Knowing When toWalk Away from Unrequited Love

As posted on by Kelly Reynolds (moi)

“Love does not obey our expectations; it obeys our intentions.” ~Lloyd Strom

To say that love hasn’t obeyed my expectations would be the understatement of the century.

I have not been lucky in love. I’ve been blessed with some amazing moments over the years, but somehow have managed to choose partners who did not want what I wanted, did not feel what I felt, and did not want to walk beside me into a future together.

I have really had to sit with this and try and figure out what part of this was my doing, and how to change it, because this year I once again chose a partner who was not walking with me. Except this time not only was he not walking with me but he was subtly trying to kick my feet from under me every chance he got.

I once again entered into a relationship desperate to find love and instead found a beautiful disaster. Love is a blessing, this we know. Unrequited love is toxic, and it can eat you alive.

Falling in love can be a slippery slope, regardless of any protective barriers we may have built. It can ease in like a light a mist that settles itself beautifully over your life, or it can blindside you.

Often we fall in love with a person before we have fully gotten to know them. By this point it’s too late—you’ve already stretched your heart for someone capable of bruising it. This is what love requires: utmost vulnerability and trust. Hopes and expectations rise along with the awareness that it can slip away.

I suggest we do our best to live in the moment. Love is elastic. It stretches and retracts and changes shape constantly. It is very uncertain. One day you are over the moon and the next disillusioned.

The elastic can break. You can re-tie it, but there is now a knot. Suddenly that perfect perception of the other person is a little bit tainted. Something rocked the pedestal. Sometimes we can recover from this, sometimes we can’t. 

Loyalty and commitment teach us that we are not to walk away from people that we love. Buddhism teaches us to love without expectation. There are a lot of belief systems about love and I question them often. If your love is shared and you are both happy I assume you wouldn’t have to question love at all.

But if your relationship, be it friendship or romantic love, is unbalanced and one person is hurting, how much is enough? How many pieces are supposed to break and how damaged can we allow ourselves to get before we throw these belief systems out the window and accept that this type of love isn’t healthy?

How do we do what is best for ourselves without damaging the heart and mind of someone else in the process?

Love and relationships require work and responsibility. We have to learn when to stretch and when to break.

For those of you who have been blessed to find a romantic love that is equally shared, I truly admire this and I have set the intention to find it one day. I think it all starts with being aware, open, and ready.

For a long time I didn’t believe I would find love so I subconsciously chose partners who I knew would be a challenge. I am no longer interested in this challenge. I told myself when my last relationship failed that I would never put myself in a situation where I didn’t know where I stood in someone’s life again; where I felt unsteady and unloved.

Unfortunately I did it again this year and I can promise you that it was the last time. I now know what I would like my relationship with my future partner to feel like, and that is the first step towards being open to receiving this gift. Love is a gift.

I have been tested often this year and with this came the opportunity to learn lessons. I have lived my life openly. I have experienced love and trusted the process. I fell in love, watched it grow, watched it change, and watched it fall apart.

I felt the pain, and still continue to recover from it. My heart is healing and that is a slow process, but it was necessary to hurt to have learned what I learned. For this I am grateful. I’m also grateful to my friends and family who helped me to pick up the pieces when I didn’t have the energy to do it alone.

8 things I have learned about relationships so far:

1. If there is a feeling better than love, I have not felt it. Take the risk and dive in with everything you have.

2. Enjoy the good times together as they are happening and be grateful for them.

3. Stay out of the future and in the moment. Now is certain.

4. Protect both your heart and your partner’s, whether the love is still there or not. We are human and we deserve kindness. We don’t need to add to the burdens we already carry by hurting others. Trust me, it doesn’t make thing better.

5. If your relationship starts to crumble, know when to put it down and let it be. Don’t grind it into dust.

6. You cannot continue to give to another person when you are not at your best; when you are so broken, so beaten down that you have no energy left. When talking has failed and words no longer have meaning, this is when you know it is over. When you feel like this, you have to do what is best for the relationship and for each other and wave the white flag to avoid further damage.

7. Some things just won’t work, no matter how badly we wish they would. Sometimes the match that felt so right just isn’t. Please don’t do more damage to your heart by trying to fix something that has past its expiration date. It will leave you raw.

