When you’re single, doesn’t it feel like the people you like are almost never the ones who like you? There’s something to be said for attraction, and each of us has a different criteria for what we find attractive in others. For some the physical looks are tops on the list, while for others it’s mental capacity. For still others it’s a sense of humor, or some combination of these attributes. But people hardly ever meet someone where’s there’s a mutual attraction and you both meet each others’ criteria. When you’re the one left holding the bag, it’s what I like to call unrequited like.
Usually unrequited like means you’re constantly hiding your feelings by either forcing them down deep or channeling them into a seeming sort of sarcasm. You know the guy who is on the fringes of your group who is always finding some excuse to joke around. Maybe he thinks being the funny man will win you over, or he’s letting out his true feelings through sarcastic means. If he finds excuses to be near you, it’s quite possible he unrequitedly likes you, even if his nearness is characterized by self-deprecating behavior or forced humor.
It works with wanting to be friends too. You know the girl who is shy but whom you always seem to see around. Maybe you talked to her once or twice in passing, but you haven’t given her a second thought. Well, she has no friends, but she enjoys being near you because you are spontaneous and you make everything an adventure. She’s too shy to approach you, though, so that “like” only goes one way, and you’re too involved with being the center of attention that you will never notice her.
The worst type of unrequited like, though, is the one that has been expressed and shot down. You finally got up your nerve to talk to the woman you’ve always wanted to be like, and you told her that you want to be friends. Maybe you can do something together after work sometime, it doesn’t matter to you what it is. But she tells you she has no room in her life for anyone new, or she tells you that you’re just too weird, or she doesn’t even give you a reason, preferring to just stick with a “No,” that you think has an exclamation point on the end of it, but you try to remain unsure.
Others will take advantage too. When they know you like them they will sometimes play with your emotions in order to either get a laugh from it later with their real friends or string you along so you think they could like you in return. Some people are just cruel like that, and if they do that to you then you truly know where you stand. Why would you want to be involved with someone like that? Those are definitely true colors shining through, and not in a good way.
And that’s it. You tried your best, but it will always remain unrequited, and it’s so much worse than when you suffered from afar because at least then you had some twisted kind of hope. As long as you haven’t been rejected outright, there’s hope that your like could be reciprocated one day. But at least you’re not torturing yourself constantly wondering “what if.” That’s when you need to search for someone who can like you for you, not time to decide you’re unlikeable. You just haven’t met the person yet who will like you the way you like them.
Believe me, it’s a much fuller life when you move on from those unrequited likes and find people who like you for you.