When we love a person who doesn't love us back, we can feel like the world is ending, and that pain is extremely real. Scientific studies show that a rejection activates the same neurons activated by physical pain. Although you can't control how you feel, you can learn to overcome the pain of loving rejection and move on.
Part 1 of 4: Giving Yourself Space
Step 1. Accept that suffering is normal
It always hurts when we love someone who doesn't correspond with us, and the “broken heart” is a very real physical sensation: the pain of rejection activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls heart rate and muscle tension, among other functions. Suffering from unrequited love is completely natural, and accepting that these feelings are normal will help you process them.
- Love rejection can trigger the same reaction in the brain that drug addiction does.
- Psychologists estimate that around 98% of the population has suffered from some form of unrequited love. Realizing that you're not the only person going through this may not be enough to send the pain away, but it will make it easier to bear.
- Rejection can also lead to depression. If you experience any of the following symptoms, seek help from a mental health professional immediately.
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits.
- Feelings of despair and abandonment.
- Mood swings.
- Difficulty controlling negative thoughts.
- Self-aggression ideas.
Step 2. Allow yourself to grieve for the loss of the relationship
There's nothing wrong with going through a period of mourning as long as you don't get stuck in it forever. In fact, allowing yourself to suffer is much healthier than trying to repress your feelings. Denying or neglecting the way you feel – saying, for example, “That's no big deal” or “I didn't even love her” – will end up making things worse in the long run.
- If possible, take a break from normal life so that you can process the sadness. This will give you space to heal and to deal with the feeling of grief. For example, the first time you realize (or are told) that the person doesn't love you, spend some time alone, even if it's just taking a 15-minute walk during work hours.
- However, try not to fall into despair. If you haven't been out of the house in weeks, you haven't showered, and you're wearing a puny old sweatshirt that should have been thrown away a long time ago, you're going too far. Feeling sad is natural, but if you don't make the effort to get your life back on track, you will continue to love that person and think about them over and over.
Step 3. Accept that it is impossible to control another person
Your first reaction to realizing that you are unrequited may be to think, "I'm going to make her love me!" This kind of reasoning is pretty normal, but it's wrong and doesn't help at all. In life, the only things that can be controlled are our own attitudes and reactions. You can't convince, argue, or intimidate someone into developing feelings they don't have.
It's also good to remember that it's not always possible to control your own feelings, but you can always strive to control how you react to them
Step 4. Stay away from this person for a while
In order to create space for yourself and move on, you need to remove this person from your life. You don't need to cut off relationships forever, but you should spend time apart.
- Don't be cruel or mean: just ask for a little time to get over the feelings you're experiencing. If that person really cares about you, they'll give you what you need, even if they're not happy about the situation.
- If you're trying to forget about a person whose emotional support was extremely important to you in the past, find another friend to play that role. Ask a friend if you can call him when you feel like talking to the person you're trying to avoid.
- Delete the person from social media, or at least hide their updates. Delete her number from your phone so you're not tempted to get in touch. You don't want to be reminded all the time of the person and what they're doing, it just makes it harder to stay away.
Step 5. Express the feelings to yourself
Expressing the feelings, rather than holding them back until they explode, can help you come to terms with this painful experience. When we suffer a disappointment or a loss, it's normal to have a hard time dealing with it at first. Don't belittle yourself for feeling that way or try to ignore the feelings in the hope that they'll go away. Express them openly and honestly.
- Cry if you want to cry. Crying can be therapeutic. It can reduce feelings of anger and anxiety and even physical stress. If you want to grab a box of tissues and cry yourself to tears, go ahead.
- Avoid taking violent actions such as yelling, yelling, punching or breaking objects. While this may make you "feel good" at first, studies suggest that using violence to express anger-even with an inanimate object-can make it even worse. Reflecting on your feelings and analyzing “why” you feel this way is more beneficial and healthy.
- Expressing emotions through creative activities such as music, art, or a hobby can help a lot. However, it's good to stay away from things that inspire anger or sadness, like death metal songs. When you're upset, this sort of thing can end up making you feel even worse.
Step 6. Realize that you are better off without this person
No matter how awesome she is, if she doesn't like you, she'll never make you happy. It's very easy to put someone on a pedestal, especially when we put a lot of energy into that passion. Taking a step back and examining the situation - without being critical or cruel - can help you distance yourself from this tragic feeling of unrequited love.
- Good also focuses on the characteristics of the person that would have created difficulties in a love relationship.
