There are two big questions that readers have grappled with recently: How do I let go of the guy that didn’t reciprocate my feelings? How do I let go of the guy that I didn’t actually have a relationship with?
In essence, how do you let go of a one-sided attraction — a relationship that doesn’t exist?
For a start, you can’t ‘break up’ when there isn’t a relationship to break up from. The only person you have to break up with is you (and your overactive imagination and feelings).
The issue here isn’t really about ‘him’ (or her), as they’re not really part of the equation when you’ve created an illusion rather than keeping your feet in the real world. The issue is about you not wanting to let go of your feelings, your obsession, your drama.
There are four key reasons for finding yourself needing to let go of a relationship that doesn’t exist:
You are a queen of projection.
You choose men that cater to your own negative self-fulfilling prophecy and that are likely to leave you ‘crushing’ on them. And then you project the feelings you think you have onto them and assume that they should feel and perceive similarly to you. You want them to notice you, to see you in the way that you see them. But the majority of this stuff is in your head, so you haven’t communicated with them. And then you wonder why they haven’t reciprocated your feelings.
You think that your feelings are big enough for the two of you.
In losing all sense of proportion, you become so consumed by how you feel that you want them to be swept up in all the love you have to give. You hope that one day he’ll catch up to how you feel and return it. Trust me, they don’t.
You don’t actually want to be in a relationship and are emotionally unavailable.
Living in a dream world feels safer than the rejection you fear in the real world. In choosing men who are aloof and unlikely to be interested, you avoid having to be hurt in the way you fear. Instead, you build sandcastles in the sky in your mind and then feel rejected by your own daydreams. In reality, you need some sort of inspiration for these illusions, and he’s not a part of your life.
You don’t want to let go.
As many of us have discovered, even if it’s the most toxic thing to continue feeling as we do or to be involved with someone, we continue. It’s a bit like “I’ve started, so I’ll finish” but also because even when there is nothing, or it’s crumbs, we don’t want to let go. It’s the “some crumbs is better than no crumbs” mentality. We don’t want to get real with ourselves in case we find that we have something difficult or painful to look at. We don’t want to admit that we’re often creators of our own pain, and we certainly don’t want to admit that we’re letting go of something that didn’t exist (or that didn’t exist to the degree we imagined).
Remember: it’s a bit difficult to make someone accountable for something that’s a grand illusion in your head when you could be holding them accountable for real behaviours. Likewise, you can’t wonder why someone isn’t being and feeling what you want them to when they’re not part of the relationship [in your head].
These men become the inspiration for our latest round of feelings. They contribute a little at the beginning, and then we just take it from there. We refuse to acknowledge whether they are there or not and whether they’re acting in line in with the image in our mind, and if not, why not.
Any misery you are feeling is, for the most part, your own creation. That’s not to say that there might not be some shadiness on their part such as taking advantage of your feelings, but it’s critical to compassionately acknowledge that keeping your feet in reality hasn’t been high on your agenda. You’re swimming in illusions.
Due to focusing on the picture in your head, you haven’t heeded signs that you need to get real.
In fact, the object of your affections may have no clue about your interest. Or if they do, and have expressed their lack of interest, you’ve switched to unreciprocated feelings mode. You’ve hovered, hoping that they’ll finally “see” you and catch up with your feelings.
It doesn’t matter what they feel; you’re only interested in your feelings and them being matched.
The thing is, from the moment that you recognise that 1) your feelings aren’t reciprocated and/or 2) that you’re not in a relationship [with them], your body and mind will try to communicate this to you. If you’re still obsessing and trying to get them to reciprocate over an extended period of time, it’s a sign that you’re ignoring your intuition and fear.
It’s one thing to have a crush. And it’s another to crush yourself in a self-destructive pursuit of pain. And then blame it on someone else.
If you’ve made the choice to continue loving and chasing this person based on illusions while you wait for crumbs or nothing at all, you’re on an avoidance mission.
It’s like you want to hide away on these self-created feelings of rejection. You think there’s no risk if you’re not in a real relationship.
Sometimes, a person can mislead us to believe that they feel more than they do. That said, in situations where you need to let go of a relationship that didn’t exist, it tends to be that you were crazy about this person and didn’t want to let the feelings (or the fantasy) go.
You’ve decided that you want and love him/her. And to hell with it, you’ll find a way to show them that they should notice and love you too. You’re gonna ride this imaginary donkey of love till it collapses.
As humans, we tend to behave as if our feelings create an automatic IOU.
In unhealthy relationships and/or where fantasy is present, we love without any foundation for love. And then we refuse to opt out. We don’t want to let go of the fantasy or the illusion and get real so that we confront our issues
If you’re trying to let go of a relationship that didn’t exist, it’s a message from life that you’re in pain. You’ve engaged in self-destructive behaviour and repeatedly created a rejection situation for yourself, and then wondered why you’re in pain. Yes, it’s hard to admit that you have made a series of decisions that led to this juncture, but recognising it is the beginning of healing.
The only way that these situations end is when you end them. You don’t need to say anything. In all honesty, the other party might be a touch confused if you told them it was “over”. And if they’re shady, they’ll just try to capitalise on your admission. Don’t go there.
- Stop calling, chasing, and texting.
- No more seeing a bread loaf when there’s barely a crumb.
- Stop waiting, hoping, and projecting.
- Stop the madness. That’s the madness of thinking that this is what you have to settle for: an illusionary relationship.
Stop creating drama and then wondering why you are miserable. The truth is, when you don’t feel worthy of better, you create drama to keep yourself down. It doesn’t have to be this way. I know — I used to do it myself.
Commit to being in the real world.
Take things at face value. This means when (s)he doesn’t call, it’s because they don’t want to speak with you. It’s not because they’re waiting for you to make a move. This isn’t chess!
When you don’t hear from them for months, it’s not because you did something wrong. It’s because you are not in a relationship. Whilst you’re daydreaming your life away, they’re out there living theirs.
If you spend your time, energy, effort and emotion wanting people that don’t want you and then obsessing about why they don’t want you, your life will be at a standstill.
If you point blank cannot accept that:
1) it’s mostly in your head,
2) if he doesn’t want you then it’s time for you to start not wanting him, and 3) you’re creating your own drama and pain
…then you must at least take responsibility for where you are right now. It doesn’t need to be about blame and shame. Acknowledge that this is a choice that means that you don’t have to be, do or deal with something.
Talk to a professional.
Working with a therapist or counsellor not only gives you professional support but also helps you to get grounded in the present. Take it a step, a day, at a time. Use this experience as the watershed moment that’s highlighted the need for you to address old pain, fear and guilt.
But if you are at that point where you want to and can do something about this, don’t overcomplicate things. When you let go of a relationship that doesn’t and didn’t exist, you have that power and are in the driving seat of what happens to you. Don’t make out like (s)he has to do something to end this. It’s you that needs to take the step. By bringing you back to the real world and gradually rejecting the fantasy, you will gain perspective. You will get to the heart of why you are engaging in this self-destructive behaviour so that you don’t go back. You will heal.
Ready to reclaim yourself from the cycle of people pleasing and any patterns that reinforce feelings of low self-worth? My new book, The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want (HarperCollins/Harper Horizon), is out now.