How To Be OK — Really OK — With Loving Someone Who Doesn't Love You Back

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How To Deal With Unrequited Love & Loving Someone Who Doesn't Love You Back

Loving someone who doesn't love you back quite literally sucks. Being in a one-way love situation sucks your time, your emotions, and your mental power in ways that you feel like you have no control over.

Not only are you consumed with adoration, but you're also consumed with the grief that accompanies unrequited love.

It feels like torture and it sucks the wind out of your sails, leaving you feeling like less than you are. 

RELATED: The Real (Sad) Reason We Cling So Hard To Unrequited Love

I get it. At the end of high school, I became close friends with a guy I was in love with for years, despite both of us being in other relationships throughout. We were the type of friends who always had a great time no matter where we were in our lives, and always seemed to know the other was just a phone call away.

A few years after I'd left for college, we found ourselves back in the same town, single, and hanging out almost every night after work, watching Comedy Central, talking about everything, and cackling until all hours of the night.

I was sure this was going to bring about The Moment We Realized We'd Been Wasting Our Time With Other People. This was going to be the time for us to become "US!"

But it never did. We continued to be part of each others' daily lives for about nine months, until we both left to see the world and chase our respective destinies.

Oh, this is not to say that I didn't try to get something going. Even though our relationship was purely platonic, I'd drop genuine, intimate compliments about why he was admirable all the time — not in sleazy, flirty ways, but in earnest "You are someone special that I really, really admire" ways like so many "like a brother" role dudes do in movies just before the leading lady realizes he was the one she loved all along.

He never picked up what I was putting down.

Once, he'd been sunburned while hosting a beach day with a local youth group he helped run and asked me to help him put aloe all over his back. I did so with my heart in my throat, trying to add a tiny bit of sensuality to the process and wishing for a cinematic makeout session to ensue. It was torture.

This is something I confessed to him years later, after he was happily married and we were remembering that brief era in our lives. He cackled in embarrassment.

"OH NOOO!!! I am so sorry. I didn't know! I was in such a weird spot in my life then that nobody was on my radar as potential girlfriend material. I wasn't looking or thinking about love at all."

I was able to laugh about it with him because, honestly, I knew, too. I never said anything to him at the time because, frankly, I knew that if something were going to happen, it would happen.

RELATED: Why You Will Never Be Enough For The Wrong Heart

Maybe that's a cowardly way of thinking, but I've been in enough romantic entanglements to know when both of us are feeling the same thing, even if neither of us have the courage to act on it.

But the realization of loving someone who doesn't love you back and that he was never going to adore me the way that I did him was a hard pill to swallow for a very long time.

What helped was continuing to be his friend from a distance while we both made dramatic changes in our lives.

I couldn't have watched him meet and fall in love with his wife from the close perspective into his life that I'd had for so long; it would've been too hard. But by the same token, I also couldn't have gone out and met anyone new or moved on with my life if we'd continued to stay inseparable, either.

If you're dealing with unrequited love, the only answer is to shower that love onto yourself, even though rejection has a tendency to make us feel the opposite.

Now is not the time for anger; unless he's taking advantage of your feelings, it isn't his fault for not feeling the same about you.

Now is also not the time to listen to people attempting to comfort you by reminding you of "other fish in the sea." That cliché garbage is completely irrelevant for two reasons: One, you're in love with this one person right now; you're not just hurling yourself at every man who strikes up a conversation. Secondly, you're not somehow devoid of self-worth just because you're not in a relationship; you can love yourself and be on your own just fine.

But you don't want to. You want to love him.

That's OK. You can still love him from afar. You're also allowed to feel really, really sad about not receiving that same love in return. But it is crucial not to stand around torturing yourself by holding a torch for something that will never happen while your life stalls.

That's the only cure for unrequited love.

Find it in yourself to detach from interactions with the object of your affection. Go do something that will make you happy, even if it's small and private. Do it a lot. Try a bunch of different, nurturing things that bring you small doses of joy and can fill the void of this one-way-love suckfest.

I promise, after some time, it won't feel so awful and you'll feel like you again. Completely.

RELATED: Why You Keep Falling For Guys Who Don't Love You Back

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Liz Pardue-Schultz is a writer and activist oversharing her bizarre journey through mental illness, recovery, and parenting. Her words have appeared in Huffington Post, Time, Ravishly, and ThoughtCatalog.