Love can be compared to a strong, habit-forming drug, note Roy Baumeister and Sara Wotman in their book, "Breaking Hearts: The Two Sides of Unrequited Love." As such, it holds the "possibilities of agony and misery" when feelings are not returned, the authors explain. Just as there are methods for coping with withdrawal from a controlled substance, there are ways to deal with the heartache of unreciprocated romantic feelings.
Avoid False Assumptions
Much of the pain associated with romantic rejection doesn't have to do with the lack of reciprocation, but with the false assumptions that people attach to the experience of rejection, notes "Psychology Today" columnist and psychologist Jeremy Nicholson, M.S.W., Ph.D. Cognitive distortions such as overgeneralizing and personalization can contribute to negative feelings that can be difficult to manage. Keep in mind that when your feelings are not returned, it is not your fault. In fact, the person you are focusing on may not even know or appreciate the real you, Nicholson says. Keeping this in mind, move on, remembering that it takes time to find the right person and that you may need time alone to find healing before moving on in a new relationship with another person.
Focus on what you can control, advises social psychologist Matt Moody, Ph.D., on his website, Changing Your Stripes. When it comes to attraction, other than being your best self, there is nothing you can do to truly influence another person's actions or feelings. Accept that for whatever reason -- almost certainly something that has nothing to do with the size of your thighs or an unfortunate haircut -- the person you desire simply doesn't share your feelings. Shift gears and think about how to work on improving yourself so that when you do meet the right person, you'll be in a place where you can fully appreciate the relationship and have healthy interactions.
When you have strong feelings for another person, it can be almost impossible to accept that they don't share at least a little of the same desire. However improbable it may seem, you must take him at his word. Respect the boundaries that he has set. If he's told you that he's not interested, don't call or stop by. When you see him, give him his space and resist the urge to give him an enthusiastic hug or snuggle up close to him.
While attending your younger cousin's school play doesn't begin to compare with the joy you would feel while going out with the girl you are enamored with, it is what you must do to get your mind off of her. Rather than regale your best friend with yet another tale of how you're convinced she might yet be the one, accept all invitations that come your way. It's better to be distracted watching a figure-skating competition with a friend than to sit home contemplating what might have been and what will never be.
- Changing Your Stripes: The Case of the One-Sided Crush
- Psychology Today: Dealing With Rejection Part 1 -- Handling Others' Rejecting Behavior
- "Breaking Hearts -- The Two Sides of Unrequited Love"; Roy Baumeister and Sara Wotman
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