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Circumstances in love don't always play out the way we want them to. Sometimes he has a girlfriend. Sometimes she's leaving the country. Sometimes they’re just not interested.
Sometimes the problem isn't getting someone to like you, but rather getting yourself to stop liking them.
I'm not talking about exes here, either. I'm talking about how to get over a guy in your life who — although you've never been together — won't get out of your head. I’m talking about that person you’ve built up in your mind for weeks, months, even years. That person who gets your heart racing, who keeps sneaking their way into your dreams at night. It isn’t easy to know exactly how to get over a boy when you’ve never been, well, under them. That’s where Toronto-based breakup coach and dating expert Natalia Juarez comes in.
“We’ve all been on both sides of this equation in our lives. There’s no shame in it,” Juarez says about unrequited love. She adds that even though things may have never materialized into a formal relationship, learning that someone doesn’t share the same feelings you have for them can absolutely lead to the same devastating pain associated with breakups. “It’s still a disappointment in love. It’s still a heartbreak. And it’s all part of the process of finding your right person or people.”
It’s true you’re never alone in your heartache. Unrequited love is one of the greatest literary tropes of all time — there’s Eponine and Marius in Les Miserables, Heathcliff and Catherine in Wuthering Heights, and Laurie and Jo in Little Women. You, sweet, heartbroken reader, are in good company. And one day you might even find yourself looking back at this chapter of your life and smiling. Until then, Juarez is here to help you get through this. Here's how to get over him, her, or them:
The first and most important thing you can do is create some distance between you and your crush. Juarez suggests keeping yourself busy enough so you don’t find yourself gravitating toward wanting to text or hang out with them. “You have to heal and recover from this mini-heartbreak just like any breakup,” she says.
If it's impossible to cut this person out of your life entirely, do your best to keep conversation light It’s always best to be polite, but engineer some emotional distance to help you get over them.
Accept Your Negative Emotions
Whatever you feel as you distance yourself, remember your emotions are valid. When we let go of someone (even if it's just a crush), it's common to be struck with sadness, grief, and a sense of loss.
According to Juarez, rejection is a totally natural part of the process of finding where we’re supposed to be and who we’re supposed to be with. “It’s worth it to share your heart,” Juarez says about the sting of rejection. “If you’re disappointed, just let the person know. You can say, ‘I’m really disappointed to hear that, I might need a few weeks to recover, but I know I’ll be fine again soon.’”
Let your feelings wash over you. Sooner or later, the storm will blow over.
Surround Yourself With Support
There's nothing more important than having good people around when you're feeling down. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family. This will give you a secure base and the emotional support you need to pick you up.
Connect with them. Play board games, watch movies, cook together. Do whatever makes you feel good. A good set of friends or family will help you remember your own value and push you out into the world again when you're ready.
Write A List Of Qualities You Liked About Them
It might seem counterintuitive to write a list of things you liked about them, but it can be a helpful exercise.
Write down the traits that attracted you to this person. Instead of having them swimming around in your head, this written list will give you a hard copy. You now have the beginnings of a list of traits you like in a potential partner. You can continue adding to it as you meet new people, giving yourself targeted traits to look for in a new romance.
Write An Equal List Of Things You Disliked About Them
This exercise may be more difficult, depending on how well you knew your crush. Maybe it’s someone you admired from a distance at work, or maybe it’s an old friend you’ve developed feelings for over the course of many years. Either way, making a list of this person’s qualities that you didn’t find so enchanting may prove useful to you in your quest to get past this pain. Not only will it help you humanize this person — instead of the romanticized image of them that you’ve had in your head — but it will allow you to consider traits you may want to avoid in future partners..
Focus On Yourself
There is no better time to turn the spotlight onto you than when you're hurting in love. Fill your schedule with enriching activities. Have you always wanted to learn how to dance? Start taking classes. Have you been out of the gym for a while? Go back. Have you always wanted to learn a language? Download the first module.
Not only do these things take your attention off your heartache, but they also help you grow, helping you feel good about yourself and become a more fulfilled person.
Get Back Out There.
It does take time, but eventually your feelings for your crush will weaken. You'll feel better about yourself, you'll be seeing things from a fresh perspective, and you may even feel able to let go of your old feelings for your crush. At that point, it may be time to think about re-entering the dating world.
Meet new people. Flirt with those people. Remember how fun it can be. Don't jump into a relationship, just appreciate what it's like to feel attractive and wanted as you enrich your life with new people.
And then, one day, as you continue to put yourself out there, you'll turn around and realize you haven't thought about your old crush in a week. Your life, your friends, and perhaps even a new love interest will have taken over the mental real estate your crush used to occupy.
Getting over an unrequited love is never easy, but remember: If Laurie could get over Jo, you’re gonna make it through just fine.
Natalia Juarez, breakup and dating coach
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