It’s the cliche of many romance novels and movies. It appears in movies such as “Twilight”, “500 Days of Summer”, and “Forrest Gump”. It’s also found in books like “The Great Gatsby”, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”, and “The Upside of Unrequited”. But in real life, this problem is a completely different story, one full of heartbreak and pain.
I’m talking about unrequited love.
Unrequited love, is love that is not returned or known by the admired. This may because they openly reject any romantic attraction, or they are just really dense. In my case, it’s usually the rejection one.
During band camp, I came to realization that I had romantic feelings for one of my friends. It was such a weird feeling, I couldn’t describe it. Whenever I would look at them I would feel so happy, whenever they would talk to me, I would stumble on my words because I didn’t know what to say. It gave me a reason to come to band camp, even when I felt depressed. But turns out, they told me they didn’t like me more than a friend, and I was devastated.
In any case, this issue 98 percent of people deal with is nothing like something out of a Sam Smith song. Though dealing with unrequited love is difficult, it’s not impossible.
What you need to first is deal with your immediate emotions; don’t bottle up your feelings. I have trouble doing this; I always think that I’m burdening my friends if I tell them how I feel. But what I’ve learned is being angry and distraught is a perfectly normal thing. Keeping your feelings to yourself is not a healthy thing. I now know that doing that can cause detrimental effects to both your mental and physical health.
According to the American Psychology Association, rejection can be linked to quick onset of depression, development of eating disorders, and insecurity in other relationships. With me, whenever I have to deal with unrequited love, I always get into a depressive state and get really insecure about myself. Even to this day, I get very concerned if I start liking someone, and I constantly question them about who they like, why, and overthink things to the maximum.
Considering this, when dealing with rejected feelings, it’s normal to feel the person you admire doesn’t like you because of your personality, looks, friends, e.t.c.. But in reality, nothing is wrong with you, it’s just the other person’s preference and opinion. People have “types” of qualities that they find attractive. For instance, I figured out that, according to my friends, I usually feel attracted to people that are “short, fiery, and sarcastic.”
Having a type just means that’s what they are more inclined towards being attracted to. Though this isn’t always the case, considering I fell for a person taller and less sarcastic than the other people I liked. What I’m getting at here is just because your love interest has a type, doesn’t mean that’s the only type of person they will fall for.
Back to emotions, it would be stupid not to mention this but, becoming extremely depressed or feeling absolute hatred for the admired for not understanding your love is not good either. Granted, you should let out your feelings, but not in excess. I would always get into a deep depression because I thought something was wrong with me. I thought “what could I change so that they would like me” or “if I do this differently, then they’ll surely like me.” This ideology is both unhealthy, and will only lead you down a dark path of self loathing.
If you are dealing with these feelings, talk to a counselor or even a trusted adult. Trust me, I talk to a counselor every two week and it really helps me lay out all of my feelings on the table.
Ways of coping can differ from person-to-person, but I’ll list mechanisms that usually work for me. Granted, when looking for coping skills, find something that caters towards things you enjoy. For example, since I love my dogs, drawing, and memes, I usually find myself coping by petting my dachshunds, drawing things that relate to how I feel, and looking at memes that make me feel better about my own life.
One thing that always works for me that I didn’t mention is music. Though some people prefer to listen to sad violin music after being rejected, I find it makes me more sad than feeling better about myself. In these situations, I usually look for music I can’t become sad to. This usually compiles of a lot of Metallica and Three Days Grace, but that’s besides the point.
I also journal down my feelings in a notebook. I’ve recently started to become more consistent with my journaling by setting aside a few minutes out of my day dedicated towards it. If writing isn’t really your thing, there are plenty of journal apps out there. I usually write down what happened, feelings, or song lyrics that pertain to my life. For example, I wrote down lyrics from “Someone Who Cares” by Three Days Grace.
Another thing I do is walk my dogs. I do this everyday, whenever I don’t have marching band or something after school, even if I’m not dealing with unrequited love. It gives me time to myself and to think about personal matters. I also like to sing whilst walking, even though my dogs don’t really appreciate my off-key singing and wrong lyrics.
Now here comes the hard part, dealing with the afterwards. If the person doesn’t know your feelings, this is more of a simple task, but if you were flat out rejected, this can be a complicated road to navigate.
What I like to focus on first is not overthinking things. All overthinking does is make me think of the excessive amount of “what if’s” and gets me more anxious. I visualize the process as a staircase or a constant line I need to follow so I don’t get off track. As cheesy as it sounds, it really helps me get focused on what I need to do.