- For example, perhaps she suffers from such severe social anxiety that it would make it nearly impossible to express her feelings the way you would like her to.
- Studies suggest that recognizing the other person's negative qualities can help you get over a loving rejection more quickly.
- Don't fall into the trap of saying mean things about the other person just to feel better about yourself. That kind of mindset can cause more anger and resentment instead of helping you to get better.
- Believe it or not, a rejection can temporarily lower your IQ. If you are having difficulty analyzing these feelings rationally, accept that it may take some time to get back to "normal."
Step 7. Avoid blaming others
Just as you can't control the fact that you've fallen in love with this person, they also don't control how they feel about you. You're being unfair if you start blaming her for putting you in the friend zone or think she's a horrible person for not liking you. Besides, all this rancor will keep you from moving forward.
You have every right to be upset about not being reciprocated, but you shouldn't blame the other person. Also, you shouldn't allow your friends to blame you. They might try to paint the person as someone horrible because he doesn't love him. If that happens, thank them for their support, but say, "It's not fair to blame the other person for something they can't control. Let's focus our energies on helping me get over them."
Step 8. Get rid of memories
This can be difficult, but it is a very important step in the process. Keeping those memories around will make it harder to get over this person and that's not what you're looking for!
- As you separate each object, think about the memories associated with it, then imagine putting those memories inside a balloon. As you throw the object away, imagine the balloon released in the air, leaving, never to return.
- If you have items in good condition, consider donating them to a charity home or bazaar. Think of all the good memories that t-shirt, teddy bear or CD will bring to its new owner and let these new associations symbolize the transformation you are experiencing.
Part 2 of 4: Implementing Short-Term Solutions
Step 1. Don't call or text the person when you're drunk
You may feel desperate to contact this person, especially at first. When you're sober, you may have enough willpower to control this craving, but everyone knows that alcohol affects our judgment. Getting drunk and berating the person for not loving you or starting to cry because you are so hurt will be shameful for you and uncomfortable for the other person. It can even ruin your chances of developing a true friendship in the future. If you think you can do something you'll regret later, ask friends for help.
- Give your phone to a friend (preferably your current driver), with clear instructions that they should not return your phone to you, no matter what excuse you make or how much you beg.
- Delete the person from the phonebook. That way you won't be able to call or send messages to her, even if you want to.
Step 2. Distract yourself
While not thinking about anything is impossible, it is possible to deflect thoughts whenever they start to go the wrong way. When memories surface, distract yourself with another thought, activity, or project.
- Call a friend. Start reading an addictive book. Watch a really good comedy. Build something. Work in the garden. Study math. Find something that can engage you and allow yourself to put that person out of your mind for a while. Things will get easier as you get into the habit of not thinking about her.
- A very useful trick is to set aside a certain amount of time to think about the person. Don't set aside a huge amount of time: just 10 or 15 minutes. When you start thinking about the person, think of this: "Not now. I'll think about them later." When the “appointed time” arrives, allow yourself to think about the person. When time is up, move on to other thoughts or activities.
Step 3. Remember that unrequited love also causes the other person to suffer
You may think you're the only person suffering from being rejected, but research suggests that the person who doesn't respond to your feelings is probably also suffering. Most people don't like to cause others to suffer.
Keeping in mind that she may feel awful for not being able to respond to you as you would like may give you some perspective. Usually, when someone doesn't reciprocate your feelings, it doesn't mean they're a villain who hates you and wants to make you suffer
Step 4. Create a list of your positive qualities
Loving rejection may convince you that that critical little voice in your head was right all along. Don't believe that just because someone doesn't love you, you don't deserve to be loved. Studies show that when we remember that we are worthy of love, we can overcome rejection more quickly and deal better with future rejections.
- Think of all the amazing things about yourself and put them down on paper. If you have trouble thinking about these things, ask a friend for help.
- Based on these positive characteristics, show love for yourself. For example, "I may not feel strong right now, but I'm an amazing skater and I love that about me."
Part 3 of 4: Getting to Overcome
Step 1. Avoid anything that triggers memories
It will be difficult to get over unrequited love if you are constantly reminding the person. Avoid listening to music or visiting a place that reminds you of the person or an incredible time you lived with them.
- Anything can spark memories, from a photo of the person on Facebook to a song you associate with an incredible moment you lived with them. It might even be a smell (like apple pie, because of that time you guys had an apple pie competition, for example).
