During my school days, I fell in love with a girl, and then, I felt like shit.
Not because of the “falling in love with a girl” thing. That part was easy, and I was good at it. (Update: I am still good at it.)
What I forgot to mention was that I'm a queer girl who fell in love with a straight girl — a straight girl who quite literally would never love me back, at least not in the way I loved her. (Update: I still fall in love with straight girls sometimes.)
Yeah, that was the shitty part. (Update: It's still shitty.)
While I'm pretty sure ~unrequited love~ is a universal human experience that anyone thinks about anytime Adele and Sam Smith open their mouths on the radio, whenever someone talks about it, I'm always tempted to say, “Fall hard for a straight person of the same gender, THEN TALK TO ME ABOUT LOVE STRUGGLES.”
Obviously, I'd never actually say that because that would be a pretty douchey move, but I have to believe there's a slight difference between knowing the chances of the person loving you back are low and knowing full well that person is incapable of loving you back, through no fault of either of you.
When you fall for someone who simply doesn't love you back at that point in time, it's undoubtedly an awful feeling. But you're still left with a little bit of hope that it could change: Maybe they could love you back at some point.
But falling in love with someone who will never love you back is a little more challenging, complicated and feels like a lost cause that you can't let go of.
At its core, falling in love with someone who can't return those emotions feels deeply unfair.
When I fell in love with a straight girl (we'll call her Rose, for now), I couldn't relish in what so many other people described as the "fun, exciting experience of falling love," mostly because what I was feeling was — and essentially always would be — totally one-sided.
Part of the "fun" and "excitement" that comes along with falling in love is the prospect (and usually, the eventual result) of the person you've fallen for returning those feelings.
That wasn't the case for me. And not to be dramatic (kidding, I live for the drama), but I felt slighted. I couldn't fully explore the love I felt for Rose because, from the get-go, I recognized I was at a dead end — those feelings wouldn't be returned.
The most unfair part of this experience was that my feelings for Rose didn't just go away. They lingered around.
I desperately tried to explain away my feelings every single time I thought about them, attempting to push back the inevitable, crushing frustration and disappointment.
I told myself things like, "You're not in love with her; you just really care about her," and "Everyone feels this way about their friends" because I didn't want to face the prospect that what I was feeling wasn't reciprocated.
More often then not, though, my emotions were stronger than any sort of pretend logic I tried to apply to my situation. (I blame being a Scorpio for that.) Eventually, I knew, without a doubt, that I was in love with Rose.
Inevitably, I felt a bit isolated.
No matter how frustrated I got with my situation, my feelings didn't stop growing, and I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do with them.
The more time I spent with Rose, the more my romantic feelings for her felt almost overwhelming. They were multiplying, but I didn't have a proper outlet for them.
I felt as though I could never tell Rose how in love with her I was because, not only was she incapable of feeling attracted to me in that way, but I'd risk losing any connection I had with her at all.
So, I continued suppressing what I felt, eventually growing to resent what everyone would normally describe as a good feeling — a happy feeling. And that felt pretty lonely.
Everywhere you look and listen, movie and TV characters are falling in love; songs on the radio are singing about love; your friends are gushing about how in love they are.
And I'll admit, it wasn't easy to be around any of that.
While everyone else was gushing about this allegedly universal experience of mutual love, I began to feel like I wasn't good enough for it.
Yes, that's obviously dramatic (didn't I tell you I live for the drama?), but despite my strongest attempts to reassure myself of the truth — that it was no one's fault Rose couldn't love me back — I was still convinced I was simply falling short in her eyes.
My self-esteem took a major hit, as I wondered, "What's so wrong with me that I can't have the same experiences as seemingly everyone else does?"
I started feeling a little bit crazy.
Seriously, I felt more dramatic than that moment in A Cinderella Story when Sam tells Austin, "Waiting for you is like waiting for rain in this drought: useless and disappointing."
I knew the idea of Rose ever falling in love with me was a lost cause, so why couldn't I step away from those feelings? Why was I obsessing over this person who would never feel the same way about me?
Well, when you want something you know you can't have, you want it even more. You've romanticized the idea of this person (as anyone does when they're in love) so much that losing the idea of them seems just as bad as losing the person themselves.
In a strange mental and emotional whirlwind, I found myself weirdly oscillating between feeling dejected about the whole situation, still being enamored with the idea of Rose and wanting it all to stop.
Eventually, though, reason kicked in.
I slowly came to realize that, as I sat with my sadness and my disappointment and my overall frustration at circumstances beyond my control, I was rejecting any other chance I had at falling in mutual love with someone else.
The longer I kept associating my experience of "falling in love" with feeling slighted, feeling isolated and feeling crazy, the more warped I knew my perception of love would be in the future. And that would only set me up for more heartbreak down the line.
By constantly reminding myself of the truth — that Rose was simply my friend, but that I was still capable of finding mutual love with someone else — I was gradually able to continue loving Rose, but not be in love with her.
Though I wasn't always in a place where being gay or anywhere on the LGBTQ spectrum was OK, I'm now able to inject myself into more diverse situations (i.e. ~clubs~ and ~groups~) where my chances of actually making a mutual romantic connection with someone I like are a lot stronger.
Yes, I still occasionally find myself falling for someone who likely will never love me back. (Emotions are a weird, weird thing.) And I'll be 100 percent real about it: It doesn't hurt any less the more it happens.
But I will say, you do get better at dealing with it as time goes on.