It's the classic tale of a person falling in love with another, but the loved not feeling the same way. It's all the same in unreciprocated love. You wonder how another person could possibly not feel the same way for you as you do for them; how another person could resist your irresistibly cute tendencies and next-level flirtation skills. But that's reality, the obvious truth you're too blind to see through awestruck eyes.
It's hard to decide which part of an unreciprocated love is the worst: falling into it, dwelling in it, getting over it, or repeating it all over again. There are a number of reasons why unreciprocated love becomes a pattern in your dating lifestyle, and even more to explain why it takes a lifetime of choosing the wrong ones to find the right one.
For more on this phenomenon, I turned to experts Tracee Dunblazier, GC-C, spiritual empath, and author of "The Demon Slayer's Handbook" series; Toni Coleman, LCSW, CMC, psychotherapist and relationship coach; April Masini, relationship and etiquette expert and popular media resource; and Dee Wagner, MS, LPC, BC-DMT, and co-author of "Naked Online: A Dozen Ways to Grow from Internet Dating."
Here are nine things it says about your personality to always end up in an unreciprocated love.
1. You Enjoy The Thrill Of The Chase
"People pursue apparently unavailable love interests because they like the chase and aren’t prepared to receive the love and attention they think they want," Dunblazier says simply. Why do you enjoy the chase? Revelation of the year: It's fun! It's human nature to want what you can't have, and when someone makes it hard to get close, your curiosity is heightened, along with desire and interest.
Coleman further explains this, saying, "Groucho Marx once said, 'I wouldn't join a country club that would have me as a member.' By this, he meant that if the country club wanted him, there must be something wrong with it. People who pursue relationships with those who are unavailable or uninterested do so because it helps them to feel better about themselves if they can attract and hold on to that person. This also works in reverse, in that they reject those who are interested in them because there must be something wrong with the person if they are pursuing them."
It's an achievement to "win someone over," per say; whereas, if it comes easily, it doesn't quite feel as rewarding.
2. Repressed Emotions Lead To Relationship Patterns
"[Falling into unreciprocated love] is usually based on unprocessed grief from other experiences that you unconsciously create in a new situation in order to have another opportunity to grieve," Dunblazier explains.
To further justify this point, Coleman adds, "Patterns are common when it comes to the type of person that someone is attracted to and chooses to date/be in a relationship with. It may be influenced by several things including childhood relationship role models, an addiction to a healthy characteristic or trait that is familiar (and therefore 'comfortable'), and/or this attraction meets an unmet need or contributes to belief that the person will balance or complete them in some way."
In other words, while you might not realize it, a past experience that has not been properly grieved or processed might lead to recreating the experience in an effort to relive the familiar and to handle it differently.
"You can change the pattern by grieving and healing previous experiences. Grief brings us into our most present place with our heart and feelings," Dunblazier suggests. Heal before moving forward, and you will happen upon healthy relationships.
3. You Are Not Wholly Confident In Yourself
"Spiritually speaking, when we have deep, unreciprocated connections, it’s because we are learning about ourselves through another person by having to love someone without conditions. ... People who have this pattern should know that they are already whole and loved completely. They need nothing else to be complete. Once you embrace this level of self-love, other people’s bad behavior becomes obvious. Allowing you to take personal responsibility for the choices you make," according to Dunblazier.
It's important to establish your own self-worth and value yourself through and through for who you are before seeking the love of another. Once you have done this, you will confidently know what you need in a partner, which will weed out the prospects who aren't right for you and help you to avoid unreciprocated love altogether.
4. You're A Giver, A Healer, A Lover
"[People who fall into unreciprocated love] need to understand what these relationships do for them, what needs they meet and why. Only then would they be able to see how these relationships don't serve healthy needs and will not help them to find the completeness and happiness they seek. ... Once they have some good self-awareness, they can begin to approach dating in a conscious and deliberate way, driven by good and healthy choices. Until they understand this, they will most likely continue in this unhealthy pattern," Coleman suggests.
To reiterate the point above, having a conscious awareness of your innate qualities and weaknesses when it comes to being taken advantage of in romantic relationships is crucial to your own self-protection from heartbreak.
"When people are easy going and don’t need success or look for it, they may be okay about not getting love back. Some people may sour on love when they fall in love with enough partners who don’t return their feelings. Bitterness is a problem with serial unreciprocated loves," Masini states.
While you may consider yourself a lover in every sense of the word, giving too much and not getting back what you give into a relationship is an unhealthy balance and will not result in your happiness.
