Love may not always be reciprocal. Sometimes we may find ourselves loving someone who does not love us back.
The best thing to do is let go. Unrequited love may prove to have destructing effects if encouraged.
Hence we asked 11 experts, how to let go of someone you love who doesn’t love you back?
Below are their top insights.
Margaret Paul, PhD
Relationship Expert | Co-Creator, Inner Bonding
Instead of focusing on whether or not your partner loves you, focus on whether or not you are loving yourself
Letting go of someone you love who doesn’t love you back feels impossible when you have made that person your source of love – which means that you have rejected and abandoned yourself.
But if you have learned how to love, see and value yourself, and you have learned how to tap into a spiritual source of love, then letting go of someone you love who doesn’t love you back is fairly easy, because it isn’t loving to yourself to be with someone who doesn’t love you.
Often, people stay in a relationship with an unavailable partner, hoping to get that person to love them, not realizing that if they themselves were truly available, they would never stay in a relationship with an unavailable partner.
When you love and value yourself, you want to be with people who love and value you, so it would be easy to leave an unavailable partner.
If you are having trouble letting go of someone you love who doesn’t love you, then do your inner work to learn to love yourself and treat yourself as you would treat someone you love.
We need to first become the love we are looking for, and then we will be able to share love with an available partner.
So instead of focusing on whether or not your partner loves you, focus on whether or not you are loving yourself, and when you are, you will find it easy to let go of a partner who doesn’t love you.
Psychotherapist | Life Coach, Parenting Pod
Imagine the future with this person
When we are in love, we find it hard to imagine that our future could be any different from the ideal. So, chances are that right now you are painting in your mind an idealistic picture of what your relationship would look like.
However, relationships are about give and take. And in a relationship without reciprocal love and care, you would likely feel neglected and hurt most of the time.
Create space for yourself to heal
Take some time away to grieve and heal is necessary. You have every right to stop seeing or communicating with someone who doesn’t love you back. Social media tends to prolong the healing process if we check their profile every day to see how they are living without us.
The pain from knowing that they’ve moved on can feel unbearable. This is why you shouldn’t expose yourself to it. Instead, take the time to express your feelings through any channel you feel suits your needs: music, talks with friends, art, sports.
Let go of the thought to win them back
When we are not loved back, we tend to feel that there is still something we could do that can make the difference. We get stuck in devising strategies and tactics to win our loved one back. In most of the cases, the reason we do this is not because there’s actually something that could make them fall in love with us.
We usually do this because accepting that it is over is more painful than feeling that there’s still room for change. The first confronts us with helplessness, and the second gives us options to think about.
It is so hard to accept that the person we love does not love us back and the step of acknowledging that is never easy. However, the more you are holding yourself back from this step, the harder it gets to heal.
Registered Clinical Psychologist, Between Us Clinic
Don’t try to avoid or forget about the person. It’s simply not going to happen!
Why? Try this: I would like to NOT think about a purple elephant. Now, I’m willing to bet you’re thinking about a purple elephant, right?
Research has shown, time and time again, that thought suppression doesn’t work: the harder you try to stop thinking about something, the more likely you are to think about it.
So, rather than avoiding thoughts and/or reminders of your unrequited love, you need to acknowledge the feelings that arise – sure – but also try to think more critically about this person who you are so enamored by. You also want to try to get to know them a bit better. Why?
To put it simplistically, we’re all made up of aspects which are both good and bad. When we fall in love, we tend to see only the good and downplay the bad. We also tend to project our own fantasies onto a person whom we don’t know all that well, idealizing them and turning them into something which they might not actually be.
Related: Why Do We Fall in Love with Someone
This is what keeps us hooked – we’re obsessing over their positives, but we don’t have the chance to become acquainted with their negatives.
If you try to think a little bit more clearly – or allow yourself a bit more time to get to know this person – you’ll start to see them in a more realistic light and you may find that you’re not actually quite as enamored as you initially thought.
How can you do this? Take a step back. Think critically about your emotional responses. Schedule a platonic catch-up over a coffee. Take the time to get to know this person in a way that helps you to work through your fantasies and projections.
Consultant, Prominent Couples Therapist in Los Angeles
One of the most painful experiences in life is unrequited love.