- If you find something that triggers your memories unexpectedly, as you probably will, it's best to recognize the moment and move on. Don't spend too much time thinking about the feelings this memory will inevitably bring to the surface. For example, if your music starts playing on the radio, turn off the radio or change the station. Acknowledge the sadness and grief taking over you, but shift your attention to something neutral or positive (what you're going to prepare for dinner, what trip you're planning, etc.).
- Remember, you won't have to avoid these things forever. All you want is for this healing process to be as easy as possible and constant reminiscing will make everything more difficult. When you've gotten over rejection, these things may still remind you of the person, but they won't be as painful.
Step 2. Talk to someone
Venting all the emotional and difficult aspects of the healing process can do you a lot of good. If you repress emotions, you will have a hard time letting them out in the long run. Find someone you can talk to about what you're going through and feeling.
- It is important that this person is someone you trust. It could be a friend you know won't try to speed up your recovery, a family member you can call when you're upset, or even a therapist, especially if this is a long-term love that is related to other issues or with which you have a lot of difficulty to deal with.
- You can also write a journal about these feelings if you don't want to or can't talk to someone. The good thing about writing down your feelings in a journal is that you will be able to record your recovery process, which will provide concrete proof that it is possible to forget about unrequited love.
- Talking to someone who has been through a similar situation can help a lot. You can ask him about his experience and how he handled it.
- People who have been through the same situation can truly understand each other's problems. You will not need to explain the situation as much as you would explain it to other people and they will be able to understand even more.
- Don't share these feelings with people who haven't suffered for love and don't mind if they make fun of the problem, they've never been through it and can't understand.
- Develop a strong relationship with your God (if you believe in any). Strength and spiritual power can be very strong weapons and will make you resilient during difficult times.
Step 3. Strengthen support networks
One of the main side effects of any rejection, especially love rejection, is feeling isolated or removed from others. You may not be able to have the relationship you've always dreamed of with that person, but you can strengthen relationships with everyone in your life.
- Studies show that interactions with loved ones can speed up the body's recovery time. Because emotional pain manifests itself physically in many cases, spending time having fun with your loved ones can help you recover from unrequited love.
- Fun is very important because of the role it plays in the brain, reducing feelings of anger and helping you feel more positive. Laughter really is the best medicine: Laughter releases endorphins, natural mood stimulants, and can even increase the body's ability to withstand pain. So, watch a funny movie, sing drunk on Karaoke or jump on a giant trampoline - laugh, have fun and learn to rise above.
Step 4. Challenge harmful thoughts
Some thought patterns can sabotage the healing process and make it that much harder to move forward.
- Remember that you can live without this person and that person is not perfect. You are perfectly capable of loving someone else.
- Remember that people and situations change.What you feel right now is not what you will feel for the rest of your life, especially if you are making an effort to change.
- There is a type of therapy called the "Thought Interruption Process". You need to do your best not to waste time thinking about someone who doesn't love you. It won't be easy, but practice trying to get rid of thoughts about this person as quickly as possible whenever they arise. At least try it, no matter how hard it may be. You'll recover slowly and gradually, and you'll save precious time you would otherwise spend thinking about her. Life is a very important gift, don't waste it on someone who isn't willing to give a single moment of his life for you. Do something productive in that time. Some people say that "time heals almost everything", so hopefully one day you will overcome these feelings and this experience will only make you grow stronger and wiser.
- In life, many things happen that we cannot change. Always pay attention to people less fortunate than you. Love disappointments are difficult and very painful, but only we can overcome them and become stronger people. Have plenty of self-love and never be self-destructive, always be constructive for your own good. If you have a religion, say a prayer asking to stay strong emotionally and in other areas of life as well.
Step 5. Treat all of this as a learning experience
No one wants to suffer from a broken heart, but it is possible to reframe that rejection into a learning and growing experience, making it much more than just a sad phase in life. You can use it to drive positive growth in the future.
- For example, find reasons to be proud of this experience. Okay, you opened your heart and the person didn't care about your feelings. However, you had enough strength and courage to be vulnerable. If we weren't willing to be vulnerable in front of another person, we wouldn't make connections with anyone or experience deep feelings like love and joy.
- Consider whether this is part of a larger pattern. Some individuals always fall in love with people who reject them, especially if they didn't feel secure about parental love during childhood. If you've had other unrequited loves, you may be unconsciously choosing people who repeat the same problems you had with your parents. It might be helpful to talk about this with a therapist.
- Remember that this experience can teach you very important things, such as being strong and self-reliant. Rejection isn't one of the nicest ways to hone these skills, but if you focus on learning rather than suffering, you'll come out stronger. You might even better understand your emotions and needs.