8. It is okay to walk away from something that hurts you. It doesn’t require blame or justification. It just requires you to stop fanning the flames. You will find love again, and next time it will feel better.

Life isn’t easy. Some things build us up and some tear us down. Our hearts expand and break and rebuild—repeatedly. We are constantly learning and changing and growing. If in love you find yourself in a sticky situation like I was, please stop picking at scabs.

Nothing good has ever come from this. Stop the cycle, and let your heart heal so you can find pure love. Surround yourself with loving relationships. Something beautiful is out there waiting for you. If you feel it on the inside, you’ll find it out there.


29 thoughts on “Knowing When toWalk Away from Unrequited Love

  1. This post spoke directly to my heart. I am in a dysfunctional relationship that is way past its expiration date, despite my best attempts to hang on and patch things back together. I think it might be a relief to him if I make the move to end things; both of us are holding onto this idea of what we could have been, which is just a fantasy. I keep waiting for him to make another mistake worthy of my leaving, but you are right–it is okay to walk away from something that hurts you continually. I am so tired of feeling like I can love him enough for both of us.

    • Hi Laura. Thank you for your message. I have felt how you are feeling and it does not feel good and is very emotionally draining. I wish you strength and comfort when making your decision. Best of luck, warmth and happiness. Kelly

  2. I am 59 yrs old, divorced twice, no children and every relationship I’ve had without marriage has been without love from the other person. I chose badly both times I married. I think it’s too late for me, but your thoughts really hit home and I hope will help others to avoid the mistake of unrequited love. Thank you.

  3. Kelly that was an amazing post. Laura I too know what you are talking of but I want to make it work & so does he but it doesn’t mean it has been easy emotionally on me. I think part of me is suffering from post-traumatic stress of it all & still when hurtful words are said or certain things are done. All I ever wanted with him was happiness & love but his insecurities took over the best of him to lead to a legal situation which we are still in the process of things. He has learned to change in some ways & in others they can still come about. I can only hope this goes away & the good person who is underneath shows everyday, even in disagreement.
    Kelly I live in TO as well so if you ever need an ear, through my post u will get my email.
    Best of luck to you Laura as well. I think you need to express to him that last sentence you told us – he should have to know that in order to understand the seriousness of your hurt – I let mine know as he should to what I am feeling & way otherwise you will just explode with anger & fill yourself with dis-ease everyday.

  4. I don’t know where to begin so I will start with my present state of mind. Though it has been seven months since I laid eyes on him I am still in pain. I believe this time the pain is so bad that I am damaged for life. I can’t even kiss nor do I want to kiss another man. It would not be so bad if the things he did to me in the relationship and even most recently out of the relationship had not happened. He committed such emotional abuse against me that there were times when I felt he was trying to get back at me for something.

    • Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you healing on this journey to a healthier happier future out of this unhealthy and painful experience. It is a long journey but a necessary one. Push on with your head up. You will feel better.

  5. Serendipitously, I came upon this post at a time where my heart and soul needed it most. Thank you for writing it. It was cathartic to read your emotive missive as your words created something inside of me. You deserve love, yet I know a soul as deep as yours may struggle to find a worthy companion, I hope you have found that soulmate. Know that wherever you are in life, that your words gave me love and a piece of me will always love you for it.

    All the best.

  6. I have read most of your writing. They are truly amazing….so insightful,so real. I love how the description of the rain, or the freckles …just whatever you are talking about, plants such a perfect imagine of what it is you are feeling. Heartbreak…falling in love…having someone hurt you, the loss of a love…for whatever reason…it is so painful. It cuts to the very soul. I thought I had found love only to learn, it like yours, was not shared. Our paths were not leading toward the same place. All the twists and turns …. the ability
    to enjoy each moment as it comes…and , love is an awesome feeling. It’s hard to put yourself out there again and to know you might experience that same hurt. But loving is so good I think in time I will try again, of course, knowing that each moment, each day is one moment at a time and that this hurt could be here again.

  7. I would like to share with you a small story that I have kept hidden for over thirty years.

    At the age of sixteen I first noticed a girl from the Sophmore class at my high school, her name was Karen.

    I don’t know how or why, but at that moment I knew, without any doubt or question, this was the women I would spend the rest oft life with.

