How To Move On When Feelings Aren’t Mutual
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Take back your power by moving forward when there’s nothing holding you back.
We’ve ALL experienced a situation where we were on the giving end of feelings that weren’t being reciprocated.
These experiences vary. For some, it was the beginning levels of interest that were never returned.
For others, it came after years and years together, when someone else fell out of love.
Accepting that someone isn’t into you is difficult, but giving yourself permission to let go and move forward is even harder, because there’s a finality to it. You’re saying to yourself: This isn’t going to happen.
That’s also why there’s power in the ability to take the first step. You’re taking control of where your emotional energy is directed, and it certainly shouldn’t be towards someone who doesn’t appreciate or reciprocate it.
The first step: The first step.
The first step to moving forward is quite literally taking the first step away from this person. Maybe you’re friends, or maybe they’re trying to stay friends. Or maybe you feel like they’re just casually dating you and passing time when you want something far more serious.
Whatever the circumstances are, if you allow the cycle to continue, spending more time with them will only serve as the constant reminder of a future that will never be.
Time with this person will also magnify the things you’d hoped would be part of the ideal partner. Every time they hug a child, or kiss a puppy, or save someone from a burning building, or knit a tea cosy, you’ll be reminded of all the things you love about them, without being able to actually love them fully.
This is even more necessary in breakups. Exes who continue talking or spending time together tend to delay the inevitable and make the final split even more difficult when the time comes. Sure, it’s tempting to “get closure,” but we have to accept that sometimes closure is not part of the equation, and it simply needs to end on whatever note it’s on.
Now that you’re moving away from them (emotionally and physically), what’s next?
1: Understand it’s not immediate.
Moving on takes time, and that time is proportional to the amount of time you’ve been together. If you never actually dated but really liked the person, it should be much easier to move forward than if we’re talking about a long term relationship. But, regardless, feelings don’t simply disappear immediately unless they weren’t real to begin with.
Accepting this and allowing yourself the space and time to process the “loss” is important. So many people either:
a. Try to move on immediately by finding someone else.
or, b. Allow themselves to wallow in self-pity for far too long, that they never really process the emotions they’re feeling, and therefore never really move past them.
Just like feelings take time to develop, they also take time to wane and dissipate. Sometimes, there is always a lingering vapor of them left over, and that’s okay, too.
2: Explore YOUR passions and interests.
Next and possibly most important is, what are you now going to fill this space with?
Just like eliminating a bad habit, if you simply get rid of it, something else tends to take its place.
Whether or not that something else is another toxic influence or a positive one is up to you.
So, it’s important to take this opportunity to really reflect and ask yourself what your passions and interests are as an individual.
I once coached a 50 year old newly divorced man with 3 children. It was the first time in his adult life that he could make decisions that only affected him, and when I asked what types of social activities or hobbies he was interested in; he had no idea.
The things you choose to pursue when you’re by yourself help to mold and shape you into a well rounded and interesting person, which, not ironically, is one of the most attractive qualities we can have.
Building the life that you want to live is multi-dimensional. First, it allows you to be happy and fulfilled regardless of your relationship status.
Secondly, it puts you in the right places and around the right people where chances increase that you’ll find someone who’s right for you.
No matter how you cut it, using this time to focus on you is a win/win.
3: Learn from the experience.
Congratulations! You’ve moved on and feel like you’re free from this emotional weight again!
Now…let’s make sure it doesn’t happen again.
When we’re caught up in the throes of emotion it’s easy to overlook red flags and warning signs. We make excuses for poor behavior, or simply accept less than we deserve because we are so excited about this new person and their potential (key word) to be a great partner.
Now that you’re seeing clearly again, really take time to reflect about the things you might’ve overlooked. Maybe your family or friends tried to warn you, you ignored them, and they turned out to be right. What was it they saw that you didn’t?
What is really important to you in a partner and a relationship?
Not just your wants, but your needs.
Taking time to define these things and illustrating a strong visual of the person and relationship you want to attract is the key to maintaining boundaries and standards next time around.
If someone isn’t matching up with what (and who) you really want, it will be much easier to let them go and move forward when you recognize the signs early on.
Always remember: You are worthy of the love you are willing to give other people.
Anything less is simply unacceptable.
James Michael Sama is an internationally recognized speaker, author, and personal development coach.
Finding success in creating hundreds of viral articles and videos on building limitless confidence and healthier relationships, James has accumulated over 38 million visitors to his website and a collective social media following of over 400,000.
James speaks at live events and in the media across the U.S. and has become a go-to expert with outlets such as CNN, Bravo, The New York Post, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, CNBC, The Boston Globe, CBS, and more.
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