Updated: Sep 17, 2019
Many of us have suffered the agonising pangs of an unrequited love, or the pain when our love story didn't work out as we’d hoped it would. From the agony of a teenage crush to the painful demise of a full blown relationship, it's nothing unusual to have despaired at least once over the state of our love life.
But what about when those feelings become a little too intense and you just can't let go and move on? The agonising sleepless nights, due to repetitive, racing thoughts, not to mention all those occasions you've replayed situations, conversations, real or imaginary, in your head over and over again. Then there's the exhausting cycle of second guessing, looking for hidden meaning in words, looking for hidden meaning in silences. The obsessive and incessant chatting about the loved one to friends, to the point where they begin to clam-up or hyper-ventilate at the mere mention of the topic. If this sounds like you, or perhaps someone you know and you're looking for some tips for moving forward, then read on.
Hold Back On The Make-over: Firstly, when on the receiving end of rejection there may be a temptation to think that if only you could change some aspect of yourself or fix a disliked or imagined "flaw" in your physical appearance then everything else in your world will miraculously change for the better too. So begins the excessive dieting, the restyling, the shopping for new clothes, all in the hope that somehow the loved one will wake up to the error of their ways and see you in a new, much more favourable light. Now, admittedly, from time to time it's great to update our look, getting an image overhaul and of course losing/gaining a few pounds when you need to can make a huge difference to both our physical and mental health, however, what happens if you are making these changes to gain someone else's approval and your efforts to impress them fall flat? Chances are your self-esteem will plummet even further, you see, that's the problem if you're depending on another's approval for validation. So, our rule number one: think carefully before making any drastic decisions, and check your motive, change is only good when you are doing it for YOU.
Quit Going To Extremes, Balance Is Everything:
Sure the odd indulgence can be lovely, however, sweet and salt cravings can be a response to the stress we feel when in emotional pain. Compulsive behaviour can manifest itself through sub-conscious coping mechanisms such as shopping to excess or anaesthetising through alcohol and drugs, all aimed at delivering immediate (albeit temporary) relief from hurt. Similarly, over-exercising/dieting, extreme partying and working 24/7 can be other methods used to "work through" the situation when in fact, more often than not, this behaviour is only masking the situation, consequently storing up emotional and physical problems for later.
Steady...Go Easy On The Dating Apps! Once upon a time online dating was viewed as the last resort of the lonely and desperate. How times have changed! These days apps such as Tinder and Match.com are considerably more mainstream, with Tinder alone, since its launch in 2012, now boasting around 50 million profiles, about 10 million daily users and receiving approx 1.6 million ''swipes" a day.
Finding yourself free and single the urge may be to start downloading such apps and commence binge-liking anyone who looks half decent. Remember, online dating can be a positive experience as long as you protect your boundaries. Giving you access to a huge number of people, it’s only natural that once the chatting starts you'll soon discover not everyone is going to rock your boat and vice versa! Indeed, it can be a minefield, even more so just after a break up or rejection when you're still grieving and trying to take your mind off the loved one by seeking out someone else. So here are a couple of points to consider if you're about to take the plunge:
There's no hurry! While it's great to look to the future and start moving forward, it's also important to realise that you might not meet the one straight off. Keep an open mind, spend some time chatting and get to know people a bit prior to arranging dates.
Above all, on your profile and while chatting, be honest from the beginning about your feelings and your needs. There's no shame in sharing your expectations, and certainly, not everyone will want what you want, but it may help avoid any misunderstandings later down the line. Er....but won't people think I'm too intense/just up for fun? Possibly, but the alternative is pairing off and meeting up with someone whose agenda is opposed to yours, potentially resulting in a soul-destroying, ego-bashing experience for you or them.
Let The Past Be: Honestly, as comforting as it might feel in the short term, connecting and messaging any ex is rarely a good idea, particularly just after you've broken up! There was clearly something not working in the relationship for you to now be apart so never mistake loneliness and physical compatibility as anything more than just that, especially when it comes to hooking up with an ex-partner. It's also worth bearing in mind that if you still harbour emotional ties to this person then without saying a word, once you slip back between those sheets on a casual basis, not only are you telling them that you're prepared to accept what crumbs they may offer, you could also be cheating yourself out of the loving and fulfilling relationship waiting for you elsewhere!
Do not (repeatedly) contact mutual friends and the loved one's family: Surely one of the hardest aspects of a break up or unrequited love is the fact that the process of recovery also means losing other members of your immediate circle and this too can be painful. There may be a lingering temptation to hang out with the loved one's friends or worse still ask them for any inside info they might have about their new life and activities. Don't do it! It's disrespectful to your friends and it will almost certainly jeopardise your relationship with them! In addition telling your loved one's mum about what they've done to you certainly won't win you any fans, and dragging friends into any disputes is quite likely to get you blacklisted from any future invites. If you can't trust yourself then take a step back or hang out with other friends. Make an effort to enjoy some you time, travel, read, listen to music. Healing requires self-care and this should be your priority.
Quit Obsessing Over Their Social Media:
This one is difficult, and we're the first to admit how tempting it can be to check what our exes and crushes are up to and with whom. So if you're still clinging to the ties you have with them on social media and finding yourself spending way too long on their page or waiting for their updates it might be wise to hit the unfollow button, or if the prospect of cutting social media ties altogether is too much for you to bear, perhaps limit your screen-time or consider taking a social media detox.
"I can't help myself" I hear you cry, well you wouldn't be the first to feel this way. If constant viewing of their life without you is so painful and this is seriously causing you distress then it's time to consider deleting any numbers and blocking. Yes, agreed, it's a more extreme option, but if it's the only way you can control your compulsion to check, post or message then it needs to be done.
Recovery: Fall In Love With Yourself.
Do Take Time For Some Soul Searching:The truth is, if you have to constantly prove yourself to someone in order to be deemed worthy of their acceptance then perhaps there's a deeper, underlying issue at the root of this. Consider chatting to a therapist who can help you work through any emotions, for real love doesn't carry a price tag, or conditions, it involves mutual respect and acceptance. Are you not worthy to be loved for what you are? Again, ask yourself, would you advise your best friend or your child suffering from the pangs of unrequited love to tie themself in knots in order to make another person happy? If the answer is "no" then why would you do it?
Final Word: Losing someone we love can really take a toll on our confidence levels and in turn this makes us feel powerless and frightened. Doubting ourselves we can become reluctant to leave the point at which we last felt secure, so we cling on, clutching at our comfort zones. Learning to look forward instead of back requires time, determination and courage. Self-belief is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, it sets you free.
We hope you've found this week's post on the Lifestyle Blog helpful. If you'd like to share any tips for dealing with the topics discussed, we'd love to hear from you!
Until next time,
*Please note, this post is based entirely on the writer's own experience and intended to support and motivate those who have found themselves in a similar position.
If however, you are experiencing pro-longed periods of hopelessness, sadness or suspect you have depression or are receiving treatment for any form of depression, please speak to a professional.
If you wish to reach out, listed below are contacts that may be useful for you to know:
Samaritans: https://www.samaritans.org Call Free:116 123
Sources: Tinder Stats 2018: www.muchneeded.com