    I was never so frightened and excited at the same time.

    It took weeks for me to get the nerve to ask her out.

    When I finally did, she acted extremely odd, and actually appeared not to want to deal withe at all.

    At the time, I blew it off as one of those dumb high school
    Crushes, and moved on with things.

    The problem was, it was not a crush.
    I absolutely was determined to ignore the hopeless feeling of having feelings for someone who would not return, or even bother speaking to me about them.

    Fast forward two years later when I was more adept at dating, I saw her and decided to give it another try.

    It was the most horrifying experience of my young life.

    Karen refused to see me at all, and barely spoke to me on the phone.

    What was I to do know I thought.

    I wrote her a letter explaining how I felt, I certainly did not expect anything to become of it, all I wanted was too move on.

    Fast forward ten years later, I am married to a beautiful woman, with a two year old child, and out of the blue that ridiculous longing for her popped up out of nowhere. I realized at that moment, I was truly in love with Karen, but hadn’t even acknowledged this fact to myself.

    At this point int life, I am much older, and still have those feelings for this person, even though I am deeply in love withy wife of 29 years.

    I have no moral or conclusions to tell here. Only that I am very respectful of what goes on between all humans, be it friendship, love,
    longing etc…

    I have learned that speaking of love, and living with love are two different things.

    I thank you for listening.

    • painful on their part… and hopeful on your part…such a blessing to see people like you struggling to establish more justice… a very powerful poem… especially the way the circle is clhs#d&e8230;‘Toey’ and ‘we’ becoming one…art sure makes a difference…

  8. Kelly,

    I want to thank you so very much for writing this entry. You write with such eloquence and clarity around the subject of unrequited love. It’s helping me get through a recent breakup I had, even though we only knew each other for 5 intensive months. It was wonderful, but we ran into a dead end.

    I think being a romantic idealist and having the ability to easily love and give love makes us very vulnerable. That’s not to say we’re weak – instead, we are strong, stronger than most because we take the risks very few take. At least for me, I have this love flowing from me, and it’s pure. And many times I think all that’s needed is showing what that’s all about and it should conquer all. But that’s not the case when the other person can’t even recognize it or isn’t open to it.

    And the thing is, I still love this person no matter what she does. I’m finding this to be a constant, even though I had my heart broken. And yes, i know, I will still love again. The fact is, in my past relationships, I’ve never stopped loving them even though they might have done me wrong.

    Maybe I’m part of a special breed.

    With warmth,

  9. I read this from Tiny Buddha.. You’re words have evidently touched so many people, including me. You’re such an eloquent writer and your words so powerful, thank you for your honesty. I relate to you in that sometimes I think for some reason I am punishing myself, or challenging myself, by always falling for unavailable people. I’m not quite sure why this happens, but unrequited love must be one of the worst feelings. I hope you find the love you deserve, and I look forward to reading more from you.

  10. good words. I have been in a hopeless situation for 13 years. I Have a wife children grandchildren and a good like except for the pain I feel for loving someone else. 13 years ago a you woman came to to teach at the school I worked at. SHe she devastatingly attractive, fabulous body witty, flirty and intelligent. Several male teachers at the school were in love with her and she always surrounded by men even though she wore clothes to make herself unattractive. SHe became interested in the work I was doing in the classroom and arranged to get the classroom next to mine. She slowly befriended me and we started hanging out. the woman is 29 years younger than I am so I thought there were be no problems. We became working colleagues and she was so much fun to be with. We went to conferences together where we presented. Everytime men, other teachers, would fall for her and come pleading to me for more information on her. She would present in a short skirt and tight blouse and every males eyes would follow her like a hawk follows its prey. I started falling in love with her. Somethin I did not want. SHe told me she was transferring schools, I was crushed but I know it was for the best. We spent that summer together going and presenting at conferences and grew closer. When summer was over I told her we would probably not be seeing each other again. I told her I loved her deeply and because of our age difference and marital status, we were both married, we should not see each other. SHe said she loved me but not in a romantic sense, more like her dad and anyway she knew I would never leave my wife. I asked her not to contact me again, painful to ask that, and she got mad saying I was her best friend and if I was having these feelings for her I should get a therapist and not tell her. She was very angry but I pleased with her not to contact me. That lasted two weeks and then she called me asking if I was OK and would I like to hang out with her again. Like a weak fool I said yes and we started up again There was nothing sexual or romantic for her but I was deeply in love with her.

