Unreciprocated feelings can often be more about what we are trying to prove to ourselves than the person to whom we are professing our love. When you like someone who doesn’t like you back, the most important thing to realize is that nobody else determines whether or not you are lovable. It is so important to know how to get over someone who doesn’t like you so you aren’t counting on them to prove your self-worth.
The second most important thing to know is that you can try all you want, but you aren’t going to force someone to grow feelings for you. Feelings aren’t intentional. They just happen. If someone doesn’t like you back, it means that they are not right for you. You might not be able to understand why that’s true now, but eventually — a few weeks or months from now — you’ll look up and realize that it’s true.
However, that person you liked will still be able to provide you with some important information about what you do want out of a relationship, and some characteristics that a person who is right for you might share. Take the lesson and move forward. Here’s how you can make that happen.
1. Stop Talking To Your Crush
First of all, I’m assuming your crush has clearly communicated that they are not interested in you. If that hasn’t happened, but you aren’t catching any signals from them, clear up that business up first. You might feel like you are setting yourself up for rejection, but all you’re actually asking for is a little bit of clarity. You might feel initial embarrassment, but you’ll get over it soon.
Once you know for sure that your crush doesn’t like you back, then you need to cut off contact with them. It’s tempting to keep talking to them, but really, all you will be doing is reinforcing that they don’t like you. You can’t honestly say that you are OK with being just friends with your crush either. You want to be with them, and they don’t want to be with you. That is much different than friendship.
If you keep talking to the person who doesn’t like you back, it’ll be like digging a finger into a new wound. Give your sadness a little bit of time to heal by making plans throughout the next week: Schedule coffee with friends, sign up for a new student special at a yoga studio, hunker down in a new project. Think about anything else besides a relationship so you remember all of the wonderful things you can do by yourself or with friends.
2. Purge Your Crush From Your System
Obviously, you don’t want to dwell on a person when you are moving on from them, but you do need to do a good emotional cleanse to work out your crush. After you’ve taken some time to do everything else but think about them, revisit your feelings about your unrequited crush, and let them all out.
Writing and journaling are a huge help for me, but if that’s not your thing, you can always simply record yourself ranting about them. Friends can be good listening ears, but be sure you aren’t overburdening anyone. If you need to wallow, that’s totally fine. Just don’t treat your friends as therapists constantly. (And if you want to, that means that you might benefit from seeking out an actual counselor! Something to think about.)
This is the time to write out all of the embarrassing emails that you would like to send the person to tell them how you feel. Whatever you do, don’t send them — it will make both you and them feel bad — but pretending like you can say it to the person also does have cathartic benefit.
Write and talk and think about them until you’re absolutely exhausted of them and get so bored with the process that you start to question why you liked them in the first place. And then, figure out your answer.
3. Make A List of All The Things You Want In A Relationship
When you like someone who doesn’t like you back, it can feel like you are pinning all of your hopes to a single person. The reality is that if you are looking for a relationship with this person, it probably means that you are looking for a relationship in general. Can you figure out what it is about this person that made you want a relationship with them, and look for that in someone else?
Writing down every single thing that you dream about in a relationship can provide you with some amazing clarity that will make you realize how the person you had unreciprocated feelings for couldn’t fulfill all of them. (Presumably, you want a relationship with someone who is just as crazy about you as you are about them.) It will also help you understand why it was important to meet with and connect with this person in the first place.
Maybe it seemed like they would be a great artistic collaborator, and you know that you would like to date someone in the future whom you could make art with. Maybe you envied their home or their close relationship with their siblings. Maybe you had great intellectual conversations. Now you know that you want someone whom you can have a home with and who is your intellectual match. Maybe they are really funny, and you know that being with a comedian would make you happy.
Liking someone who doesn’t like you back doesn’t have to be a complete loss. It provides you with information that you can use as you find your way forward to the relationship you were looking for all along.
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