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

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Love is great and awesome and wonderful, but, unfortunately, it can be painful and ridden with heartache. This is because you can fall in love with someone who doesn't love you back, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is a different kind of pain.

Loving someone who doesn't love you back quite literally is the biggest bummer of them all. Being in a one-way love situation absorbs 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.

What happens when you love someone who doesn't love you back?

When you love someone who doesn't love you back, you feel pain, grief, and shame.

You feel pain because you realize these feelings you have will never be reciprocated. It's a feeling of rejection that hits the heart the hardest. You also feel like this person was the only one for you, and you lost somehow. And you feel grief for the loss of the fantasy that loving this person would have given you if they felt the same way. You feel shame for loving someone who will never feel the same; you wanted it so much and feel foolish for falling for someone who doesn't feel the same.

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According to psychologist Sandra E. Cohen, Ph.D., "There couldn’t be anything more painful than loving someone who doesn’t love you back. You’ve been patient, understanding, maybe even desperate to be everything he wants you to be, putting yourself aside, jumping when he wants anything, only to be hurt over and over again."

Can you be in love with someone who doesn't love you back?

You can certainly be in love with someone who doesn't reciprocate your feelings, but love must be returned in order for it to be real. It's devastating to realize that, but you aren't alone; in fact, almost everyone has experienced this pain.

Some believe everyone should fall in love with someone who doesn't love them back because surviving that kind of pain teaches you important lessons. It teaches you that love cannot be won like a stuffed animal in an arcade game. It teaches you that pain is temporary and that you are so much stronger than you think.

The most important thing is that you will eventually realize that just because one person didn't love you, that doesn't mean you will not be loved by others.

What to Do if You Love Someone Who Doesn't Love You

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. And 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.

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But it's crucial not to stand around torturing yourself by holding a torch for something that will never happen while your life stalls.

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How To Move On From Loving Someone Who Doesn't Love You Back

1. Accept the reality of the situation.

While it's easy to dwell in the past and hang on to a small sliver of hope that this person will one day come around, the best course of action is to accept reality.

Life coach Mitzi Bockmann says, "I know you believe that you can convince them to love you, but unless they are actively willing to try to love you, your efforts will be doomed from the start."

2. Remove them from social media.

Bockmann suggests deleting the person you love from social media, even if it's difficult and makes you upset.

"I know the idea is painful, but I would encourage you to accept this truth and focus your energy on putting them behind you (i.e., blocking them everywhere), and looking ahead to finding someone who will love you truly," she says.

3. Ask yourself why this happened.

"Are you repeating something from the past? Maybe you didn’t get enough love as a child or that love was hard to reach. You don’t have to do that now," Cohen brings up.

Now is the time to determine why you cannot move past these feelings. "If you’re struggling and need some help, reach out to a therapist. Having someone in your corner to sort this out, can be life-changing," she adds.

4. Remember that you will love again.

"You deserve more than the 'love crumbs' you are getting. Even if you think you’ll never love this much again, you will. Do some soul searching about what you need and don’t accept less," Cohen recommends.

Don't give up on finding love, despite your experience with someone not loving you back. There's someone out there for you — you just have to keep the faith that you will find each other.

5. Love yourself.

The only cure for unrequited love is to love yourself. 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. Spend time with yourself and get to know who you are again.

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 suck-fest. After some time, it won't feel so awful and you'll feel like you again. Completely.

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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 on Huffington Post, Time, Ravishly, and ThoughtCatalog.