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Some advice on unrequited love

The Chubby CthulhuThe Chubby Cthulhu Registered User new member
I will try to keep this short, though I may fail and for that I ask your forgiveness.

I'm a senior in college. I have a best friend named Rachel. I've known her for maybe three years now (two in person). We became very close very quickly and I fell for her hard a while back. I let the feelings brew for a long while until they became unbearable, and so one night a few months ago (in early March) I told her how I felt. It was a long talk, and I explained that it's okay, that I know she doesn't reciprocate (because I did know this; her sister had told me many times before), etcetc, and I gave her a letter to read for later where I more articulately expressed my thoughts.

I know that night was tough for her -- I found out later that she was crying a lot and was very confused -- but things resumed as normal quite quickly. Over the next few months, I made great strides with my treatment of her. I used to be really needy, always wanting her attention, but I cut that part off and ground it down immensely so I don't feel that unhealthy urge. I did that as much for my own healthiness as I did for anything else, and I won't lie and say my love for her went away, despite her ultimately expressing no interest. I am convinced that my neediness messed things up in the beginning, and while I can rationally acknowledge that the damage may be irreparable, there's an emotional part of me that will always slightly hope that something more may come between us.

I was in a different place when I met Rachel three years ago. I was over one hundred pounds heavier with a severe acne problem. I had no confidence, absolutely no experience with girls. And then came along a beautiful and kind lady who not only chose to spend time with me but was compatible on so many levels. I overreacted. I wanted too much of her all the time.

I improved myself over the years, physically and mentally. I lost the weight and my acne cleared up on its own. My confidence is higher. Women actually notice me -- a few months ago, I had my first kiss ever, and I've had other women express explicit interest in me, which is so very strange after 22 years of being alone. Rationally, I realize I put a lot on Rachel. She was the first girl I ever loved, and still is, and I don't deny that I have rose-tinted glasses on when I see her. But I swear to God, I have tried to focus on the negative as much as possible. She isn't the best in a few ways, and I tried to amplify those to help me move on. It helped, it really has, but despite all that, I do accept her and want her.

So I'm in a weird place now. We're still close friends. We hang out a bit (not as much as we did before, which is fine), we work together, we see each other on campus. But I still have feelings that won't go away, as much as I may want them to. And I don't know how to rid myself of them. I can bury the pain for most of my waking hours, but sometimes it swells up and it's almost unbearable.

I do, first and foremost, just want her to be happy. That is the truth. I know she had an intense crush on a mutual friend a few months ago, and I know he likes her, too, and I told him how she felt in early June. Basically: "Man, if you like her, go get her. She really does like you. If you ask her out, she'll say yes, and I guarantee she's a catch." I told him this, and he still hasn't made a move (no clue why). But the point is, I do want her to be with someone who makes her happy, even if it doesn't make me happy.

I don't know. I'm really sorry, I had a clear ending in mind when I started this post but I lost it. I don't know what to ask for. Am I supposed to just cut her out of my life in this situation? I don't know if I can bear that. She is my best friend, and I'm very reclusive. I'm social when I'm out and about, in the office or at school or wherever, but I'm selective about who I'm ~close with so I really only talk to her and two of my friends since middle school (one of whom now lives in New York, so I never see him, either) outside of my obligated social situations. If I were to cut out Rachel, I'd spend hours alone. Her and I, even without an ounce of romance, are extraordinarily compatible, and it's really hard to find that connection with another human being.

This situation is about five times more complex than I've typed here but I decided not to elaborate on parts that aren't directly pertinent. I am willing to expand if there is any confusion, though. Just ask. And I suppose I'm asking you for advice. What should I do here? I've tried dating -- /am/ trying, for that matter -- other women, but it's not changing how I feel for Rachel and I wind up breaking up after a few dates because 1) there winds up not being a connection and 2) I feel guilty dating another girl when I feel so strongly for Rachel. It's not right to the girl I'm seeing.

Any advice on the matter is appreciated. Thank you.

