Double Take: Real Life Advice for Parents and Teens–Unrequited Love
I think I’m falling in love with a guy who I know is not in love with me. He keeps telling me that we’re only friends. Why can’t I hear him? I keep thinking he’s going to finally see me as the perfect girl for him, because I know I am.
Miranda: This letter sounds like a lot of romantic comedies I’ve seen. The girl likes the guy, but he doesn’t get it. Some sort of mix up happens, then he likes her back and they end up happily ever after and a sappy song plays as it fades to black.
Sadly, movies aren’t real life but they have trained a whole generation of women to think that this is how relationships work. There are a couple problems with this fantasy. Call me a romance realist but there is no such thing as the “perfect girl” or “perfect guy” for anyone. Relationships are not built on perfection and the myth of “happily ever after.” They are made of patience, effort and mutual respect.
Clearly this guy doesn’t feel the same way about you that you do about him, and he’s made that clear to you multiple times. So, it’s time to move on. Of course, anyone who’s been through heartbreak will tell you that’s easier said than done, but it is possible. Create as much distance from this guy as you can, until you feel comfortable being only his friend and nothing more.
Your expectations for this relationship have become unrealistic. I wouldn’t be surprised if you compare him to other guys you might be with and find they just don’t seem to measure up. Girls tend to do this. We build up the perfect relationship in our head, making it hard for real life to compete.
If this guy doesn’t like you in the way you like him, find some of the others out there who do and devote your time to them. Don’t think he’s the only one, even though it may seem that way now. Someday he may come around and you two could make it work, but why wait for someday?
I hope you find someone who values you as much as you value him.
Dr. Wes: One of my favorite romantic movies is 500 Days of Summer, in which a booming-voice announcer warns us in the very beginning that “this not a love story.” We’re pretty sure he’s lying, because just as Miranda suggests, we’re programmed to invest ourselves in the romantic ideal of love, and we are quite certain that no film with two cute young adults could end any other way. Spoiler alert! This one does and every teenager and young adult should see it to understand why. The moral of the story is complex and simple: The purpose of relationships is not to end in “happily every after,” but to change and mold us until we eventually find our life partner.
I agree that there is no perfect person out there waiting to meet every need you imagine this guy fulfilling, but I’ve been at this long enough to know that there are several someones out there that you’ll be perfect with. This guy is not one of them. How do I know that? The same way you do. He’s trying to tell you and you can’t hear him because you don’t want it to be true.
Dating is like the wheel of fortune, except there are two wheels—his and yours. When you enter a relationship you’re spinning your wheel and he spins his. Apparently you feel you hit $1,000,000 with this guy, and he’s at around $500. He likes you, but not like you want him to. Your choice is to pester him until he realizes that he’s misread the wheel, or just spin again and again until both of you hit the jackpot. And as for being friends with someone you love, I vote no. Of all the problems young people get into these days in relationship building, “we can still be friends” is one of the most heartbreaking. It should be obvious at this point as to why and you’re “friends with benefits,” the stakes are that much higher.
All this takes more patience and investment of time and energy than many young people want to tolerate. It would be a lot easier if relationships could be love at first sight, dramatic, passionate and permanent. But the best place to find one of those is on the big screen or on Amazon. Luckily, if you work at it, real love is worth the wait and it will last through both the difficulties and joys of life.
Wes Crenshaw, PhD is board certified in family and couples psychology (ABPP), and author of the booksDear Dr. Wes: Real Life Advice for Teens and Dear Dr. Wes: Real Life Advice for Parents of Teens. Learn about his writing and practice at www.dr-wes.com. Miranda Davis is a Free State High School senior who has co-authored the column since August 2011, and is the eighth in a series of teen co-authors. Send your confidential 200-word question on adolescence and parenting to firstname.lastname@example.org. The column is reprinted from Double Take, published weekly since 2004 in The Lawrence Journal World. Opinions and advice are not a substitute for psychological services.
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