Hey um could please give advice on writing unrequited love? I'm working on a project and I'm stumped!
Guide: Writing Unrequited Love
What is Unrequited Love?
Unrequited love is when someone develops romantic feelings for a person who does not share those feelings. While it's possible for someone to have platonic love for someone that's not returned, when we talk about "unrequited love," we are always talking about unrequited romantic love.
What is the Difference Between a One-Sided Crush and Unrequited Love?
One-sided crushes and unrequited love are often conflated, but they're actually two different things. Whereas a crush is superficial because it develops quickly based on limited interaction and knowledge of the person, love is deeper because it develops over time with someone you actually know and interact with often. One-sided crushes can develop into unrequited love.
What is the Difference Between Unrequited Love and Forbidden Love?
Unrequited love and forbidden love are also two things that are often conflated, but the difference is that forbidden love is mutual--both people want to reciprocate the love, but reciprocation is constrained or prevented due to circumstances beyond their control. For example, there may be social or religious differences keeping them apart, or one person may be in a relationship they're not ready to leave despite their feelings for the other person.
With unrequited love, on the other hand, the only thing preventing reciprocation is that the other person isn't interested.
Can reciprocated love become unrequited over time?
Yes. When romantic feelings are mutual and love is returned, but the reciprocation of that love diminishes and disappears over time, that's still a form of unrequited love. However, this version of unrequited love is quite different from the kind where there was never mutual love in the first place. While these two versions of unrequited love share some emotional aspects in common, mutual love that turned unrequited comes with its own unique set of issues. In fiction, when we talk about unrequited love, we're usually talking about the kind where the love was never mutual, though both kinds are often portrayed in fiction.
What Does Unrequited Love Feel Like for the One Who Loves?
they think about the other person constantly
they fantasize about being in a relationship with them
they're deeply hopeful the love will eventually be returned
they long for and search out interaction with the person
they long for and reach for physical touch with the person
they want to know everything about the other person
they constantly look for signs of interest from the other person
they often feel they're getting mixed signals from the other person
they're deeply jealous when other person shows interest in another
they're hurt or offended when others point out futility of situation
they discount signs of person's affection for someone else
they find ways to mentally invalidate person's real relationship
they put the person on a pedestal and can't see their flaws
they believe they are destined to be with the other person
What's Going On that the One Who Loves Can't See?
the other person isn't thinking or fantasizing about them
the other person will never return their love
they do not seek or desire interaction or physical touch
interactions are viewed neutrally or are not desired
physical touch is viewed neutrally or is not desired
interest in "getting to know" one another is platonic or absent
"mixed signals" are just signs that are misinterpreted
there are no actual signs of romantic interest being shown
the person is not perfect and has flaws that are being disregarded
the person may have feelings for another or be in a relationship
What Does Unrequited Love Feel Like for the Other Person?
Sometimes "the person who doesn't love" is so disinterested, they never realize the other person has feelings for them. Other times they figure it out or are alerted to the situation by the person who loves them or someone else. When they know about it, they may:
feel pressured to return other person's feelings
feel burdened by knowledge of those feelings
feel doubtful, questioning why they don't return other's feelings
feel that something is wrong with them for not returning feelings
feel guilty for not being able to return person's feelings
feel awkward interacting with that person from then on
feel sad that they're causing them pain by not reciprocating
feel torn between maintaining connection and ending it
In some cases, the knowledge of that love--even if not returned--can present an unhealthy situation on both sides, because the one who is loved may:
be flattered by the interest and want to encourage it
feel validated by the person's love and become dependent on it
fear rejecting person in case no one else ever loves them
feel safe and secure in the person's love and not want to part ways
cave to the pressure/expectation and fake reciprocation
string the one who loves them along in case own feelings change
How Does the One Who Loves Cope/Move On?
let go of illusions
be honest about lack of reciprocation/interest
take person off the pedestal and acknowledge their flaws
remove self from other's presence/cease interactions
distract self with hobbies, travel, meeting new people
go on some dates
practice self-love/investing in self
spend time grieving situation
seek help/support from family/friends, therapy, support group
How is the Situation Resolved?
Unrequited love situations can be resolved a number of ways:
one who is loved confronts other and ask them to move on
one who is loved removes themself from situation
one who is loved starts relationship with someone else
one who loves realizes futility and moves on of own accord
one who loves moves on with help/support from others
one who loves loses their feelings for the other person
one who loves falls in love with someone else
situation becomes mutually awkward/upsetting and both move on
Pitfalls to Avoid When Portraying Unrequited Love
*** REMEMBER... the following does not apply to relationships where love was once reciprocated, or reciprocation was faked or implied but never truly existed.
implying that unrequited love must eventually be requited
vilifying the person who does not requite the person's love
romanticizing behaviors that are obsessive, possessive, or stalking
portraying the "one who loves" as a failure or loser
romanticizing situations that are unhealthy for one or both parties
Good luck with your story!
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