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    cmsamocmsamo Registered User regular
    edited August 2013
    I saw this one sentence, and it spurred me to reply to your post (I never normally respond to these posts)

    "If I were to cut out Rachel, I'd spend hours alone."

    You would spend hours alone, because your mindset and behaviour is making you think you will.

    You have to force yourself to go out. Find new stuff. Go to random coffee shops, bars, libraries, whatever. Be genial, be confident. Engage strangers in a polite way, example if you go to a bar alone, speak to the staff, the regulars, etc.

    When I first moved to a new country I spent hours alone in a strange hotel with new friends. I wasted a lot of energy feeling sorry for myself and sitting on the couch in my room watching TV. It took the advice of a stranger to encourage me to be outgoing, to engage and talk to people. 7 years later I am well settled with lots of friends and interests, something I never thought possible way back.

    The more you do, the more people you meet, and new roads you go down, the less it will hurt you that there is this person who you love. You have to force yourself to change your thinking and outlook, and just get out into the world. Easy to say, very hard to do!

    cmsamo on
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    Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    What is the "help" or "advice" you need?

    Do you want help dating Rachel? Because that's never going to happen. You should move on.

    Do you want help getting over Rachel? Because that's pretty simple. 1) Stop spending so much time with Rachel. 2) Do more social stuff without Rachel (doesn't have to be dating, just has to be social). 3) Continue to date other people romantically until you find someone else.

    Do you want people to tell you whether or not you should still be friends with Rachel? That's a tough one, but most signs point to you at the very least not spending so much time with her and using her as an emotional crutch. Whether you think you can continue being friends with her on a more limited basis is something only you two can answer for your relationship.

    In all honesty your entire post read like a teenage, angst-filled teenage rant. You aren't too far removed from those years, so maybe you can get some slack, but at some point you're going to have to grow up and take responsibility for your emotions and the relationships in your life. A part of you is clearly still holding out hope that she will wake up one day and magically fall in love with you and everything will be great. Well, that's not going to happen. What you want to do with that information is up to you, but I'd recommend finding other ways to spend your time instead of talking with her on the phone for hours and hours every day.

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    The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    I improved myself over the years, physically and mentally. I lost the weight and my acne cleared up on its own. My confidence is higher. Women actually notice me -- a few months ago, I had my first kiss ever, and I've had other women express explicit interest in me, which is so very strange after 22 years of being alone. Rationally, I realize I put a lot on Rachel. She was the first girl I ever loved, and still is, and I don't deny that I have rose-tinted glasses on when I see her. But I swear to God, I have tried to focus on the negative as much as possible. She isn't the best in a few ways, and I tried to amplify those to help me move on. It helped, it really has, but despite all that, I do accept her and want her.

    That's not a very healthy way to approach this situation.
    I don't know. I'm really sorry, I had a clear ending in mind when I started this post but I lost it. I don't know what to ask for. Am I supposed to just cut her out of my life in this situation? I don't know if I can bear that. She is my best friend, and I'm very reclusive. I'm social when I'm out and about, in the office or at school or wherever, but I'm selective about who I'm ~close with so I really only talk to her and two of my friends since middle school (one of whom now lives in New York, so I never see him, either) outside of my obligated social situations. If I were to cut out Rachel, I'd spend hours alone. Her and I, even without an ounce of romance, are extraordinarily compatible, and it's really hard to find that connection with another human being.

    Okay.

    You do not sound like you can, right now, have a healthy friendship with this person. One-sided attraction where you talk about things like 'compatibility' is not a good place to exist.


    Like @cmsamo says, try to get out. Meet other friends. Dramatically cutting ties with Rachel probably isn't necessary, but don't pretend that you're there to be her friend if you're not there be her friend (and if you're in love with her, well, you're not). Just try to go find things to do and people to talk with, so that this one social connection is not your entire universe.

    Being in love with someone who doesn't love you isn't something you have to apologize for or feel ashamed about, by the way. it happens to just about everyone.

    With Love and Courage
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    ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Am I supposed to just cut her out of my life in this situation?

    Short answer: Yes.

