I Fell For A Guy Who Would Never Love Me Back—Here’s How I Got Through It

He was my definition of perfection, from his incredible collection of stories about his military career to his superior kissing skills. He was brainy and brawny and knew all the lyrics to my favorite country songs. I thought I’d finally found my match, but I was wrong. One day, without warning, he told me he wasn’t ready for a relationship. Although I sometimes thought I would never pick up the pieces, after a lot of failed attempts, I finally did. Here’s how:

  1. I focused on my career. In the immediate aftermath, I diverted my restlessness into my work. I love what I do, so the long hours I clocked not only helped me to stay sane, they also brought me a lot of professional satisfaction. It’s hard to sweat your single status on a Saturday night when you’re sweating an upcoming project deadline.
  2. I wrote about him. Unrequited love is one of the best artistic inspirations possible, and the writing process forced me to shape, trim, and logically arrange my emotions. I’ll admit that my output was less than amazing, but I wasn’t writing a bestseller. I was finding a way to make something healthy and productive from the poison in my soul.
  3. I went on an adventure. I finally made good on an old friend’s open invitation and flew out to Colorado for a visit. Somewhere in the middle of the woods on a rainy hike, I remembered that I have the power to make my life beautiful, with or without a guy. Not only did I chip away at my unfulfilled longing, I also discovered a new love for the outdoors.
  4. I leaned on my girlfriends. My gals were such champs. They never rolled their eyes when I mentioned him. They listened to my stories a dozen times and they got me out of the house when I needed a distraction. Their compassion and humor always buoyed me when I felt ready to sink. Our late night conversations were my saving grace.
  5. I took it slow with new guys. Rebounding has never worked for me. I knew I needed to stay picky and refuse to date anyone new unless he had serious potential. Going out with a “placeholder” would only remind me how much I missed being with a guy I was crazy about. The slow process wasn’t fun, but I spared myself a lot of heartache.
  6. I stayed friends on Facebook.  Even after I admitted to myself that a future was unlikely for me and my crush, I kept up social media ties, hoping to find a “sign” that I still had a chance. In an interesting twist, my continued interaction was actually the major catalyst for helping me to move on because there were no signs—just a lot of posts in which he’d tagged his ex-wife, his female friends, and really everyone but me. I started to see his pure lack of romantic interest in 140-character clarity.
  7. I let myself keep loving him.  Since I wasn’t immune to feeling something for him, I had two choices: keep expressing positive emotions about him or get really damn hateful. But I knew that getting mad would only keep reinforcing his strong effect on me. I chose instead to acknowledge my feelings of love. And wouldn’t you know it, over time, my passion cooled down.
  8. I stopped hero-worshiping him. He was attractive to me because he had qualities I WISHED I felt more of in myself. He was adventurous, opinionated, and independent. I guess I thought that keeping him close would eventually help me to absorb those strengths. But guess what? I didn’t really lack any of those traits, I only lacked the confidence to let them shine.
  9. I realized his interest in me didn’t determine my worth. Rejection has a sneaky way of making us question our value, but I didn’t suddenly become a less worthy or interesting person when he stopped returning my texts. I continued to shape my career, develop lasting friendships, and eventually meet amazing new guys. Clearly, I didn’t need him to continue accomplishing my goals in life. I did fine on my own.
  10. I admitted that loving someone doesn’t make him right for me. If I’m honest, some part of me still loves the guy. I’m not sure what cosmic or chemical force compels my strong feelings, but I do know that I still care deeply for his welfare and will always root for his success. I also know that we’re not a good pairing. Our experiences diverge too much for us to find genuine common ground. Caring about someone and being attracted to him isn’t enough to make the foundation for a good relationship.
  11. I reminded myself that I’d been through this before and survived it. And miraculously, I still keep finding new and interesting partners, enjoying the intrigue of fresh romances, and making great memories. I’ll never let the brief sting of losing in love hold me back from trying again.
  12. I let time and distance do its thing. He moved back to Texas a few months after our split. Knowing how far away he was helped to dilute my feelings. It’s been a couple of years now, and I can think of him without so much as a twinge of regret. In the grand scheme of my life, he’s just an interesting detour I once took and will always remember fondly.
Jackie Dever is a freelance writer and editor in Southern California. When she's not working, she enjoys hiking, reading, and sampling craft beers.