What the Other Side of Unrequited Love Wishes You Knew
I want to love you back, and I feel broken when I can’t.
The voice in the back of my head refuses to shut up. What if the last person I loved is the last time I’ll ever love? What if it broke me? Not being able to return the love someone gives me eats me up with fear.
If I voiced my concerns to my level-headed and perfectly sensible friends they’d exclaim otherwise. “Of course you’re not broken!” I know that their opinion is more logical. I should listen to them.
But I still feel broken. It’s not that I’m aromantic or anything like that— I’ve felt romantic attraction and loved before. I know I’m capable of it. In fact, my capacity to love feels like a big part of who I am, but a part of me that I accidentally buried and now can’t seem to find.
I’m jealous of you
You’re braver than I am. The thought of letting myself be as vulnerable as you are is terrifying. I’m jealous of your bravery. Allowing yourself to love someone is a choice, and making that choice when you don’t know if they’ll love you back is brave.
If you confessed your feelings to me, I’m jealous of your fearlessness. I can’t imagine being so vulnerable. Once I loved someone and was too afraid to ever say so. I thought feelings were something to be ashamed about, so I hid them. But there’s nothing shameful about loving someone.
I’m jealous of your capability to love. I want to do that too. Losing myself the same way you do looks so thrilling. I remember that feeling — nauseating but also like everything about life is so great it finally makes sense. I’m jealous of you, but I’m too afraid to let myself be anything like you.
What am I afraid of, you may ask? First of all, the depths of my love terrify me. When I love someone, nothing else matters. My capability to love will swallow up my whole world if I let loose. I’m not ready to lose myself like that.
I’m afraid of all the lies I won’t be able to maintain anymore. My life is a carefully constructed pretense. My life is a house of cards named ‘I maybe have some idea what I’m doing and am not an absolute mess’. The intensity of my love would shake up that house of cards.
Once I lose myself and my carefully constructed image, I’m afraid of looking like an absolute fool.
You only like me so much is because I can keep up this pretense. It’s easy to pretend to be the kind of person who’s easy to love, but I’m not that simple. Once you see who I really am, I don’t know if you would feel the same.
I’m not as great as you seem to think
I’m good at hiding my ugly sides, and I have a lot of them. Flaws can be sedated, hidden, or masked as something else.
I can pretend that I want to fix the world because I’m a good person, not because I need to feel important. I can pretend that my insatiable need to be understood and paid attention to is just wanting to form meaningful connections.
Every one of my beautiful qualities has a selfish motivation. Knowing that makes me feel sick and ugly and inadequate. I wonder, are all the ‘good’ people just as selfish as me, or am I just a bad person? Or am I the only one who isn’t lying to myself?
Loving someone is vulnerable. I’d be naked. You could pick apart my curated image. You could see all the ugly. I’m afraid that once I love you, and once you see me, you’ll see everything wrong with me and won’t like me anymore.
This isn’t all because of low self-esteem. I know I’m awesome, of course, you love me. But I’m also self-aware enough to know my capacity to be a raging bitch, and I don’t want to expose anyone to that. I’ve watched myself turn into a cruel person, and I can’t let that happen again.
I don’t really care about you
When I say it’s not personal, I mean it. No matter how cliche it is to say “it’s not you, it’s me” it’s still true. There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s no reason I feel the way I do.
You could have everything perfect on paper, and it wouldn’t change how little I feel for you. I wish I did. I want to. It would be so much easier if I loved you too. I can’t. Maybe you’re too easy to love, and I’m hell-bent on making myself suffer.
Earlier today my mother told me I can’t accept easy wins because they don’t feel like wins. I don’t value what I have, because I assume if I already have it then it can’t be worth much. Instead, I seek the toughest path, and if it doesn’t work out I convince myself it was because I didn’t deserve it. I think she’s right — I can be blind to what’s right in front of me. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, or even how I’d change it.
Even if you saw all my ugly vulnerabilities, and still liked me the same, it still wouldn’t work. At the end of the day, when there’s no reason I don’t care about you, nothing can change that. Life is weird and messy and doesn’t always make sense.
Now, where did I lose that capacity to love? I promise I’m looking for it. I think I hid it under perfectly-curated-image. Maybe under my fear of abandonment? It could even be under my self-worth. Or maybe my need for control? I’ll have to take everything apart to check.
But I’m going to keep looking, and I’m going to find it. I’m going to try to be better, healthier, and less dysfunctional. I don’t want to hurt anyone. Just don’t wait around for me, because I can’t promise when I’ll figure things out.