    Long Answer: I don't think you sound like a teenager, and I'm not going to sit here and minimize how hard this is for you or tell you you sound like a kid, because I've been there (and older than you are now). I think I was 23 or 24 when I met the guy, and 26 when I got over him. I'd had plenty of relationships and tons of life experience behind me. It's not a first-time relationship thing, it's hope and security and knowing we'd be perfect together if only he would give it a chance. I put a stop to a potential relationship with years of history and a lot of potential because in my mind I was cheating on this person who had told me a hundred times it wouldn't happen. I knew intellectually I wasn't; but I was still cheating on my feelings for him. Do you have any idea how ridiculous that sounds?

    What you need to realize if you haven't is that there isn't any of that hope, and in my experience the only way to get the idea that there is out of your head is to stop talking to her for a good, LONG time. Stop telling yourself she's there; she's not. Not like you are. She can't be. It's not her fault and it's not going to change, because she's not your best friend, she's your crutch. She's the thing in your head that stops you from going out and doing things with other people, from going on dates, from finding love with someone who will love you back, because even if she doesn't return your feelings she's there and she's safe. At this point she's not keeping you company - she's keeping you alone, and you're going to realize that when she finally starts seeing someone else and spends all that time she was spending with you with him, and it is going to KILL you.

    There's no magic word anyone can say, place you can go, or thing you can buy... it just takes time and distance and filling that time and distance with things that aren't her. I think you know that what you need to do is cut her out, because you've tried everything else and it's not worked, and I can tell it's what you want to do deep down, but you're scared. Find other things to fill your time, and do it.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
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    k-mapsk-maps I wish I could find the Karnaugh map for love. 2^<3Registered User regular
    edited August 2013
    Before the inevitable flood of measured practical "be an adult" advice that chastises you for having feelings washes over you, I'd like to say that this situation is not atypical, it sucks pretty hard, but there's really not much you can do about it. You don't have to "grow up" to deal with this; you're allowed to have these admittedly "angsty" feelings (as we all do), but still do what you have to do in order to move on. I don't see why people feel the need to berate someone in emotional pain, however frivolous that pain may seem to them on the outside. "Teen angst" can also lead to teen suicide, does that somehow cheapen it?

    That being said, there is no prescription anyone can give you here that will cure you in X amount of time. I'm of the opinion that too much focus is usually given to distancing yourself from her, rather than just carving out your own life. If you don't talk to her and all you do is wallow by yourself in your room, that's not really going to help you any. In the same way you fell for this Rachel, however special and rare that relationship may be, it's not THAT special, ans you can have that experience again when you meet the next awesome person in your life. It might be harder for you to find a potential partner, but that only means you have to try harder, and that means putting concerted effort into finding and expanding your social circles and interests.

    I had an unrequited love in college but got over it relatively quickly after she told me she was a lesbian. It still sucked really hard, but the fact that I knew it could not work between us (for obvious reasons) meant that there was absolutely no point in me thinking about her in that way. Later she found out she was bi and we ended up in a relationship for >3 years. She then broke up with me, and I'm back to where I started, only it's much worse because now I still get these niggling stupid misguided fantasies about us getting back together. What I'm trying to do now (and you should too), is get back to that point where I accept that we're never going to be together. The funniest part about this, and is evidenced above, is when you've finally accepted that, you're actually a lot more likely to have a chance with her. Well, actually, it makes perfect sense, because a happy independent person is far more attractive than a sad sack who overanalyzes and waits for any sign of her reciprocating your affection.

    EDIT: completely redundant post that was much better articulated by ceres. Listen to ceres. Actually, I should listen to ceres, because I'm practically in the thick of where she was in her story. ceres, was there a turning point, or did it just gradually die out?

    k-maps on
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    GreenGreen Stick around. I'm full of bad ideas.Registered User regular
    I was in roughly the same situation for about a year, but I at least had the benefit of going to a separate college from her. From experience, the best thing you can do for yourself is start to find things to do that don't require you to be around her. Every additional minute you're spending just hanging out is prolonging your fixation on her.

