Hollywood is not very good at telling us the truth, at least not about love and relationships. And when it comes to unrequited love, well, you can forget what you’ve learned in the movies and popular music and from what I like to call the “romance mythology industry.”
Hollywood movies will tell you that if you love somebody who doesn’t return the feeling, what you need is persistence and some sort of wild, crazy stunt to get their attention and show them just how much you care, as well as how amazing and creative and unique and romantic you are.
Serenade them outside their bedroom window, send them a dozen roses or boxes of chocolates day after day after day, pursue them around the earth, show up unannounced at their office with gifts, learn a foreign language and dazzle them by being able to speak it, get their name tattooed on your arm.
Write love letters – real, ink-on-paper love letters – and enclose them in envelopes scented with perfumes and decorated with glitter hearts.
Eventually, according to the Hollywood script, they are bound to realize just how wonderful you are, how much better you are than the person they are now involved with, assuming they are in a relationship. They’ll dump that “wrong” person they are with and come live happily ever after with the “right” person, i.e. you.
Hollywood Is Not Real — Repeat, NOT Real
Forget about it.
Show up at dawn outside somebody’s bedroom window playing music and you’re likely to get a visit from the police – if your love interest doesn’t call them, surely one of the neighbours will. In some neighbourhoods, people may throw things out the window at you, or worse.
Pursue the object of your unrequited love to their office too many times and you may become the subject of a court order to stay a certain distance away.
All these wild Hollywood ideas come not from an understanding of reality by movie script writers and directors. They are in there because they make movies entertaining and sell tickets and win cinema awards.
How To Really Boomerang Your Love
So what do you need in the real world if you love someone and they don’t love you back?
First, you need to understand that it is impossible for you to change another human being, to make them start to love you when they don’t love you right now. Love and attraction are based on lots of factors, some of which are chemical or physical, and over which we have no voluntary control.
Some scientists say pheromones dictate who we are attracted to and who we aren’t. Others say it is the bilateral symmetry of the face, which shows what good genes someone has. Others say it is the proportions of the body.
But all these cues are subconscious or completely unconscious. We don’t really fall in love with someone because they hang around outside our office in the rain waiting for us to get off work. Even if they have a box of chocolates under their umbrella.
Think about your own experience, your own situation. Did you ever decide to fall in love with someone? Not likely. Even our metaphors in the English language for romance give you a clue – we fall in love, or we are swept off our feet, or hit by a thunderbolt – all phrases that reflect our powerlessness over it.
So the most important thing for you to understand about unrequited love is that you don’t have much of a chance. Yes, it is possible that this other person may change their feelings about you someday.
It does sometimes happen. Love is quite magical and mysterious. But more often than not, it doesn’t happen that way, and even if it does happen, it is not going to happen on your schedule and due to your efforts.
Focus on What You Can Control
The best you can do is to focus on the parts of the equation you do control. Mainly you have control over yourself, although in some cases even that is a bit of a stretch. So acknowledge your feelings, don’t deny them. You really do love this person and feel a powerful, even painful romantic longing for them.
You should respect your own emotions rather than bury them somewhere in the basement of your psyche where they’ll return with a vengeance in the future. Do whatever you need to express and acknowledge those feelings, but do it in private or with a trusted friend, not the person you are in love with.
Writing is a good way to get your feelings out. Put them all down on paper, page after page after page if necessary. Pour out your heart. Then destroy the paper. Do this every day if you need to.
Stay focused on yourself and on your life. Don’t sit around in a dark apartment with the shades all drawn. Don’t stop brushing your teeth or eat only instant noodles from a plastic cup. Don’t punish yourself. Get out and enjoy your life. Stay involved in social activities or get involved in them if you aren’t already a social person. Take some classes and keep your brain busy. Go to the gym or get out and take a walk or bike ride every day for exercise.
Remind yourself that, even though you love someone who doesn’t return the feeling, you can still go out and have an interesting and happy time.
Read some books and talk to your friends about them. Take a trip somewhere.
Be Active, Happy
All this activity will keep you happy, healthy and interesting to other people. If the object of your affections ever does change their mind, you will have a better chance of attracting them if you are a happy, intellectually curious human being, rather than a pathetic shut in.
As far as communicating your feelings to the person you love, you are allowed to tell them once. Meet with them, have a grown up conversation – no begging, no pleading, do not humiliate yourself – and tell them how you feel. Do not ask for anything. Just let them know how you feel and then drop the subject.
After that, all you can do is wait. Continuing to pester them will either come across as needy, whiny and pathetic, or as bullying and stalking. Neither of those situations is appealing or attractive.
So, as hard as it is to do, tell them how you feel just once, and then let them go. It is possible they will remember what you’ve said and someday fall in love with you. But that someday may never come, and you need to accept that and continue living your life.
Your feelings may surprise you and change over time, too. Stranger things have happened.