    Her husband wanted to know why she was hanging around with a 57 years old guy, she was 28 and my wife was upset as well. I had been a long distance runner and had many female running partners which my wife accepted. This was different. She suggested we start a business together so we would have an excuse to hang out together. We did, working with ideas I had created in the classroom. The business took off a bit and we started working together after I retired and she quite to start a family. Many times she would come to work in a short revealing skirt and tight blouse, cautioning me not to stare at her. This went on for years until we stopped working on a schedule as we could afford to have others do some of the work. I ended up doing most of the business which led to some resentment but I got mostly mad at not seeing her on a regular schedule. I did try and break it off several times but she truly loved me in a not sexual romantic way, more like a parent. With her growing family there was little time for me which was fine as not seeing her cooled the passion but she would always come back and we did have the business.

    The business declined steeply in the recession and there was little reason for us to work together. She would always make plans for us to see each other, we both like physical activity, go for walks or work out in the gym together but I was usually brushed aside for a new girlfriend or someone else.

    She always complained about her husband and how unhappy she was. He was also a friend of mine and knew that i had been in love with his wife for years. SHe is a highly sexual woman who states she had the same sex drive as a male. There relationsip revolved around sexd, lots of it but the other times were not good. Four months ago she decided to leave him. She had him move out. they share custody o the children. SHe told me once that her goal was to “get laid” every night by a different guy once her husband was gone. Now she is out there with different guys. SHe does not work and inherited a small fortune so she does not have to work. The woman is incredibly beautiful and she has a toned shapely body from working out. Men flock to her and she is able to have that new guy every day if she wants.

    For some reason this has totally crushed me and I am devastated. I talk to her soon to be ex husband and he is in bad shape. He is dating, the guy is cute with a good income, but mourns for his wife who he loves deeply. It kills him that his wife, who was the best lay he has every had, and he had lots of girls, is now with other men. Its a nightmare for me and have constant obsessive thoughts about it. I suffered for 10 years being in a non romantic relationship with this woman. Its kind of like malaria, it recedes and I think I am cured but that it breaks out again in a virulent life changing/harming form again. Its a nightmare and I wish it would go away. I am thinking of asking her once again to break all contact with me, its just to painful. Last week she wanted me to tell my wife that now she is a free woman she would never do anything impulsive with me or go to bed with me on a whim. I certainly would bed her if I had the chance, so glad I am so much older.

    Thats my story about unrequited love with the caveat that there is no worse fool then an old fool.

  11. This is me! If i didn’t know any better i’d say i wrote this or you know my life story! It blew me away reading this and the whole time i keep reassuring myself I’m not the only one! Thank you so much for your life stories and letting us all know we’re not alone! I know many times especially right now, i feel more alone then ever and wondering if i have the will to walk away. You put so much time and effort into this relationship that you can’t possibly find the energy for 1 more minute but how do you walk away from something you’ve put so many years into and literally so much blood sweat and tears (more tears than anything) into.

  12. I read this recently when I was having a terribly low moment. Everything you wrote described my current situation perfectly. I am still very much in love with my ex and we have continuously “held on” for over a year now, but never have gotten back together. Neither one of us has fully “let go” but he has yet to come back to me. And it hurts every time we get so close to working things out and then something haunts it. I truly love him and feel like we belong together but if he really wanted me, he would be with me..

  13. OMG! It’s 4am and I woke up suddenly and was compelled to google the words “walking away from a relationship, heartache” and I found this amazing gem. It was exactly what I needed in the moment. As I began to rewind the tape of feeling emotionally crushed, I read your words and began to literally transition into a grounded state of purposeful healing. When the pupil is ready the teacher will appear.

  14. I am currently going through a situation where I am in love with a girl who does not reciprocate. After knowing her for 5 years, I finally admitted to her how I felt. She had a boyfriend, but still always told me how much I meant to her and would kiss me regularly. She has since stopped and I am struggling to let go of her, because I am head over heels for her. This blog could not have come up on my stumbleupon at any better of a time. Thank you for this piece of wisdom. Hopefully I can finally break the curse and move on with my life.

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