When they don’t — or can’t — love you back

What loving someone who didn’t love me back taught me about, well, love…

Unrequited love hurts. Seeing potential in someone — in something — when they can’t see it in themselves, hurts. So how do you let go, move on, and find the lesson amidst the heartbreak?

Yep, sometimes it stinks.

Firstly, you have to get to the bottom of how you could love someone who doesn’t love you back. Why you thought it was OK to keep turning up, day after day trying to convince someone that you were “enough”.

To move on and to move forward, you need to get to the guts of what drove you to such behaviour in the first place.

So I asked myself the question, “What kind of soul-destroying neanderthal does that…?”

Why did I keep turning up for someone who was incapable of doing the same for me? Is it because I’m stubborn? Because I refuse to give up? Because I think that if I just do one more thing it might be the thing that changes everything?

Is it because I think — after everything I’ve gone through — maybe an “almost love” is good enough?

Look, it might be a combination of all those things, but in the end, it’s about realising the only thing you have control over is yourself. Your own feelings, your own dreams, your own standards, and ultimately, your own reactions to what you face in this life.

And so without absolute clarity over why I kept turning up, I simply made the decision to stop.

When something is no longer serving you; when the bad outweighs the good; when the uncertainty and second-guessing and waiting become too much to carry… it’s time to draw the line.

There’s no point in throwing a tantrum, wishing things were different, bargaining with yourself or others, or continuing to turn up hoping “things will be different this time”.

The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. So I chose to stop being stupid.

In the last five years I’ve experienced more heartache than in the previous 30 combined. Infidelity, divorce, having to share my only son, a lost child, witnessing my son become a brother (via another mother), a love affair that ended with rock-bottom self-esteem, a redundancy from a job I absolutely loved, and to top it all off, the experience of unrequited love.

Now before you pull out the violin and throw me a little pity party, that’s not why I mention those experiences. The reason I bring it up is to highlight the fact that despite all of these experiences— or perhaps because of them — I still have a big, beautiful, open heart that just wants to give and receive love. Yes, a little bruised and battered — a bit like my ‘post-baby’ body — but beautiful all the same.

And do you know why my heart remains open and ready? Because love (real love) shouldn’t be scary or uncertain or nerve-wracking. Sure, nothing is ever certain in this world, but something as beautiful as giving and receiving love should never be confusing, or hard or doubtful.

Love is not something to fear. It is, in fact, the very opposite of fear.

Those who are scared of relationships, or unable to commit to another, are simply not ready to receive love.

And they’re certainly not ready to give it. For whatever reason…

Perhaps their heart still belongs to another. Perhaps they don’t love themselves enough to understand they’re worthy. And nothing you can say or do will change that.

But one thing is for certain — when you’re ready, and you’re with the right person, love shouldn’t fill you with fear. It should fill you with light, and joy, and the desire to be the best version of yourself so you can help them to do the same.

Hollywood has done a job on us all. Those fictional ideals of love portrayed in films are flawed to the core. Love is not grand gestures or sweeping monologues. It’s not 100 red roses or a puppy for Christmas. It’s not their hands on your cheeks, noses touching… #RomanceMoviePosterFormula

Love is being there. Showing up. Not talking, but doing. Not empty words, but full actions. Love is not saying you will be there, it’s turning up.

Love is not, “Call me if you need anything” – it’s, “What do you need? I’m coming”.

Love is not blind. Love is seeing someone — and all of their flaws — and choosing them anyway. Every day.

And love is never one-sided. There should never be a scorecard in the game of love. The moment you start keeping score, it might be time to choose another teammate.

Chronic over-sharer. Graphic language lover. Aspiring coffee addict. Highly functioning single person. Mum. Animal enthusiast. Don’t like much music post 1989.

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