Unrequited Love: the Signs, the Causes, the Next Steps

Love is a complex feeling. It can make us fly and feel the happiest we’ve ever been, but it can also ruin our spirits, especially when our feelings are not returned. Today we want to talk about just that – unrequited love and how to cope with it.

What is the meaning of unrequited love

You can have your own definition of unrequited love if you went through it, but generally, it is the feeling of attraction to and longing for someone who doesn’t feel that way about you. Essentially, when you love a person, but they don’t love you back.
What separates unrequited love from just love is that the person having the feelings is hurt. They usually suffer from heartbreak and can even spiral into depression because their feelings are one-sided.

Signs of unrequited love

A lot of people go through unrequited love at a certain stage of their lives. Some get involved deeply and suffer a lot, others manage to get out of the situation relatively unhurt. Knowing and understanding the signs of unrequited love will help you spot it in the early stages and try to get out of the situation before it sucks you in, making you suffer for years (yep, what happened to some of us at Flure, not the best feeling, not gonna lie!).
Take the signs below with a grain of salt because every situation is unique, but pay attention if you notice them.

You are the only one trying to communicate and hang out

Just like with friendships, if your love interest is only reacting to your incoming messages, calls, and invites to hang out, but never suggests anything themselves – this can be a sign of them not wanting you romantically. We probably don’t need to explain that, but in healthy relationships (whether it’s a committed partnership or you’re just starting to go out) both people are interested in talking, sharing news, and making plans.
Pro tip: Don’t get mad at someone who is like that towards you. It is frustrating, sure, but the person might be feeling guilt for not having the same feelings towards you as you have towards them. And because they’re afraid to hurt you even more, they’d rather wait you out and hope you move on. Or, they just don’t like you like that and are a bit annoyed with your constant attention. Tough to hear, but it is what it is. We can’t really be mad at someone for not loving us, right?

They’re not interested in knowing you

Even if the person is asking you out, talks to you, and initiates communication, you might still be in the unrequited love scenario. Think about the topics of your recent conversations. Have you been discussing anything of true meaning? Does the other person ask anything about you? Are they curious to really know you? If the answer to all these questions is No, then you’re probably dealing with someone who’s not that into you (if they’re into you at all, sorry).

They can do no wrong in your eyes

It’s kind of normal to put your love interest on a pedestal, especially in the first couple of weeks when you’re only getting to know them. With unrequited love, however, there is this unhealthy dynamic where the person in love idolizes the other person, and gladly ignores or excuses their faults and bad character traits. This can go on for months and years because you don’t really have full access to your love, as you’re not in a relationship. This means that you get to watch them from afar and remain in the dark about all their flaws.

You want to touch them all the time

Wanting to touch, hug, and kiss someone you fancy is perfectly natural. If you find yourself trying to do that and the other person is not really happy about it (i.e., pulling away, making faces, and resisting with their words) – that’s a sign of unrequited love.

Examples of unrequited love

Let’s look at the main examples of unrequited love out there:
  • Having a crush on someone who is in a relationship with someone else.
  • Falling for a friend that you know doesn’t love you like that.
  • Falling in love with someone you hooked up with who only sees you as a casual sex date.
  • Two people who are in a committed relationship with someone else but fall in love – is a type of unrequited love too. Technically, they love each other, so their feelings are two-sided. Yet, they can’t be together because they’re in a marriage or a relationship with other people.
Unrequited love is a common topic in pop culture and movies. If you’d like to understand this concept more, go ahead and read the “Romeo and Juliet” by Shakespeare or watch the “500 Days of Summer” film.
Can unrequited love become requited? Absolutely! The story of Ross from “Friends” is a prime example that you can turn things around and end up with your own version of Rachel and live happily ever after.

What causes unrequited love

There are so many things that can trigger unrequited love! Here are some of them:
  • Mixed signals from the other person
  • Timing: the other person might be not ready for love
  • Incompatibility of values or lifestyles
  • Low self-esteem and insecurities
  • Attraction imbalance
  • Fear of rejection that makes the person keep their feelings secret

Is unrequited love really love?

It’s a tricky question because defining love is really hard, whether mutual or not.
We’d say it is really love, even when the person doesn’t love you back. Surely, you can’t have the commitment and partnership that are created when both people are in love. However, your feelings are not less real, just because they’re one-sided. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide. If you want to see it as love, and it would help you to get through it – more power to you. If not, also good. Love is whatever you want it to be (within common sense, surely).

How long does unrequited love last?

Unrequited love can last from a few weeks to months, to years. For Severus Snape, his love for Lily died with him. Others are luckier and can get over it much faster. How long it lasts for you will depend on your proximity to the love interest (out of sight, out of mind), your personality type, and the support group available to you.

How to deal with and move on from unrequited love

Loving someone who doesn’t love you is hard. Not only do you suffer from heartache, but you’re also likely to experience low self-esteem and feel isolated and stressed. If you’re wondering how to get over unrequited love, there are a few things you can do.
First of all, as tough and hard as it may be, you need to understand that there’s no running away from the pain and the situation overall. You need to live through the feelings of failure and heartache. This will be similar to experiencing a breakup or grieving when you are saying goodbye to the possibility of love and a relationship.
It’s a lot to handle, but you absolutely must do it to get over your feelings and let go. The healing journey always starts with acceptance. The next steps for you to get over someone can look like this:
  1. Stay busy. Don’t exhaust yourself, but try to keep your schedule busy, so you can have your mind on other things than this person you love. Pick up sports, hang out with friends, or sign up for a class. Starting a new side hustle is a great idea too. You’ll learn a new skill and make extra cash! A premium win-win in this economy.
  2. Focus on yourself. Stop dreaming about the other person and pay attention to the most important person in your life – yourself. Get back on track with your goals and plans, and take care of how you look and feel. Treat yourself to a nice spa, and make long overdue doctor’s appointments.
  3. Analyze the situation. There’s nothing unnatural about unrequited love, and we can all go through it. However, it’s not the best experience of our lives, so if you can avoid it in the future – all the better.
Our final tip is don’t be afraid to get help. Loving someone who doesn’t love you is not easy, and you might need professional help to navigate this period of your life. A therapist won’t be able to fix everything for you, but they will help you get back on track, deal with your emotions, and prevent you from spiraling.