Published: | South Africa

Learning from Unrequited Love

Love is a reaction that can sometimes create a force of attraction stronger than gravity. Love can be formless, mutual and one-sided. Unrequited love is something most people experience in their lifetimes. But is unrequited love the necessary evil that purely exists to expose our troublesome mindsets when dealing with issues of the heart?

What does it take to get someone to like you?

I have asked people this question many times and most often than not, I have received some pretty bad advice.

It feels great having somebody who really wants you.

But it hurts when you start to like someone and your feelings aren’t returned.

If I were to get into a time machine and explore my past self’s love life, then I would find myself in the constant predicament of unrequited love.

Unrequited love is the most ego-shattering, awkward state of affairs anyone can find themselves in.  Especially if the person you have the hots for knows you like them, but still chooses to date someone else. It just makes you feel ugly and unworthy. And sometimes talking to other people about unrequited love is really embarrassing because you have to express you have been heartbroken by a person you never dated!

But sometimes we have to ask ourselves if we unwittingly step onto the snare of unrequited love.

I feel there are three major variables that lead us down the darkened path of unrequited love. They are shallowness, naivety and the lack of emotional intelligence.

I was always influenced by films like Can’t Hardly Wait and many other mushy teen flicks that subtly trained nerdy guys like myself to believe that we deserved to have our ticker tape parade endings with the prettiest girls on the block. Of course, the ticker tape parades remained in my imagination, and the pretty girls would tend to date anybody but me.

It would be insane to pin my failures on the magic of the silver screen because a major part of my failures was my shallowness. Pretty girls dating anybody else but me made me quite angry. And in my head, I would concoct every scenario to villainise her.

I mean if a girl doesn’t want me she has to be shallow right?

Why date any other guy when I am so awesome?

Ugh! What is the whole point of being friends with her if we can’t be anything more?

The FRIENDZONE…that immobilising force of reality that repackages rejection as some consolation prize. The friendzone was kind of like a giant mirror with the letters K-A-R-M-A printed at the top corner.

There were many times I would reject girls just because they didn’t look attractive enough. And there were times I would friendzone people because I fancied someone else.  I’d sometimes make up a lie about not being keen on dating anyone at the moment so I could let a person off easily, but in truth, I wanted a relationship but not with them.

There were moments in which girls would act friendly towards me and I would think they might be into me so I took it as an opportunity to pursue them, and it would end in tears. And I owed that to my under-cultivated social skills and my overwhelming naivety.

There were also times I’d fall for some of my close female friends. In some cases, they would be fresh out of a long-term relationship and I would be the shoulder to cry on during their recovery process, and in that time they would recover and get back with their ex or in some cases date someone else. And in other cases, they would be interested in everybody else but me, because life is unfair I guess.

And if I told you that I did the mature thing and maintained my friendship with these girls then I would be lying. I would always throw a tantrum and end the friendship or just distance myself without “ending the friendship.”

The thing about unrequited love is that it can be a teacher that teaches you the same lesson over and over again. But we just never pay attention. In so many ways the “love” I felt was kind of a means to feed my ego because that “love” was associated with infatuation, an infatuation with winning and trying to prove something to myself.

It was my male ego and my sense of entitlement that led me to believe that I deserved something just because I was a “good guy” in comparison to the textbook bad guy.  But in so many ways I was just another misogynistic prick who thought that women were supporting characters in HIS story.

I had to learn to respect the decisions of women and understand that “NO” didn’t necessarily mean try harder nor did it mean I was something less. Sometimes people need to be in relationships with people who are good for their emotional well being at that particular time, and I guess I wasn’t that person. You can never force someone to love you.

Sometimes the loneliness and sadness you feel is actually the lack of love for yourself. Self-love does not need to equate to narcissism but instead that little something that feeds your emotional well-being and creates that inner security.

Unrequited love is evil, but a necessary evil, that helped me revaluate my life on the path to self-love.

Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece that is NOT written from an academic or professional perspective.  If you are finding it difficult to deal with issues around unrequited love then please speak to a professionally trained counsellor or therapist. 

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