on Vienna’s streets, with his dog and his pregnant girlfriend. The magic was gone entirely, and I didn’t think about him since then.

Today I know my imagination of the perfect man was unrealistic. I projected my wishes and desires on him. My admiration had nothing to do with him as a human being.

Unrequited love can feel horrible and all-consuming. But before you fall into old patterns, remember to:

  • Get a more realistic view of the person you love

  • Learn about your values and desires

  • Shift your admiration to yourself and your life

You are worth it!

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