6 Honest Reasons You're In Love With Someone You Can't Have — And How To Deal With It

We want what we can't have, plain and simple.

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Being in love with someone you can't have is an overwhelmingly infuriating and heartbreaking experience.

Perhaps one of the most puzzling things about the human experience is how we’ve been conditioned to take things for granted. You might be gifted the most beautiful, loving human being in the world as a future spouse, but you’d immediately turn them down for someone who's just not as interested in you.


Why are you in love with someone you can't have?

Why do we fall in love with someone we can't have? Because of the lack of excitement that a “done deal” offers, you may find even the most attractive person boring when compared to a person you just can’t have. Part of this could be your romantic style, which leans more toward an obsession with unrequited love, or it could be a simpler matter of "FOMO" — the fear of missing out.

"Few things make us as acutely unhappy as unrequited love," says clinical psychologist Dr. Paul Greene.

RELATED: How To Deal With (And Get Over) The Painful Rejection Of Unrequited Love


You may have even had childhood trauma that plays into the reason why you never seem to settle for the person who's interested in you, and instead keep going for those that are unavailable.

You’ve probably wondered why your brain plays this cruel trick on you, and there are a couple of reasons why you're falling in love for all the wrong reasons.

7 reasons we fall in love with someone we can't have

1. You're more worried about lost potential than losing a 'sure thing.'

When you’re with someone "sure," you typically know what you’re getting, so you feel safe. You know they have feelings for you, and perhaps they're open to a long-term relationship.

When someone’s just a “maybe,” they tend to be more closed off. This gives you time to make up an idea of who that person is, which is where you begin to romanticize who they are and create an "idea" of them rather than getting to know the real version.


You may worry that they're actually a better match for you than the person you've already got, and wonder "What if..." even if the reality wouldn't be as good as the idealized version in your mind.

2. You get fooled by your instincts.

Biologically, you’re hard-wired to look for a partner that would be the best fit for family-rearing purposes, whether you're interested in having kids or not.

This instinct may trick you into believing that if a person is enthusiastic about dating you, you'd be dating down, and you’d be losing out by sharing genetic resources with that person.

Likewise, someone who meets your idea of an attractive partner but gives is ambivalent or gives off disinterested signals toward you may accidentally trigger that part of your brain into believing you'd be the one dating up if you could snag them.


3. You're addicted to the chase of unrequited love.

Can you be in love with someone you've never been with? Yes and no. It's more like you're in love with the idea of "catching" someone you deem worthy.

Humans are natural predators. We hunt one another, and chasing someone around is exciting. If someone seems to be avoiding your attempts to get with them, you may enjoy spending your time trying to pin them down more than you know.

4. You feel like you've got a back-up plan.

You may have someone who's there for you and has expressed interest, but your brain is now counting them as a "sure thing," and casting them aside in search of other matches.

The problem is that you may become too confident that the person in question will always be around. But your brain won’t listen to the logic that the “sure thing” will eventually get sick of waiting and bolt.


Your subconscious already sees the sure thing as done and available, while the person who isn't available is still "conquerable" and rife with opportunity.

5. You want what someone else has.

Your nature makes you believe that people who are pre-selected by other potential mates have better genes than those who haven’t been selected. This is often called the "wedding ring effect," which explains the idea that women tend to prefer men who've already been chosen by another woman.

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

6. You worry that you're missing out on better things.

This is because people always idealize what they can't have, and in the age of social media, getting to see the Pinterest or Instagram side of someone only may make you forget that person has flaws, too. You idealize a version of someone that doesn't exist and then worry that you'll miss out on an amazing relationship, even if it's not true.


If you find yourself in love with someone you can't have, it can be a singularly painful experience. If you don't know what to do if you're in love with someone you can't have, it can feel like a hopeless situation.

7. You're subconsciously running from intimacy.

"People often come to relationships from the place of their early wounding," says psychologist and therapist Dr. Lorell Frysh. "They might be trying to prove they're lovable by being attracted to someone who's unavailable, but it's a form of self-sabotage."

If you keep falling for someone unavailable, look to your past. Could you subconsciously be trying to prove to yourself that you're not being "rejected?"

Early childhood difficulties connecting with your parents may result in you being feeling like no one will ever truly love you, in which case, falling for someone who isn't available is a safe route.


"In an unconscious way, it reinforces the fear that they're not really worth loving," Dr. Frysh suggests. "It might also unconsciously be a way to avoid intimacy."

How to deal with loving someone you can’t have

1. Cut ties with the person you're pining after.

How do you leave someone you love but can't be with? It can be incredibly tough to go no-contact with the object of your affection, but it's an important first step in getting yourself off of the "idea" of them and the romanticized relationship you two might have.

"The quickest way to move on is to try to limit contact with the other person as much as you can," adds Dr. Greene. "Life will eventually fill in the gaps with other things, and your mood will improve as you engage your mind elsewhere. It’s easier said than done, but it can help a lot."

Let them go. If they weren't interested then, you can't force them to be.


2. Focus on yourself and your needs.

Taking time to pamper yourself and focus on something other than the person you love can help alleviate these feelings.

You might be obsessing over this person and not even realize it, so putting your attention on something you can have, like a better relationship with yourself, could be a way to help you let go of that obsession naturally and discover what you really need in a partner.

3. Take a break from dating.

When you've fallen hard for someone who can't love you back, your heart is going to take a beating no matter how hard you try to protect yourself. This is not the time to try and put yourself back out into the dating world, but rather to take a break from it.


Find out during this time what would make you fulfilled in your own life so you can be complete before you find new love.

4. Don't ignore or minimize your feelings.

The biggest mistake you could make is to try and shove those feelings aside and pretend like they never existed to begin with. Know that your feelings are real and valid, and even if you never stood a chance of being with that person, you still felt those emotions.

Allow yourself to acknowledge and work through them. If you're having difficulty or need help, speak with a therapist who can give you guidance.

5. Create other fulfilling relationships.

Spend plenty of time with family and friends. You could even work at starting a new hobby together, so you'll have something to focus on as you let go of the love you felt for that person.


The plus side is that these other important relationships will become stronger, and you might even find a fantastic new activity you love with good times shared by all!

RELATED: 22 Of The Greatest, Most Powerful Quotes About Unrequited Love

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer based out of Red Bank, New Jersey. She writes primarily about lifestyle, food, finance, and relationships. You can follow her Twitter.