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Lessons From Unrequited Love

I don’t know a single person who hasn't suffered from the pangs of unrequited love. It is the stuff that haunts dreams, hearts, and souls and also inspires Shakespeare’s plays, Taylor Swift’s songs, and even some of Goethe’s poetry. I say without hesitancy it is one of the most painful experiences of being human.

I can still feel the effects from the first time it happened to me when I was 12. He was my neighbor and I would stare out the window watching to see if he was home (yes, apparently I was creepy even back then). I remember crying when I got glasses because I thought I looked ugly and that he would never love me with them.

Then there was the span of years I spent pining after an ex-boyfriend who healthily moved on after we broke up. Every unrequited loved feeds a false sense of something being wrong with me. Believing if only I changed something about myself that they would love me. I look for ways to win them over, with beauty or charm, or brains. Within this I become my own worst enemy, not allowing myself to just be me.

Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love. ~ Charlie Brown

I have often wondered why everyone around me seems to easily fall into relationships while my life seems like a string of one-sided romantic relationships. Marriage mystifies me as I can’t seem to have a boyfriend longer than a few months, let alone a lifetime. I can count only a few times where the love I felt was mirrored back by another. As depressing as that is to admit, it has taken me a long time to feel the effects of this pattern and actually begin to look at them.

Here are some lessons I have learned in my past however many years that this pattern has had its hold on me:

1) Unworthiness

On some level unrequited love may be about feeling unworthy of receiving love. Receiving love requires an open heart, something many of us struggle with (myself included). It is much easier to give love and externally focus attention, but much more difficult to receive and allow in love.

2) Yearning and Longing

While unrequited love may be caused by unconscious beliefs of being unworthy of love, at its core it is also about longing. It is a belief that something outside of us will make us happy. This belief can become a habit and addiction of mistaking longing for love. More importantly it creates the co-dependent illusion that another person is needed to validate your worth or happiness.

3) Fantasy

In other scenarios, unrequited love fulfills a fantasy. It can be much more interesting or fascinating than the day-to-day reality of romantic love with arguments or snoring. Often times the person of our affections we have put onto a pedestal or made into a sort of God instead of seeing their imperfect humanness. My post on Elephant Journal talks about that danger:

4) Unconditional Love

On the more positive side of unrequited love is what it teaches us about unconditional love. Unconditional love is about acceptance and wishing what is best for another, even if that “best” doesn't involve you. Loving from afar we can learn how to give without expecting anything in return.

5) Karma

And finally, my favorite, my lessons on karma. I have no doubt that my unrequited love of a few years was karmic. The lessons of unrequited love offer so much soul evolution that I cannot imagine it would not be carried on from other lifetimes (if you believe in that sort of thing like I do). I believe soul mate relationships are more difficult to “get over” than just someone we learn some lesson from. While I believe we learn lessons from many people, some people teach us in a way that is more painful than others. I think those are our soul mates and biggest teachers of unrequited love.

We are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love, never so helplessly unhappy as when we have lost our loved object or its love. ~ Sigmund Freud

Almost 20 years since I first got a glimpse of unrequited love, I have yet again found myself in a situation of being close to someone who doesn't feel the way about me as I feel about them. It is heart wrenching and for the first time I feel strong enough to honor myself and step away. This time I want to keep my dignity and not cave into the powerlessness and energy leaks caused by unrequited love. To give my heart the space to feel and heal without distraction (besides watching Great Gatsby of course).

Where ever the pain of unrequited love or the gifts it brings, I’m ready to end the cycle. Ready to finally make space for true love. The kind of love with soul growth that my entire being yearns for. The kind of love that creates more for the entire world. I feel how much love I have to give and can’t imagine giving it away anymore to anyone other than someone who can give it in return.

Tagged: love, freud, soulmates, unrequited love

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