Letting Go

Written by
Michael Wells

Letting Go

When Someone Won't Love You Back

Written by
Michael Wells

Letting Go

When Someone Won't Love You Back

Written by
Michael Wells
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QUESTION
“How do I stop having feelings for someone who doesn't feel the same way?”

Let’s call this someone Mike, just to give him a name. Plus… the name Mike is exceptionally cool. Everyone should be named Mike.

What you’re feeling isn’t actually “I need Mike.”

At least two very different things are happening in two very separate parts of your brain.

  1. First, your emotional mind is generating feeling that motivate you to want social connection. You might describe these feelings as… “I desire a partner”… “I desire a companion”… “I desire security”… or “I want sex.” All of these are part of your social-connection emotional drives. They are part of your survival instincts.
  2. Second, your thinking, rational mind observes those intense feelings, and tries to explain them. Because of where you are, and who is around you, and the first candidate that comes to mind is Mike.

The reason this is so confusing, is that these two parts of the brain can’t really communicate well, without a whole lot of practice.

Your rational mind and your emotional mind speak very different languages, and in very different ways. They are also both speaking at the same time, which is why your thoughts (“I want sexy abs”) and your feelings (“I want pizza”) often conflict.

Your rational mind sees this strong emotional sensation, and immediately looks for rational, external explanation first. And… Mike is the most obvious candidate, so your brain immediately concludes-

Mike is making me feel this way.

But, that’s wrong. Mike didn’t make you feel a single thing.

It’s important to see this, or you will always be a slave to your thoughts and emotions, and tossed about like a tiny boat in a tsunami. Life isn’t fun that way.

Most people don’t realize this, but your emotions pretty much always come first, and then your thoughts arise as a reaction to them. You might feel stressed, and then start explaining WHY your stressed. You might feel desire, and then start explaining WHAT you need to have to quench it.

So what can you do?

Step back, outside of yourself, and look at your thoughts from the outside- the same way you’d look at a friend’s thinking. The more objective you can get, the more clearly you’ll understand them.

Mike isn’t the reason you’re feeling these emotions. He just happens to represent something your emotional mind thinks you need. So you can take Mike out of the picture, and start looking at the emotions directly.

What is it that your emotional mind thinks you need?

In relationships, this is usually security, friendship, company, sex and emotional connection. A feeling that you matter to someone and that they’ll be there for you.

I encourage you to grab a piece of paper, and write down exactly what you imagine “Mike” would add to your life. Of course you have no idea, if you’ve never had a relationship with him, but here what you imagine is more important.

Because what you imagine is what’s drive your emotions.

When you can clearly see those things that your emotions are telling you that you need, you can question them.

  • Do I really need those things? If yes, why?
  • How else can I get them? What kind of relationships do I have, and what kinds of relationships do I need?
  • Why this guy? What is it about him that make my emotional mind react in this way?
  • What action should I take next?

Chances are, Mike isn’t really that special. He almost certainly isn’t everything you imagine. And clearly, he’s not presently in a place where he seems to be pursuing those same things- so he’s probably not the guy you can build this ideal life you’re imagining with.

Let go of those fantasies. Kill them hard, they will just create distress and anxiety for you. Maybe ask Mike out, you’ll know pretty quickly whether something is possible there, and be OK if it’s not. If it’s not, you haven’t lost a thing, and you’ve gained your freedom from that fantasy.

Is it hard? Heck yeah. But it’s essential for your happiness.

One you’ve gotten a clear perspective on the reality inside your head and in the world outside of you, you’ll have a much clearer understanding of exactly what you want in life, and where you might be able to create that.

Mike may not be an option for what you want, and that’s cool. He may not be able to give you what you want, any more than a billboard photo of Papa John’s pizza can satisfy your hunger.

Your brain wants “That perfect relationship with Mike” it to be real, but you have to actually find out. No matter what happens - whether you move forward, or have to let go - you’ll be able to move better towards your dreams.

Enjoy the journey, it’s awesome.

SERIES

This article is part of the series 

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No items found.

This series is under development and further articles will be added soon.

First published on 
. Last updated on 
February 12, 2022

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      References

      Addendum

      This article is about feeling lovelorn, or suffering from unrequited love. However it's just as applicable if you're in a relationship where your partner won't love you back in the way that you love them.