5. Your Mind Prioritizes Fantasy Over Reality
"[Unreciprocated love] is not always by intent – in fact, it happens every time someone falls for someone who just does not feel the same way. While this is actually fairly common, it becomes a problem when the person pursues their love interest and due to timing or persistence, they end up in a relationship. These relationships often end in heartbreak when the person who doesn't have the same commitment wants out and/or finds someone they have those feelings for. ... [Someone who finds unreciprocated love] seeks out the person, often actively pursues them, and makes it convenient or too easy for the other person to resist. They view the making of a commitment as their end goal, and for them, just having this relationship is what they are focused on – not whether it is healthy or mutually satisfying," Coleman states.
In an unreciprocated love, it's likely a person will find themselves so caught up in the chase and mission to win over the apple of their eye that they lose sight of why they think this person is right for them and what a relationship with this person would realistically look like. If you find yourself head over heels for someone who doesn't feel the same way, ask yourself what it would be like to date this individual: Would it be healthy? Would you trust this person? Would it be mutually loving?
Dunblazier revitalizes this point in her own words, saying, "When you’re ‘livin’ the dream,' you’re not seeing a person or situation as it is in this reality. Often, you’re missing out on some vital facts that when come to light, change everything. People relive a certain dynamic over and over again, ultimately to change themselves in it. Once they’ve made the necessary change, the circumstances seem to fall away."
6. You're In Search Of A Relationship, Not A Partner
"For someone who seeks out such a relationship, it's all about having accomplished their goal of being in this relationship. Their focus is on having a relationship as opposed to finding that right person that complements them, brings out the best in them, and completes them," Coleman tells Bustle via email.
To trail the point above, when you seek out a certain individual, it becomes your subconscious goal to win this person over and end up in a relationship. There is no forethought beyond that point. Rather than aiming to win someone over, make it your goal to weed out the people who aren't right for you and find the one who is.
7. You Subconsciously Accept The Love You Think You Deserve
"Sometimes people don’t feel that they deserve good love, so they chase after people they know will hurt them. It’s not always a fully conscious set of decisions, but you probably know people who keep choosing partners who treat them poorly — over and over again. When those people decide they want to be treated properly, they’ll start choosing different dates. But until that time, they’ll stay on the learning curve they’re on, even if it’s a slow grade up," Masini says.
Whether you fully believe in the Stephen Chbosky quote, "We accept the love we think we deserve," or not, there is some level of truth to the statement. Albeit subconsciously, it's likely you keep finding yourself in toxic relationships because the pattern has led you to believe this is what love looks like. It may take a long time to experience true love, but with experience and conscious desire, you'll get there.
8. You Haven't Hit Your Breaking Point
"People tend to behave for a reason. Sometimes it’s to feel good — or to stop feeling bad. They may change behavior because what they’re doing makes them feel badly enough to want to switch things up. Sometimes people see someone else they want to emulate and change behavior to evolve in that way. So if someone keeps finding unrequited love, it’s because they haven’t hit that point where they really want to make changes in their own behavior so they can find that love that is returned. When they do hit that point, they will make changes," Masini explains.
Despite family and friends advising you to aim higher and set better standards in your dating life, change will come only when you decide for yourself that it's time. If you haven't had your heart broken or been emotionally devastated by love quite yet, it's possible you will continue on this path until you reach that breaking point.
9. You Seek Out The Familiar, As Learned From Your Parents
"We are operating out of nervous system wiring that got started at birth. That is not to say that we cannot rewire ourselves. Recognizing faulty wiring is the first step in rewiring. ... Those of us who grow up with parents who cannot be what we need for all the good reasons that parents sometimes cannot be what their children need, feel attracted to lovers who are not good at relating. It feels familiar," Wagner tells me via email.
It's true: You are attracted to a partner who leans towards the same qualities as either of your parents. This applies whether or not you considered your mother or father to be particularly good or poor at parenting, and it translates to their love language, their communication skills, their personality, etc. It's what's familiar and comfortable that attracts.
Wagner further explains, "An anxious lover is attracted to an avoidant lover because that avoidance feels similar to the mismatch of infancy. The distance that avoidant lovers need creates more anxiousness in the anxious lover and the dance gets more and more chaotic. 'You're not into me' is literal. The avoidant lover pulls away, turns away and maybe toward someone else. The anxious lover takes it personally." This "game" of sorts emulates a cat-and-mouse scenario where the more avoidant a potential suitor, aka the mouse, the more persistent you, aka the cat, become.
Unreciprocated love does not happen but choice, but it's viable that your past experiences have led you to this point, and it's inevitable it should happen again over the long string of loves you will have in your lifetime. The key to finding that one good love you won't ever want to lose is to be good to yourself before setting out to give your all to anyone else. Discover the qualities of a partner you need to satisfy your needs and match all that you have to offer; someone who will make life sweeter and you less bitter towards falling in love.