How to Get Over Unrequited Love in Ten Easy Steps
Is there anything as painful as pining over someone who remains utterly immune to your charms? We’re not talking about crying over a Justin Beiber poster or fervently wishing Tina Fey was winking at you through your television set; we’re talking about the real (imaginary) thing. Whether it’s that winsome coworker in the office next to yours, or the BFF you secretly yearn to make your BF, it sometimes doesn’t matter that your rational brain knows it’s never going to happen. No matter how often you tell yourself, you can’t convince yourself. There are no two ways about it, unrequited love can be hell—but you can snap yourself out of it. Here’s how.
- Be brave and tell them how you feel. Seriously. I know it’s terrifying, but what do you have to lose? You’re reading an article called “How to Get Over Unrequited Love in Ten Easy Steps”—you may as well find out if your love is actually requited before bothering with the next nine steps. If, on the off-chance this person is unaware that you are madly in like with them, outline your feelings clearly and concisely. Try not to weep, beg, or otherwise embarrass yourself. If they remain (as you’ve suspected) uninterested, read on.
- Accept acceptance. According to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, there are five steps to grieving. Acceptance is number five and you’re to skip right ahead to that one, completely ignoring denial, anger, bargaining (ugh, especially that one), and depression (if you can help it). You can’t make another person fall in love with you. Accept that sad fact and this whole process gets a whole lot easier.
- Quit making excuses. When you’re crushing on someone it’s normal to use any and every excuse you can dream up in order to bask in their presence. It can be as benign as hiding your stapler, so you can borrow theirs, or as, well, crazy as bringing in an insect from outdoors so you can shriek and ask them to come over and murder it. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, it’s time to step off.
- Avoid the object of your affection. This can be difficult if they’re a co-worker, close friend, or person you see nearly every day—but try. If you can’t avoid seeing them, put some distance between the two of you. Don’t go to lunch, don’t volunteer to help them move, and don’t act as their amateur therapist. Don’t be nasty, but don’t be around.
- Get out there! Not meeting anyone? Try online dating, speed dating, wine-tasting, kayak lessons, ordering your friends to fix you up—anything to get your mind off the person you are wasting your time on. While you’re out meeting new people, don’t you dare compare them to she/he who doesn’t want to go out with you, because you’re still seeing them through shiny rose-colored glasses.
- Find fault. Perhaps this isn’t the kindest thing you could do, but as long as you keep this list of your beloved’s shortcomings to yourself, there’s nothing wrong with reminding yourself that you’re infatuated with a real, live human being who comes equipped with all the attendant foibles. Note the way he mispronounces “hyperbole” as “hyper-bowl.” That habit she has of eating off everyone else’s plate? Actually more annoyingly entitled than charming if you really think about it. So the next time you’re lost in thoughts of their dreamy blue eyes, you can bring yourself back to Earth by recalling that time you heard them pass gas.
- Be realistic. Sure, you could use this rejection to throw a pity party for yourself, but the fact is, attraction is fickle. One woman’s Johnny Depp is another’s Herman Munster. Okay, Johnny Depp is pretty much a universal hottie, but you get the idea. Just because this person is unmoved by your handsome smile and winning personality, that doesn’t mean you’re unlovable. It just makes you not their type. And for all you know, they’re into dumb guys.
- Get busy. Know what’s more helpful than sitting around crying over someone who doesn’t care about you? Working out! Going to the movies! Doing volunteer work! Reorganizing your sock drawer! Pretty much anything besides sitting around, crying over someone who doesn’t love you!
- Make an “Over It” playlist. Instead of whimpering along to an Enya CD, pick your favorite empowering songs and mix them together. Better yet, select songs that inspire you to dance around your apartment like a fool, because it’s impossible to feel sorry for yourself when you’re doing the funky chicken in your underpants.
- Become the best possible you. Exercise, start eating right, get a mani/pedi or massage. Throw out anything in your closet that makes you feel fat or frumpy. Read a challenging book and try to learn another language, even if it’s just Vulcan. Because the better you feel about yourself, the better the world will treat you.
Though the pain of unrequited love can be every bit as excruciating as your standard issue heartache, hopefully by following these steps you can recover quicker and soon be on your way to finding a love that is reciprocal.
by Judy McGuire
Judy McGuire has been advising the lovelorn for more than a decade, writing a column called “Dategirl” for the Seattle Weekly, among others. She is also the author of How Not to Date (2008) and The Official Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll Book of Lists (2011).