It hurts when you deeply love someone and they, for whatever reasons, don’t feel the same way. If it is truly not going to work, there are some specific things you can do for yourself that will help you recover from your heartache.
#1 The very first thing you need to do is to face the reality that they are simply not into you.
It doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you. It may just mean that, for whatever reasons, the two of you are not a good match in their eyes. Once you come to accept that, it is time to move on.
#2 What I recommend next is that you simply do not see them for a minimum of 90 days.
This isn’t a random number. Over the years, my clients have discovered that if they can disengage from an ex for at least three months, their chances of being able to move on and re-engage in social life is dramatically improved.
#3 If you find yourself still pining for them, I would strongly recommend that you not follow them on any SM.
Unfollow, block or unfriend them. You don’t need to do this out of anger but simply as a way to not torture yourself. Stalking them is only going to prolong your emotional suffering.
#4 Resist the temptation to ask your friends or family to spy on your ex.
This likely means that you are holding on to a false hope that your ex is going to come around. Odds are, they aren’t.
Senior Manager, People Looker
You keep yourself from accepting the end of a relationship if you continuously reminisce about the good times.
That’s not to suggest that you should block the good times from your memory. However, the truth is that the relationship also included less than good times, which is why it ended.
You need to be realistic about the relationship rather than idealistic. This will help you to process the event in a healthy manner and allow yourself to grow from the experience and move forward.
Get rid of the reminders of the relationship
In order to break free of the constant memory of the relationship, you’ll need to get rid of the things that remind you of it. For example, gather the items that belong to your ex. Call them and ask that you organize a day and time for them to come and get their things. Gather all the photos of them and discard them.
Read related article: How to Let Go of the Past and Move On
Abandon the theory of “the one”
Let go of the idea that there exists only one perfect person for each of us. Rather, consider that most people will experience multiple relationships before they decide on a “life partner.”
Ending a relationship shouldn’t cause you to feel defeated. Some relationships end. There are things one can learn from each relationship that can help them in the next relationship. When you abandon the theory of “the one,” you open yourself to the possibility of a new, healthy, loving relationship.
Don’t obsess over what went wrong in the relationship, what you feel you did wrong, or what you think you could have done differently to have possibly saved the relationship. In addition, avoid thoughts such as “It was all my fault” or “No one else will ever love me.”
These are examples of negative self-talk. This can have damaging effects to you on a physical and emotional level. Once you stop repeating this negative pattern, you begin to allow yourself to move on from the relationship.
Avoid seeing your ex
You want to engage in behavior that will help you stop loving someone who doesn’t love you. Revisiting a place where you shared memories with them will not help you achieve that goal. In other words, avoid the places where you know they frequent.
You may be tempted to want to see them “one last time” or have that conversation where you ask them what you could have done differently, but all that will do is reopen a wound you are hoping will heal.
Anahid Lisa Derbabian, MA, LPC, NCC
Licensed Professional Counselor | Coach | Healer, Help Me To Heal
Realize that it is now time to let go of this person
When you are immersed in loving someone, focusing on them, constantly thinking about and doing for them, you may miss the fact that they may not have the same level of feelings for you nor the intentions of creating the future that you desire.
If you realize that this is the case, this is your opportunity to begin to reconnect with and love yourself, as this is where your love should begin…directed at you, so that no matter what occurs in life you always will have the deep and real love and attention that you always have sought.
As you start to reconnect with yourself, allow yourself to feel what you truly want and desire in a loving relationship.
Feel into recognizing that you deserve someone who adores you as much as you adore them. Ground yourself with these truths and this love, and in so doing you will begin to shift and start to take your power back.
And, as you begin to feel the strength of your personal power within, you can truly acknowledge that this relationship was a blessing in that it helped you to beautifully reconnect with yourself and to realize that this relationship is not really what you want and deserve…since you very much desire a mutually loving relationship.
Realize that it now is time to let go of this person, and so send them love and blessings on their life’s path.
The sooner that you can allow your spirit to let them go the sooner you can open yourself to who is meant to enter into and be in your life.
Licensed Psychologist, Ambrosia Treatment Center
Go out and live your best possible life
What marks the difference between tragedy and transcendence is all in the approach you take.
Start working towards acceptance by sitting down with your feelings and acknowledging them. Letting go of someone you love is similar to the grieving process that people go through when they lose a loved one.
