This month, I felt nostalgic watching 90’s sitcoms. One of them happens to be Family Matters, where the main character Steve Urkel destroys everything in his way, and has an admirable crush on Laura Winslow. For nearly a decade, Steve does everything and anything to win Laura’s love but keeps getting rejected by her. This, my friend, is called unrequited love. However, you see never see him feeling down because of it. Realistically, most people would give up and move on yet he never did. Unrequited love deals with rejection, in which we all have experienced. If taken too personally, it can lead to unrealistic expectations and lack of self-worth.
So, why do we take rejection so personally?
Psychologist Guy Winch says that it may have something to do with the way our brains are wired to respond. In one experiment, scientists placed people in MRI machines and asked them to recall a recent rejection they had experienced. They discovered that rejection pain was similar to physical pain. That’s why even small rejections, such as getting picked last in your team, hurts more than it should since it elicits emotional pain. Winch states, “ We call ourselves names, lament our shortcomings, and feel disgusted with ourselves. In other words, just when our self-esteem is hurting most, we go and damage it even further. “ With that, we believe that we don’t belong anywhere. We feel pitiful and sorry for ourselves.
More so, responding this way may go back to the time we were hunter-gatherers. Since we couldn’t survive alone, we needed all the emotional, physical and mental support of our tribes. However, if we were ostracized from our tribes, then that meant we had to go on our own even though it wasn’t something we were ready for.
Ways unrequited love could be hurting you.
Daydreaming- We daydream so we wouldn’t cause any inconvenience to anyone else. The inconvenience could be unintentionally hurting or embarrassing our crush without them knowing that we have feelings for them. When we daydream, we avoid these hazards by only wishing and dreaming for the best. We manipulate our daydreams by what we wish would come true than what actually comes true.
Cluelessness-We may have a generalized idea of who they are, yet we don’t really know who they are. We are not after accurate information of what it would be like to coexist with this person. In other words, we don’t really want to know how they behave outside of who we perceive them to be. We may fear that we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.
Be easy on yourself.
I highly advise you to do this. This is a touchy and complicated topic. We ALL have been through this, someone we love doesn’t love us back and vice versa. If you are dealing with someone you like and they don’t like you back, I would suggest listening to Yuna-Unrequited Love. Her soothing voice speaks solely to what you may have encountered in your own experience. If you are the one who isn’t reciprocating someone’s love back, let them down gently. This person has spent a lot of time thinking about you. Be direct but don’t be rude. And whatever you do, do NOT mess with their emotions…you know, by leading them on and then leaving them off. If you do that, then as a licensed therapist, I would encourage them to tell you what I am going to tell you, “Go home! Go home! Go home!” In which, you simply don’t have to take it. You are free to go home.