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    k-mapsk-maps I wish I could find the Karnaugh map for love. 2^<3Registered User regular
    I'm starting to feel that maybe there are a handful of adults who haven't had the shitty soul-crushing experience of friend-turned-into-unrequited love, and so tend to pathologize people like OP. It's not like every potential relationship you had that fizzled out somehow, it's a special kind of fizzling out. But, it's about as common as getting your wisdom teeth pulled out, and it hurts about as much without painkillers. Interestingly, I've never got my wisdom teeth pulled out, and therefore think everyone else is a scraggly-toothed pussy.

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    Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    Just to be clear, I've been exactly where the OP is, and that may be why my post came across as so harsh. In my experience, tough love was the best way to get through, but everyone is different so YMMV. And, as much as you guys seem to want to minimize it, the truth of the matter is that we all agree on the same basic advice - "@The Chubby Cthulhu", you need to stop spending so much time with Rachel, perhaps to the extent of cutting her out of your life. This is going to continue to happen for the rest of your life, if you let it. I apologize for generalizing it as a "teenage thing", and I agree that it happens to adults (myself included, in varying degrees) but there is such a thing as a difference between mature and immature behavior.

    Taking responsibility for your emotions and your relationships doesn't imply that you are wrong for having feelings or that you shouldn't have feelings or that you can actually control your feelings. What it means is that you have to be mature enough to acknowledge what those emotions are and how they affect your relationships, and then be responsible enough to not act upon them when you know it isn't the right thing to do. @ceres spoke well on this from her own personal experience, and I think she's absolutely right. It's not that the OP is wrong for having these feelings - it's that the OP needs to recognize that his behavior should not be dictated by his feelings in this case, and that doing "the hard thing" is a sign of personal maturity and a willingness to do what hurts in the short term because that's what is best in the long term.

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    RocketSauceRocketSauce Registered User regular
    What should I do here? I've tried dating -- /am/ trying, for that matter -- other women, but it's not changing how I feel for Rachel and I wind up breaking up after a few dates because 1) there winds up not being a connection and 2) I feel guilty dating another girl when I feel so strongly for Rachel. It's not right to the girl I'm seeing.

    Your concept of dating and relationships is different than mine. A few dates doesn't constitute a relationship, or necessitate breaking up over feelings for another girl. Dating is getting to know a person. It's the introductory step in the process. It's kind of naïve to think that the girls you're seeing don't have feelings for anyone else at that moment. People have complicated personal histories, and don't come into a date with a blank slate. Stop worrying about that. You've also got nothing going on with Rachel, and never will. Don't let this get in the way of you finding a healthy relationship with mutual attraction.

    My advice is to go on living your life. As long as you're hung up on someone who you've never even gone on a date with, you won't be making progress. Your goal is to be the best version of you. Do it for yourself, not someone else. Work out, eat right, learn stuff, spend time around other people.

    For whatever reason, she's not into you. That's not for you to worry about or figure out. When you get older and more experienced, you'll realize that's a good thing. Why would you even want to be with someone who doesn't want to be with you? You seem to have figured out most of these issues yourself: a kind, pretty girl showed attention to an overweight guy with low self esteem. A relationship built on mutual respect, admiration, and love will have both parties interested in each other.

    Don't be a dick to her, she can't control how she feels romantically toward you. It just isn't there. Not the end of the world. Don't mope or be moody around her. If you have to spend time around her, then just try and be the friend that she used to have. If that's too hard, then limit contact with her.

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    PedroAsaniPedroAsani Brotherhood of the Squirrel [Prime]Registered User regular
    Number one: No to everything you just said. No to what you are thinking. No to everything you dream. No to your "What ifs". No to every single fantasy, wish, dream and every elaborate scenario that involves the two of us. No, NO, NOOOOOOOOOO.

    Number two: *Chinese burn* Remember that pain. Whenever a thought creeps into your head wondering if there is anything more to the "Hello" I gave you in the morning, you remember that pain. You have no future with me. You have nothing with me.

