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How To Handle Being Someone’s Unrequited Love

It's flattering, but it's also tricky.
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The worst feeling in the world is when you realize that the person you love will never love you back. But it feels almost as bad to be the object of someone else’s affection, and to have to break her heart when you tell her that you just don’t feel the same.

Remember that it’s not your fault.

It’s hard to tell someone that you’re not interested, and you might blame yourself for hurting her – or she might blame you. But it’s not your fault. She is completely responsible for her own feelings, so as long as you weren’t deliberately leading her on for your own amusement, don’t feel guilty.

Be honest.

Your first instinct might be to spare her feelings with a white lie, but you need to be honest. Even if the truth hurts. Don’t lie and say that you have feelings too, because that will either give her false hope or shackle you to a relationship that you don’t want, which will be excruciatingly painful in the long run.

Be direct.

Don’t beat around the bush. Don’t give excuses for why you cannot reciprocate her affections. Don’t send mixed messages. Don’t tell her that your affections might change in the future. And if you don’t feel the same way about her, don’t tell her that you’ll think about it, because that will only draw out the pain.

Ask her what she needs next.

If this person is your close friend, maybe she wants to continue being friends as if nothing happened. On the opposite end, maybe she needs to take a break from your friendship. If she asks for space, give her space. If she needs to completely remove you from her life – unfollowing your social media accounts and deleting your number – don’t take offense. Respect what she needs.

Don’t take advantage of her.

It’s easy to unwittingly take advantage of someone after she admit that she likes you. After all, her crush is flattering. Don’t blur the line between friendship and romance by doing things that could be confused as having affections for her, such as asking her on one-on-one outings or buying her meals. Don’t send her pictures fishing for compliments, flirt with her for fun, or ask her for special favors. It might seem harmless on your end, but you’re playing her like a toy.

Respect her privacy.

It’s okay to tell a few trusted friends what happened. After all, you might need to process your emotions. But don’t tell every single person you know. Don’t post it to social media, and resist the urge to subtweet.

You might feel bad for not returning someone’s feelings, but as long as you handle the situation tactfully, everything will be okay!

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J. Marie graduated from Duke University with a degree in International Relations and dreams of being a creative writer–dreams she’s now realizing as a musical theatre writer in NYC. She’s passionate about global black identities, black representation in media, and leather-bound notebooks. She also loves backpacking through a new country at a moment’s notice, and speaks Spanish, Swahili and Standard Arabic.

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