She was one of the most beautiful girls I had ever seen in my life. She was a ball of fire and she was mysterious with an attitude of a little diva. She was a cross between an African princess and a quintessential flower girl at a wedding. My intense crush for her developed the minute I spotted her at the head of an assembly line in preparatory school. What did I know? I was only 12 years old.
My little heart was poked, unhinged and it knew no bounds. So here I was, standing in my neatly pressed school uniform; instantly and madly besotted with love for her. I was determined to make her pay attention to me at the first opportunity I got. I found out her name soon enough and oh man, did it sound incredibly romantic to me. Who would not love a girl named Baaba? The big problem was, however, drawing her attention to my shy self. Aha! valentine’s day was just around the corner; p-e-r-f-e-c-t!!
I was a very shy little boy and this crush had driven me utterly mad. I was totally smitten. I started to feel warm and sweaty anytime she came to the classroom. I feared that my poor little heart would beat out of my chest just from trying to steal glances at her. When she missed school, I had a terrible day. Emboldened by my ‘misguided’ adolescent love, I carefully started writing my very first love note. Fifty crumbled notes later, I finally finished the perfect composition or so I thought. My love note read:
Valentine’s day finally arrived. I could not bring myself to approach her directly. I enlisted the help a fellow classmate to deliver my carefully crafted note. He gallantly walked over and gave her the note which she opened immediately without saying a word. She looked up briefly at my friend and he, in turn, directed her gaze to me by pointing a finger in my direction. I am not sure now if she even saw me as I was partially hiding behind a desk overcome with embarrassment. She reached for her pencil and scribbled on my note and handed it back to my friend. “This does not look good!” I muttered to myself. I eagerly grabbed the note the second my friend stretched his arm to hand it to me.
What the French!!!??? Talk of an instantaneous chain reaction! I felt sick, confused and angry. I felt worthless and ugly. I needed a mirror right away. How could I have missed the fact that my head was that big??? And so just like that, I was handed my first crushing rejection.
Every now and then one meets someone and the attraction felt for them is almost instant. There is no choice in the matter really. The attraction just happens and steamrolls over you like strong waves crashing into the shore; it can’t be stopped.
I was recently blindsided by a woman quite unexpectedly and I fell hard. It was a free fall unlike any other that I had experienced, at least in over a decade. I was so enamored of this lady and I thought everything about her was perfect. Life suddenly made sense when I was around her. Anyone who has fallen for someone in this manner knows the magnitude of the burden of uncertainty that comes with it; does she feel the same way about me? Does she like me too? Does she see me and recognize that I am slowly dying for her affection? Does she know she has captured my heart?
The burden of uncertainty I experienced was pure madness. I wanted anything that seemed uncertain to be certain. A Facebook like could be a sign that she liked me back. A glance or a smile could be a sign that she liked me back. If she hugged me and held on a second too long, it was a sign. Falling in love this way is a terrible plague on the brain I think. I was blinded by a cocktail of infatuation and admiration that lace the early stages of falling deeply in love. I only heard what I wanted to hear and saw what I wanted to see. If she smiled at me as a friend, I returned the smile as a lover.
By chance, I found out that she may not have been that into me at all. Indeed, it was my first crush experience in a flooding back determined to haunt me again. Even though I did not hear directly from her regarding her lack of interest, I was still devastated in that moment. I could envision how perfectly matched we could be together. How could she not see what I saw? Before I proceed further, I’d like to point out that this piece has more to do with how I reacted personally to unrequited love and little or nothing to do with her interest in me. Unrequited love does hurt anyway, regardless of how it is presented.
So far in my adult life, I have not experienced any major episodes of unrequited love perhaps due to the fact that I am extremely careful and picky or just by sheer luck. Until recently that is. I am one who does not make a move until I am beyond certain that my affections will be reciprocated. In this case, I was caught off guard and was very ill prepared. In this instance, it was as if I had this myopic vision. I simply could not look out the window without my shadow getting in the way.
At this juncture, I’d like to dispel of the notion that men are emotionless and rejection does not bother or hurt us. Have you paid close attention to President Obama in the last 8 years? How many times has he gotten emotional, choked up or even shed tears? The greatest love poems and stories on rejection and heartbreak were written by men like Shakespeare and Pluto. In 16 B. C., Roman poet Ovid provided advice on how to overcome unrequited love in his Remedia Amoris. Bob Marley made a strong statement about unrequited love with his “Waiting in Vain” song.
Unrequited love affects men and women similarly. Men are just better at concealing emotions and quite well. We are certainly not good at articulating how we feel. We will rather shut down and walk away. We will resort to punching walls and be trashing the room than to sit down and lament about how painful and hurt we are by a rejection. Anyone who does not feel hurt by rejection from true and genuine love has no capacity for human emotions and should be labeled as a sociopath in my opinion.
A man’s brain is wired for action during high emotional situations, whereas a women’s brain is wired for talking things over. Men are most likely to be angry and annoyed when we get rejected. If a man instinctively knows his anger is likely to lead to a physical reaction or violence regrettably, he may stop and simply retreat. In my case, I clammed up and retreated to a corner. I could not fake a smile let alone pretend to be happy. “It is what it is,” I said to myself.