    It sucks, and I'm certain that almost everyone has been there. Some get drunk, some drop down the MMO hole for a while, some throw themselves into work and end up with a career instead of a job. You will find a way to cope that works for you. But you won't do it until you accept the reality of the situation and then choose to do something about it.

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    UnderdogUnderdog Registered User regular
    I'm on the tail end of something similar myself so I completely feel how much this must suck for you. It's just a shitty feeling all around. Thankfully, we were on the same page right after. Smart girl that she was, she said she would let me decide when to make contact again which was perfect because the moment I saw that look on her face as I was "confessing", I knew I was going to have stop seeing her for a while.

    I've found that keeping contact right after the rejection kinda fucks up your brain and messes with the thought process. Consider that I got an unequivocal 'No' from her (two if you want to get technical about it) and I had decided I wasn't going to see her until I was good and ready and still I dealt with months of thoughts that maybe there was still a chance. Like maybe if I changed myself, improved my flaws and started doing more activities she was into, then maybe. Or maybe she just said no because she had never thought about it and so now that the thought is in her head, maybe she'll change her mind later. It was pretty insane and I did that without any external influence. That was just me, obsessing with my own thoughts. I didn't even have to deal with things like "Wait, what did she mean by that?" or "She touched my arm..."

    Spending time with her when you still haven't got your feelings under control puts you in a weird place, as you've discovered. You know she's not interested but you can't help wanting her. @cmsamo has it right. You're worried without her you'll be all alone but if you can make one friend, you can make more. Don't go with the intention of replacing her, just expand your friends network. Meet more people, interact with more personalities and hopefully come across others that you'll find interesting.

    If you can't cut her out entirely, gently decrease the time spent together and reallocate it new friends. Really, it's healthier to have your group of friends consist of more than 1 person anyway so this is as good a time as any. It sucks man, I feel for you.

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    k-mapsk-maps I wish I could find the Karnaugh map for love. 2^<3Registered User regular
    edited August 2013
    I agree with the general sentiment of putting some distance between you and her, but I'd also like to cast one vote for engaging it head-on. Sort of in the same way people with a phobia will get treated with desensitization therapy by being exposed to the subject of their fears and seeing that they can be okay with it after all. The same mentality can apply to interacting with her with the knowledge that there will be no romantic interest, but seeing that you can come out very much alive regardless. This may help rewire your brain to not make it such a BIG THING. For me, I found that distance is a double-edged sword. Yes, you are no longer directly reminded of her, but she also becomes this mythological idealized person as you romanticize and exaggerate each of their positive aspects in your head. No real person is going to be as perfect as the one you imagine. Also, you lose an otherwise good friend.

    Just a slightly different perspective from someone not finding distance that helpful.

    EDIT:
    here's more or less how my first unrequited love experience went like...note: we were both kind of high
    me: Would you be freaked out if I told you I was kind of into you (*cringe*)
    her: don't be into me...
    me: okay, sorry, didn't mean to...couldn't help it..
    me: ugh, it's like you're going to misinterpret everything I say now as some sort of come-on...it's like quicksand
    me: it's like my brain has been wired to like the Jolie character from Hackers-type
    her: yeah, I get it. I grew up being into her as well! Don't worry about, I'm just annoyed because like two other guys hit on me today.
    me: okay, nm, I'll just mark it down as stupid shit I say when I'm high
    me: or just be an adult about it and just like deal with it
    her: yeah, as I said, don't worry about it. It's not a big deal.
    me: yeah, alright, nothing to see here. Forget I ever said anything

    We met up the next day and everything was still as it has been. Granted, it was easier for me because she said she was just not into guys. Nothing I can do about it. Just act as if there's some fundamental force-field that would make it impossible for you guys to ever be together. Like it's completely outside of your control (where it actually really is outside of your control).

    k-maps on
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    CambiataCambiata Commander Shepard The likes of which even GAWD has never seenRegistered User regular
    Distance from Rachel is what you need most.

    "If you divide the whole world into just enemies and friends, you'll end up destroying everything" --Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind
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