When Love Is Not Returned

“To love is to risk not being loved in return. To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.” ~ Leo F. Buscaglia

There is nearly nothing worse, than unrequited love. Especially if you are the one who fell and fell hard. We have all felt it before, that hole in our chest that seethes with pain as you realize the object of your affection, the one you’ve bared your heart and soul to, does not return the feeling. Things may seem grim, I’m not going to lie, and it feels like the world just tipped off of its axis and sent you hurdling, but there is hope and there is healing, after the pain.

Meet Dana

Dana was an outgoing and fun-loving 28 year old single mom. She had worked her way from the bottom up in a local law firm to become their most well respected paralegal and was very proud of that fact, considering she only had a partial college education. In addition to her day job, she had a job working as a server in a local restaurant a few evenings a week in order to make ends meet, and take good care of her daughter.

One day one of the lawyers at her firm, a close friend of hers for several years, Scott, told her that he had a buddy who would be just perfect for her and he wanted to introduce them at a party he was having that weekend. Scott told her that his friend was good looking, funny and even owned his own business and that he’d already been told about her, and he couldn’t wait to meet her. Dana hesitated, she really didn’t date a lot because it took time away from her daughter, but she decided she needed to cut loose and have a little fun, a little something for herself and said that she’d be there.

Nothing could have prepared her for their first meeting. When Scott introduced Dana to Lance, sparks were flying immediately. He was handsome, charming and charismatic, she was smitten right from the start, and he seemed to be equally enamored of her. After grabbing a few drinks from the bar, Lance took her by the elbow and led her to a quiet part of the room and they talked and laughed all night and hardly took their eyes off of one another.

Over the next few months, not a weekend went by where they weren’t together. Dana never allowed her daughter to become acquainted with her boyfriends, so it was difficult for Dana to juggle her daughter and Lance, but with the help of her girlfriends, she managed to get some free time each weekend to see him.

As time went on, their relationship really heated up, it went from making-out like teenagers on the sofa while watching a movie to long passion filled weekends and mini-vacations when they could squeeze them in. These two were on fire.

As the relationship progressed, they had graduated from a sexy secret romance to the obligatory family gatherings and holidays, where Dana finally relented and allowed her daughter to meet both Lance and his family. She even took him home to Philadelphia to meet her family the following Easter. Things were going well, and Dana had never been happier. She was really falling hard for this guy.

Months turned into a few years and they continued to live their lives, together but separate, in the respect that they kept their separate homes, even though Dana and her daughter spent more time at Lance’s home than they did their own, Lance never made mention of making the arrangement permanent, and to be honest, Dana was getting a little frustrated.

On their 3rd valentine’s day together, after a nice dinner and a bottle of wine and no mention of a future, as they were lying in bed, Dana was feeling a little fiery and decided that she needed to find out where the relationship was headed, if it was headed anywhere at all.

“I love you.” She said. After a moment he replied, “I love you too.” She took a deep breath and then asked him, “If you love me, then why haven’t you proposed to me?” The pause lasted a little longer this time, and then he said, “I love you, like, I care about you a lot and I love being with you – but… I’m not IN love with you.” Her heart hit the floor as the bottom dropped out of her world and sent her reeling.

Does any of that sound even a little familiar? Needless to say Dana was in a deep pit of despair filled mostly with self loathing and anger. She had, after all, wasted three years of her life on this guy, only to have it come crashing down in one dramatic thud. But she, like anyone else who has had their heart broken, had to come to terms with the reality, pick up the pieces and move on.

Picking up the Pieces

Just like any break-up, getting over the end of a one-sided relationship takes time, but there are a few ways to ease some of the pain:

Put away souvenirs

It’s time to throw out or donate that great big stuffed bear he won you at the amusement park, and you can burn the t-shirt he gave you to sleep in that smells like him while you’re at it.

Do something for you

Get the girls together for a night on the town, or even a spa day. Do something that will make you feel like the gorgeous and sexy woman that you are, instead of feeling like a discarded old newspaper.

Get involved

What do you like to do? Find a drawing class, or a photography class, if that’s your thing. Volunteer at the animal shelter or at your local elementary school. Find something that is all yours and embrace it. Not only will it help fill your time and keep you from moping, but you just might meet some cool people along the way.

Do NOT return his calls

Guys are notorious for this. They don’t want a girl, but they don’t want to let her go either, so they keep her dangling at the end of a string with sympathy phone calls to “make sure you’re ok.” Don’t fall for it. You’re too smart and too good for him.

Take your time

Don’t jump back into the saddle right away. Give your heart time to heal before venturing back out into the dating scene.

No matter what you do, always remember that each ended relationship is not a regret, it’s a learning experience. Take from it what you need, say goodbye and move on with your life. Don’t let a failed relationship discourage you from trying again. Eventually you’ll find the one who was worth all the lessons you have learned and all the risks you have taken and the pain from all the past failed relationships will fade into a distant memory.

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