Like most people, I started the process of finding fault with myself, bemoaning all my inadequacies and kicking myself when I was already down. I could not resist pounding my self-esteem into a pulp. I thought I had this love thing all figured out. I thought I knew all the answers. Yet, here I was; too crushed to recognize that blaming myself and attacking my self-worth did little to alleviate the emotional pain I was feeling.
We can recall and experience the pain from an unrequited love more vividly than we can with physical pain. If you’ve smacked your toe against a chair chances are that, your memory will most likely not replay the same level of physical pain should you try to recollect. However, try reliving a painful rejection and you will be flooded with the same intense feelings felt at the time. A song you heard at the time of the rejection or a picture of your love interest can bring back the same level of pain. We delete pictures of a love interest after a rejection. We avoid social media after a rejection. Sound familiar? I am willing to bet that the majority of us go through the same thought process when we are hit with unrequited love.
Romantic love is not always a fun experience and it can be messy. Those who are really in love may understand that they are not entitled to reciprocity from a love interest. In spite of it, they may still be happy for the person even if that means they can’t share in that happiness. Unrequited love is not the end of a relationship if you fall for someone. A person who truly falls for you will not chase you if he or she senses that the affections will not be returned. If leaving you alone is what you desire, they will step away with a heavy heart of course but your happiness will always be paramount.
I have not returned affection to some women in my lifetime; many of them were very much in love with me. I knew it and I could see it. I could make hundreds of sound excuses for not loving them in return but those excuses in no way change the real truth. The heart can’t feel that which is just not there. My personal experience with unrequited love got me thinking about all the women whose affections I could not return. As I dealt with the pain, I suddenly realized that I did not make any attempt to understand the predicament of these women. In an ironic twist, I want a skinny, gorgeous, intelligent, humorous and independent woman. Each time I crossed paths with a woman of this kind, she did not love me as much as the ones whom I had rejected.
More often than not, we want those whose affections we cannot return to simply disappear. Sometimes we get mad at them for not understanding unrequited love. We get mad at them for pursuing us in the first place. We get mad at them for destroying a friendship by wanting more. I am well aware that there are some who will profess love for another, mostly untrue and for all the wrong reasons. You have every right to be mad and dismissive of such a person. However, there are those who will genuinely fall for you. Perhaps they fell for you because you are totally awesome. Bravo!! You are the person of their dreams and you make sense to them in every way.
You may not be capable of loving them back but you are capable of understanding them. You are capable of treating someone who mistakenly falls for you with kindness. It is not an easy task to be kind and understanding in an unrequited love situation. You run the risk of sending the wrong message or worse, hurting the person even more. It is a very delicate balance. In contrast to treating the person harshly, it can also make it difficult for them to leave you alone and move on.
The pain of unrequited love afflicts the Rejecter too. Despite the eventual heartbreak that is destined for the unrequited lover, by and large, the revelation of the love interest generates unhappiness on the part of the person pursued. The Rejecter may feel guilty and not know how to say ‘No’ without hurting you. The most common tactic is to lie low, maintain a healthy distance; wait and hope that the infatuation will eventually dissipate. The unrequited lover also has an obligation to be aware of the cascading events which unfold as a result of their romantic development.
My encounter with unrequited love was not all in vain. I stumbled upon a revelation which made me recover much quickly than I had expected. Permit me to ask the following questions before I share my revelation.
I am willing to bet that over 95% of us will answer no to both questions.
There is really no right or wrong way to handle unrequited love. The emotional impact on us cannot be halted in most cases. My solution to overcoming unrequited love was to adopt an understanding approach. I placed myself in the shoes of the one who rejected me. I also placed myself in the shoes of those I rejected. By doing so I discovered something remarkable. A love connection between two people is like switching on two different sets of light in a dark room. If there is no connection from one party, your light may be switched on but the other person may still be in the dark. A love interest must locate and switch the light on their own. He or she can only do so if they want to; you cannot make anyone switch on their light for you. The other person will, therefore, remain in the dark if he or she has no romantic interest in you. You cannot blame them for not switching on their light to see you; they honestly and genuinely do not feel the way you do.
Most unrequited love is probably a matter of a poor fit and or a lack of chemistry. In my opinion, rejection should not be a bad word. We should not place a ton of negativity on the word rejection. Rejection is okay and it should be embraced no matter how painful it can be. A poor fit is a better word than rejection. It may be that both parties want different things at different times. You cannot blame yourself for a lack of chemistry from a love interest. In reality, unrequited love is a blessing in disguise.
You want to be with someone who adores you as much as you adore them. To force someone to love you is to welcome a life of pain and hurt. In life, you do not always get things when you want them; you will get them when they are needed and at the right time.
Seeking closure can be very elusive in an unrequited love situation. It is okay to voice how you feel to a crush but seeking answers to explain the lack of interest is ill-advised. Understand that for every person who deems you unworthy, there is another out there thinking you are more than perfect. Unfortunately, sometimes you may not be in love with them so sadly the cycle continues and the wheels keep spinning. It’s just another day in the life of a single person so someone please tell me, what else is new?
Kwadjo Panyin is a Ghanaian born relationship and lifestyle blogger located in Los Angeles, California. He holds three degrees; a Bachelors degree from Rutgers University in New Jersey, an MBA from Franklin University in Ohio and a Masters of Science degree from Northern Kentucky University in Kentucky. Kwadjo is a business professional who blogs for fun. His articles are about the challenges of dating and relationship anomalies. Writing, blogging, world travel, and photography are his favorite hobbies.