Step 6. Change the routine
Studies show that doing something different, like going on vacation or even choosing a different route to work, is one of the best ways to break old habits and replace them with new ones.
- If a very big change isn't possible, make small, daily changes. Discover a different area of the city. Move the furniture around. Start a band. Learn a new hobby like cooking or rock climbing.
- Avoid doing something too drastic unless you're absolutely sure that's what you want. This is a time when many people get a haircut or get a tattoo, but it's best to wait to go through the initial recovery before opting for such a change.
Step 7. Find yourself
Since you were so busy loving someone, you may have forgotten about yourself. The recovery period from unrequited love is great for finding your identity, no matter how you feel about another person.
- Work on personal growth. Don't change things about yourself simply because the other person didn't like them. However, if there are aspects you would like to develop, go ahead. Learn a new language. Develop an exercise routine. Learn to play flamenco guitar.
- Develop the features that make you unique. You've spent so much time chasing this person that you may have overlooked important aspects of your personality. Get involved with the things and people you didn't spend a lot of time on when you were busy with that unrequited love.
- Resist the urge to take rejection personally. It's easy to believe that the other person rejected you because you're not good-looking, smart, muscular, or anything else. Learning to run away from this kind of mistake will prevent further emotional damage, as well as prevent you from trying to “fix” yourself in an attempt to win that person's love. Remember: this has nothing to do with who you are.
Step 8. Force yourself out of your comfort zone
Trying new things will help you break out of the rut and avoid associations with the person you are trying to forget. You will be too busy experiencing new things to have time to obsessively think about the person who doesn't respond to you.
- Leaving the comfort zone has other benefits as well. Too much comfort with a situation reduces the motivation to make changes. A little uncertainty will help transform the things that need your most attention in your life.
- Learning to push the boundaries of the comfort zone will also make it easier to deal with uncertainty in the future. Taking (controlled) risks and challenging yourself allow you to accept vulnerability as a fact of life, making it less likely that you'll feel devastated the next time something unexpected happens.
- If you give in to the fear that this rejection was your fault, you may never try again. Forcing yourself to take risks, even small ones, will help to let go of fear.
Part 4 of 4: Moving Forward
Step 1. Recognize the time to move forward
There is no set period of time for overcoming unrequited love, everyone has a different pace. However, some signs show that you are ready to outdo a person who wasn't interested in you.
- You begin to notice what is happening to others. Often, when we are going through a period of mourning, we become a little self-centered, meaning we don't pay attention to the people around us. When you start taking an interest in what others are doing, you'll know you're on the right path.
- You no longer wonder if you are the person who is calling each time you receive a call (especially if it is from an unknown number).
- You stop identifying with songs and movies about unrequited love. In fact, you've expanded your repertoire to things that aren't related to love, or the pain it causes.
- You stop fantasizing about your unrequited crush by realizing that you love him and have always loved him.
Step 2. Watch out for relapses
Even when you're ready to move on, you can relapse if you're not careful. It's like taking stitches out of a wound too soon: it's healing well but not yet ready for vigorous exercise.
- Avoid doing things to the other person or allowing them to come back into your life until you are sure you won't go back to yearning for them.
- If you have a relapse, don't despair! You've already worked hard to forget this person and that effort will pay off! Setbacks happen, and if you give up right away, it will be harder to recover in the long run.
Step 3. Get back to enjoying single life
Leave home, meet new people, flirt and remember how good it feels to be a good catch. Your self-confidence definitely needs a boost and you will meet new interesting people. Also, make a note of each time you meet a better person than the one who rejected you-prettier, funnier, smarter, more sensible. This will put things into perspective.
- You don't necessarily have to go looking for a new romance. The simple act of enjoying the company of other people will do wonders.
- Be careful not to enter into a new relationship just to forget about the person. While it may be recommended from time to time, this only works if you are emotionally prepared and are honest with yourself and your partner about being in this relationship to get over someone. Don't make this new someone feel as unhappy with you as you feel with the person you're trying to forget.
Step 4. Stay motivated
Overcoming unrequited love is not easy! Celebrate any steps you take toward recovery. You should also keep in mind that just because this person hasn't returned your love, it doesn't mean that no one else will.
- Understand that you deserve someone who treats you as well as you treat them.
- Remember that love must be reciprocated, otherwise you will waste valuable years of your life waiting for something that will never happen!
- Learn to love yourself before falling in love with someone.