Have you ever found yourself in a one-sided relationship? Maybe it's love, may it's lust with a healthy dose of like, but the bottom line is... You feel it, and he doesn't.
So now what?
Do you just try harder? Do you give a little more? Do you decide to change yourself, convinced that will do the trick?
And if you're recently divorced, are you more susceptible to find yourself here - emotionally hung up on a person who doesn't return your feelings?
Some may think that one-sided or "unrequited" love is romantic.
Trust me on this. There's nothing pleasurable or smart about pining for someone who has rebuffed your attentions, or who has stated what he wants - and it isn't you, and it isn't "this."
Accept the relationship for what it is - stay or break it off - but don't drift in a fog of denial.
Vulnerable After Divorce?
It's one thing to fall for someone when we're young and inexperienced, unable to properly read the signs. It's another when we're a little older, with a marriage behind us, but finding ourselves vulnerable again for any number of reasons.
If we were the ones who were "rejected" after divorce, we may throw ourselves back into dating with a vengeance. We may also find ourselves in a rebound relationship - trying desperately to regain a sense of self-worth in what is generally a transitional situation.
When we don't take the time to heal (and assess), aren't we less likely to see a relationship for what it is? And no matter how long it has been, when we're feeling fragile, aren't we more likely to be susceptible to flattery, to kindness, or for that matter - to great sex?
Signs Love Is Mutual
So how do we know that love is mutual - beyond hearing and saying the words? (And most of us know that's no guarantee of the voracity or depth of the feelings involved.)
Here are a few signs that your feelings are shared:
- You feel great when you're together
- He treats you at least as well as a best friend, and you do the same
- There is physical affection - without having to ask for it
- He accepts you for who you are, and respects who you hope to become
- You understand each others' boundaries (work, kids, exes, responsibilities)
- You respect each others' priorities (children, education, financial stability)
- Same or similar level of emotional "need"
- Compatible values that you can actually discuss
- Bedroom dynamics are good (better still, they're great!)
Signs That Love Is One-Sided
Recognizing one-sided love demands that we be adult about our feelings, our observations, and listening to our gut. That doesn't mean we must exit the relationship (necessarily), but we buy our hearts some protection if we understand its limitations.
Signs that love is one-sided include:
- Inattentiveness to what you say or want
- Unequal giving (you make all the compromises)
- He routinely forgets things that are important to you
- In bed, more concerned with pleasure than connection
- What he doesn't say would fill volumes
- Sex is great but talking, not so much
- You want to see him more than he wants to see you
- You want him to meet your friends (or kids); he declines
More Thoughts on the One-Sided Relationship
This source offers 12 signs of being in a one-sided relationship, going beyond some of what I've noted above. Among them are emotional unavailability, constant fighting, and the likelihood that one of you wants a trophy to squire about town.
That last I think of as the "looks good on paper guy." Maybe you convince yourself you're madly in love because what he appears to be (to the outside world) is boosting your flagging self-esteem. And remember what I said about being the one who was rejected? Whether we realize it or not, aren't our first dates and relationships post-divorce in part about restoring our sense of self-worth?
Sure, it helps if we hone our observational skills, improving our ability to read people. Not only should this include hearing what they say (and paying attention), but what they don't - about like, love, and commitment.
It also makes sense to hold a little back. Clinging? Continuing to pursue? Convincing yourself you should wait it out?
Not only is emotional neediness unattractive, but isn't there more appeal when we take our time to reveal who we are? And isn't it smarter to accept the reality of a relationship - when the other party has made it clear?
Coming Back After Unrequited Love
Remember - falling for someone who doesn't feel what you do happens to the best of us. And it doesn't necessarily mean you've fallen for the "wrong" guy either. But it's an indication that you need to pay more attention to what's really taking place, and expectations on both sides.
As for healing from unrequited love, in my experience it's no different than getting through any romantic heartbreak. Each situation offers its own lessons, as we come to appreciate more more about ourselves, about others, and what feels "right."
Where this sort of relationship differs is in recognizing signs and clues that you chose to ignore. And not doing it again!
Beyond that, it's about cutting yourself some slack: We all misread signs, we all allow our hearts to rule our heads, and when we're ready, we put the pieces back together - stronger - and get back out there.