I wasn’t planning to write on this topic today, but numerous readers emailed saying they were waiting for my next post on what to do when your love is not reciprocated. So, here we go. At the outset, let me say there’s little you can do if you love someone but they don’t love you (back).
The other person may change, they may even come around, but he or she will not love you the way you love them. I have met hundreds of couples and have responded to thousands of emails (literally), and I’m yet to see even one such case. Yes, it’s possible that two people continue to live together amicably out of commitment or care; in fact, it’s a common scenario, but those warm feelings they once had for each other rarely return.
Why do people stop loving each other, and what can you do if you are not loved back? Read on.
There was a girl who was deeply in love with a guy. He was an angry man but he assured her that he would change after their marriage. She believed him because she loved him and because she wanted to believe that he would change. So, they got married.
The husband became increasingly abusive soon after their marriage. For the first year, she was still in a state of disbelief and shock, for he was doing everything opposite to what he’d promised. In the second year, she thought the situation would improve. In the third year, she tried to change herself, thinking this might make them both happy and he might change too. In the fourth year, she realized it wasn’t happening, and a year later, they divorced.
Battered and hurt, she decided she would never marry again. But, a few years later, she was married to another person. This time, the guy was too sweet, unusually so. He was the other extreme compared to the first one.
Citing some obscure spiritual reasons, he avoided sleeping with her. They were introduced by members of a religious organization, so she believed him. Thinking that at least he was providing for her and was not abusive, she accepted their marriage sans intimacy. Twenty years later, out of the blue, one day, he broke down and said, “I’m sorry, but soon after I was betrothed to you, I’d gotten into an affair and it went on forever.” She was numb. Her whole world was wiped out.
“How long did you see her?”
“Why are you telling me now?” she said.
“I couldn’t keep it in me anymore.”
“So, what do you want?”
“I don’t want a divorce,” he said.
“This is ridiculous! You cheated on me for 17 years,” she said. “Why did you leave her?”
“We broke up because she wanted me to leave you and I couldn’t. So, she married someone else.”
“But we had nothing to share in the last 20 years.”
“Yes, but I cared about you,” he said.
“This is crazy. Is that why you never touched me because you loved her? Tell me the truth.”
He kept quiet.
“I wish you hadn’t done that,” she said. “You wrecked my life. All those years, I thought I wasn’t good enough for you. I didn’t know you loved someone else. I’ll never forgive you for this.”
They separated soon after and eventually divorced. This was a real-life story I shared without distortion or exaggeration. An episode like this is not common, but I’ve cited it to tell you that when the other person is not invested in you, there’s practically nothing you can do to make them love you. It doesn’t mean harmony can’t be revived in relationships, but when the damage is too great or if the other person is not willing to work on it, there’s little hope.
What can you do if an apple rots? You can’t really restore it.
When you’ve tried everything you can think of, when you’ve given it your best shot, and you are still not loved back, at that time, you’ve got three choices:
a. Change yourself
If you have no choice, if must you stay with the person due to financial, family or other reasons, and they don’t love you back, well then, stop expecting love so you may live in peace. If you can’t move out, for your own sanity, move on – mentally. This is not necessarily the easiest, but it’s the most practical and feasible choice.
b. Change the other person
In reality, this is not even a choice because you can’t change the other person unless they are willing to change. I’ve listed it here for a reason though. Quoting Brené Brown, “You cannot shame or belittle people into changing their behaviors.” If you want any change in the other person, you can’t expect it by demeaning them. When they don’t give you what you expect from the relationship, you can’t have it by continuously whinging about it.
c. Change the person
Often, a lot of people go for this option only to enter into another unfulfilling relationship. When you decide the current person is no good and that you must have someone else, be very sure you’ve actually and honestly done whatever you could to save the relationship. That said, if you are in an abusive relationship, please don’t blame yourself. There’s no justification for abuse in a relationship. In that case, protect yourself and move out.
“I don’t know the solution,” a man said to his friend while complaining about his wife. “I don’t know what to do with her.”
“Why, what’s wrong?”
“She has the worst memory in the world.”
“So, she forgets everything?”
“I wish,” the man sighed. “She remembers everything, man.”
