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Unrequited love -- loving someone without being loved in return. In this video I describe five types of unrequited love and I suggest ways to heal heartache. There are other solutions recommended by this site:
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"I wanted so badly to lie down next to her on the couch, to wrap my arms around her and sleep...But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend..."


Unrequited love: almost a universal experience. Research by social psychologist Dr. Baumeister found that among the 155 participants, 98% of them experienced 1 or both sides of unrequited love- loving someone who doesn't return or reciprocate our feelings, on average once per dating year. Charlie Brown says it can take the taste out of peanut butter. It can also harm the one loving and the one being loved. So let me "sexplain" what it is and how to treat it.

The word "unrequited" comes from the 15th century "requite" meaning repay or clear up debts. "Unrequited," then, means not paid back. No wonder why some people have it in their heads that they're owed something for their love. I'll get back to that.

First, Bringle, Winnick, and Rydell's research from 2013 that studied unrequited love's nature and prevalence. They describe unrequited love as 5 subcategories:
1. a crush on someone unavailable- like fangirls to Connor Franta
2. a crush on someone nearby without initiating a romantic relationship- like a coworker, lab partner- Xander and Buffy
3. pursuing a love object- Pepé Le Pew enamored with a cat, Penelope. He's into her but she's making all sorts of attempts to get away. "Falling upward" is part of this subcategory too, where the pursuant wants someone of higher desirability than offered. Kind of like Phantom of the Opera
4. longing for a past lover- someone you're familiar with. Maybe you didn't want the relationship to end in the first place- "saudade." Maybe, what leading love expert Dr. Helen Fisher calls "frustration attraction", where you don't like them, but because they don't like you, the love gets turned up
and 5. an unequal love relationship where partners love each other differently- in different ways, to different degrees- that's Peeta and Katniss

There certainly isn't a shortage of examples of unrequited love: Cyrano and Roxanne; Edward and Kim; Olivia, Orsino, Viola; Thomas Barrow and James Kent; Martha and the Doctor; Snape- eh eh I'm not spoiling that one.

What we are missing is the reality of the romance. The same study that delineated between these 5 types of unrequited love says it is "not a good simulation of true romantic love, but an inferior approximation of that ideal." Unrequited love, in all its forms, is less passionate, less committed, less practical, than mutual, equal love, as well as more tumultuous. The French refer to "la douler exquise," or the heart-wrenching pain of wanting someone you can't have.

So let's say this doesn't sound appealing to you. How do we avoid it? How do you cure it? 2,000 years ago the Roman poet Ovid wrote an 815-line answer called "Remedia Amoris," or "The Cure for Love." He writes, "You could not change the commands of your heart," and suggests rest, travel, abstaining from alcohol, enjoying the countryside, enjoying multiple lovers, and not reading love poems! Great list, Ovid.

I would add introspection: How does unrequited love serve you? Is this a pattern? Maybe an ambivalent-anxious attachment pattern? Sometimes we chose people who will not or cannot love us simply to have control over out own rejection. Sometimes, in feeling unlovable, we look for people who are emotionally unavailable to fulfill our own self-doubt. Check yourself here.

Then, cultivate compassion. Your experience is very human! Unrequited love, as painful as it is, does mean that you're capable of loving. Find friends and volunteer opportunities who want this love. Be of service to other who are struggling.

Seek the help of a professional. What did the psychiatrist say to the man who walked into her office wearing nothing but saran wrap? I can clearly see you're (your) nuts. Laughing is one of the cheapest and fastest ways to treat co-dependence, or a sort of relationship addiction where you rely on others to feel better. Laughter helps to detach from the relationship-feel-goods because you have the laughing-feel-goods.

Acknowledge that you're going through a challenging experience and load up on self care. Physically sick- you'd get rest and take it easy. Love sick- same things, except, you don't need to quarantine yourself. You can celebrate you and your independence. Take a vacation from enamoring. Go on the trip that Ovid prescribes. Learn a new language. Have an adventure. There's more ideas in the description.

Unrequited love is, ultimately, love. So the simplest solution I have is to love the other person just as they are: a human unable to change the commands of their own heart. Dr. Baumeister found that the pursued person experiences even more frustration, bewilderment, guilt, anger, and anxiety than the pursuer. Unrequited love can be traumatic to the one being loved, even more so in cases where there's harassment and intrusion, like "Why don't you love me?", "What can I do to make you love me?"

If you're the recipient of unrequited love, lot's of self care to you too. Ask for help. Keep people around you who can look out for you and set boundaries. Meet with a therapist. Call a hotline. Tell your own silly jokes. If the person who likes you isn't a threat, be honest. Tell them you don't feel the same way, and then give them space so they can grieve. It's not your fault. You don't owe them anything- not an explanation, not an apology, or a relationship. Despite that etymology of "unrequited" suggesting you owe something, you don't. Our culture is riddled with examples of "boy falls in love with girl, girl says 'no', boy pursues anyway" (I'm speaking statistically, not heteronormatively). We have examples of the chase, the hunt, and the wooing, but not so many of the rejection.

Usually I say "stay curious" and hope that you go investigate on your own- maybe examples of rejection. Today, though, my hope is that we all become healthy examples of rejection. That we reject with confidence, and we receive those rejections with grace. That we create for our communities permission to be loved without owing anything in return. That we are the evidence that unrequited love can be natural without being hurtful.

Thank you to everyone who participated in Project for Awesome, our Patreon supporters, viewers of this channel. I love you. If you can afford to give to sex education on Patreon, I have a special something to everyone who signs up by December 31st to give $5 or more a month in 2016. 

Budadubababa. What? I'm gonna have to do that again. Ther-uh- blah. eh eh. Glitch.