What Happens When Love Is Unrequited?

What Happens When Love Is Unrequited?

Last update: 20 April, 2016

Unrequited love is possibly one of the most painful situations that can happen in life. Anyone who has lived this knows it and has felt it with their entire being.

At the same time, it is also one of the best chances we have to learn valuable lessons about ourselves. By being in full emotional openness, we are much more fragile and hypersensitive to what happens to us.

Experiencing this situation can be traumatic and distressing, and at the same time equally enriching and enlightening. We obtain, without a doubt, a unique perspective from which we are experiencing many facets that we did not believe to have had.

Suddenly it is as if time stopped, and our heart rate accelerates every time we think of this loved one to whom we are so clearly attached.

girl with bandaged eyes in love

The wistfulness of love

The faithful companion of unrequited love is melancholy. It is the disease of the unsatisfied lover, because of the lack of response from the object of affection.

Every lover who is sincere in his affection, if he be barred from union with his beloved either through separation, or as a result of a breaking off, or because he has to conceal his attachment, must necessarily fall in consequence into sickness, wasting away, and emaciation; not infrequently he, is obliged to take to his bed “

-Ibn Hazm-

Everything we experience we would like to share with that person, and everything reminds us of him or her. Every place he or she passed  becomes sacred, and we get worked up and flustered thinking about them even though it is a fantasy.

We hope for even the slightest bit of contact with them, and the result ends up being a kind of nostalgia: a sadness in the depths of our hearts.

This disease, the melancholy of love, is what the medieval troubadours emphasized. The irony is that its source is also precisely that which would cure it: the person who is being loved.

Frustration at the lack of connection

Unrequited love causes us a deep frustration because our expectations, hopes and fantasies fail to be met.

Perhaps the one we adore simply doesn’t feel the same way toward us, or maybe he or she simply feels indifference, which is just as painful. In both cases the intensity of frustration can lead to various problems that are both physical and psychological. We can become self-destructive as a result of being unsatisfied and disillusioned.

frozen heart

At what point is the hope and desire for being with the other person lost? This is a question that those who have gone through this situation may be able to resolve. But also it has a twist: the response and resolution will be different for each person.


This whole process might conclude with maturity and self-acceptance. We may come to understand that love is not controllable, it does not depend on our will, and therefore the other person won’t feel love for us even if we want them to.

“Not being loved is a simple misfortune. The true misfortune is not loving.”

-Albert Camus-

By the same token, we cannot help ourselves from feeling affection even if we try not to. All we can do is observe and respect our feelings and those of the other person.

Love is related to spiritual matters, and cannot be intellectualized. It is a deep joy that overwhelms us and fills us with the longing for the one we love.

Each individual knows his or her limit and decides when to surrender and to accept reality. When despair, unrest and melancholy have been experienced with great intensity, without repression due to unrequited love, those feelings are left to die and do  not involve a breakup, but a transformation in the relationship.

We should not feel regret for having loved and not having been loved in return.  It is a gift simply to feel what love is. Its magnitude and intensity are good for our souls to blossom, as well as to sculpt ourselves from our wounds.


“It is true that anything else that happens

I will feel the more it hurts.

Still, it’s better to have loved and lost

they have never loved. “

-Alfred Lord Tennyson-

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.