Sometimes, it’s just about if you are willing to forget, if you are willing to overlook some things; sometimes, this is all it takes. Leo Tolstoy wrote in Anna Karenina: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
Life is mostly about relationships, professional, personal and interpersonal. The first relationship you have is with yourself. Respect and value it. Don’t torture yourself. People with high self-esteem possess one common trait: they value themselves, they value what they have to offer and they consider themselves worthy of love. They believe it.
Compassion and care are part of their natural makeup. No doubt there are others too who have no empathy or compassion, they too claim they are worthy of love. The difference is they do it out of their ego and not self-esteem.
Go on! do something worthwhile with your thoughts, with your time, with your life. Peace of mind is not a blessing but a commitment, a choice. Choose carefully. If you are committed to being happy, no one can stop you.
You have tried everything possible to get the other person to love you the way you love them. Nothing has worked. You feel you can never move on. You are doomed to one-sided love forever. But there is hope. One-sided love doesn’t have to remain one-sided love. When we learn to put ourselves first, a lot changes.
Art of Meditation
Free yourself from suffering and live life to the fullest. Learn the yogic technique of meditation in 4 days (and master it over a lifetime)
Read on to understand further what we can do to remove ourselves from or accept a one-sided love situation:
Is the Universe testing me by making me constantly suffer through one-sided love?
God cannot solve our relationship problems because he did not create them in the first place. It has nothing to do with God, Universe, Nature, or whatever name you want to give. We suffer when we are unable to handle ourselves, our emotions, and our circumstances.
The only way to end our suffering is to overcome ourselves. Other people in our lives are merely enablers and catalysts of the suffering we already carry within. Suffering is another name for our inability to come to terms with life. You may be experiencing one-sided love because you have not yet learned to take responsibility for yourself.
Read more here.
How do I move on from one-sided love and make a fresh start?
Nothing hurts more than neglect. To feel loved is not a privilege but a basic human necessity. It is rudimentary. Unfortunately, in our world today, most are deprived of love. It’s often a futile exercise to keep searching for love or to keep wanting it from someone else. Therefore, if you are not being loved by someone else, learn to love yourself. This is the most sustainable way to get over one-sided love.
It takes a while to get to that state — to be in love with yourself, selflessly. Until then, give your love to others, to those who want it.
Read more here.
Though my partner and I share a pleasant and loving relationship, I still feel he doesn’t love me passionately like I do him. It feels like one-sided love. What do I do to change this?
Desires make us blind. The mad pursuit of endless desires makes one oblivious to what’s already there to be enjoyed. If your partner treats you with respect, care, and looks after you well, this is not one-sided love. It is mere desire. Desires keep you busy, they keep you on your toes, and above all, they make everything you already have appear small and lacking.
Your partner loves you but the desire to have more or something else from him or her will make you feel incomplete in the present. The desire to have more becomes a great barrier to enjoying the present moment.
Read more here.
Why am I so hesitant to move on from a one-sided love situation that will never change?
It is the fear of happiness. This fear makes us feel, we can’t be worthy of so much love and care. We couldn’t possibly deserve this goodness.
If you want to rise above the fear of happiness, so you may live your life to the fullest, don’t allow anyone to belittle you. And if they do, they shouldn’t be a part of your life. Distance yourself. Find a way. If you are experiencing one-sided love in such a manner, move on for your own sake.
The fear of happiness comes from not believing in yourself, it comes from taking yourself for granted. And, if you allow others to treat you as a dumping yard, to take you for granted then let me tell you, they will take you for granted.
Read more here.
We were deeply in love once but she no longer seems to have time for us, avoiding me whenever possible. I feel helpless because I still love her. Can I change this one-sided love situation?
In essence, people change; not necessarily for the better or worse always, they just change. And, when they change, promises they once meant, they may no longer feel that way anymore. If you accept it, your life will become easier. It looks lucrative — to change the other person; it even looks possible — to make the other person adjust according to you.
The truth is, it is too ambitious. Much easier is to change yourself, for your own happiness, for your own good, for your own peace of mind. One-sided love will no longer feel so painful once you have made the choice to change yourself.
Read more here.