The stages of grief include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Going through this process isn’t necessarily a step by step process, and you might find yourself bouncing back and forth between each stage.
Ask yourself questions and try to figure out where you are in that process. Comforting yourself is usually easier said than done, so don’t hesitate to get personal and professional support while on your journey.
And if all else fails, remember that the best way to feel better is to go out and live your best possible life. It might not feel like it right now, but it’s possible to get the love you seek in a genuine way.
Irina Baechle, LCSW
Relationship Therapist | Dating Coach, Irina Baechle LLC
Energy and time that we put in our relationships not always give back what we expected.
Sometimes it turns out that you have invested much more emotionally than your partner. To put it simply, you realize that you love someone who doesn’t love you back. When this happens, a breakup seems like the most reasonable way out.
However, research shows that divorce or breakup sit high on the list of the most stressful life events.
If you’re struggling to let go of someone you love who doesn’t love you back, keep to one clear rule: The No Contact Rule. This means:
- No calls
- No emails
- No messages
- No stalking or contacting your ex’s family or friends.
Studies indicate that keeping in touch post-breakup may put off recovery and personal growth. Thus, the best way to let go of someone you love who doesn’t love you back is to avoid any exposure to this person.
Parenting and Motherhood Expert Blogger, Mommy Enlightened
It’s always difficult to let go of someone you love – especially when it’s because they don’t love you.
It’s a complicated kind of loss, as it can easily cause you to start questioning what went wrong and your own self-worth.
The problem is, all relationships end for a reason. Often there are plenty of warning signs present, even though we are blind to them when we are in the throes of love.
We look at these memories with a loved one through rose-colored glasses. Studies have shown that our memories are not exact copies of experiences. We construct our distant memories by using our current feelings and expectations in combination with information fragments.
That means that we can (and often do) revise our memories to suit our current feelings/expectations.
If you have an understanding of this, you can approach thinking about the relationship in more rational terms. Think about the warning signs that were present. Try to keep your recollection as factual as possible, and write out the problems that were present.
Why weren’t you compatible? What kinds of things did you argue about? Were you treated and respected as an individual? Did you treat and respect them as an individual?
It’s essential to avoid demonizing the other person. People fall out of love every day.
That doesn’t make the other person bad,– it just means you were incompatible. Examine what part you played in the relationship and evaluate whether you were a good partner.
These questions aren’t to make you feel bad about mistakes, but it’s good to be aware of our shortcomings so that we can have more positive relationships in the future.
The last (and most important) thing you can do to help deal losing someone you still love is go back to your roots.
Find the person you were before the relationship and go ahead and start exploring that person again. Reconnect with the people and hobbies you used to love and spend some time taking care of you.
Although a loss is always going to be difficult, remember that this too shall pass. Try to look at your last relationship as less of rejection, and more just a problem with compatibility. Someone who seems perfect may not be perfect for you, and that’s okay.
Health and Wellness Expert, Maple Holistics
Physically and mentally let them go
When you love someone, you want to hold on to them, even if they don’t feel the same way.
The only way you’ll ever be able to let them go is if you physically and mentally let them go. You simply need them to be out of your life.
There is no such thing as actual closure, the only way you’ll ever feel better is if you spend an indefinite time apart from them. Block them on your phone and on all social media.
You don’t need constant reminders of how they are doing just fine without you.
It may sound extreme, but you’re addicted to this person and the only way to treat addiction is to quit them cold-turkey.
You also need to believe that you will find love again. After all, there is plenty of fish in the sea.
Even if you feel like you’ve met everyone, there are still many that you haven’t. You never really had the chance to look while you were obsessing over the person who will never love you as you love them. It may take your newly single, unattached eyes to find your next true love…maybe even your future spouse.
Health and Wellness Expert, Glacier Wellness
While being in love can alter your ability to stay objective, it’s essential that you put your needs first.
In cases of mismatched couples, there’s no good reason to stick around and let yourself get hurt further. I recommend evaluating the situation and determining if they truly don’t love you back or if they are simply experiencing doubts or facing other difficulties in their life.
If they aren’t interested in a relationship, it’s crucial that you let go and put your needs first. If you don’t love yourself, then how can you truly exist in a healthy relationship?
If you really love yourself, then you know that getting hung up on a lost hope will only hurt you.