I’ve always been a big fan of heart-breaking romances. I thought it was super romantic when the hero or heroine of a story waits for his or her love to return or spends the rest of their life dedicated to the memory of that person. But I recently went through a heartbreak that has shown me that eternally yearning for someone who isn’t around is not something I actually want to experience in real life.
Over the past two years, I developed a mega-crush on a close guy friend. Neither of us lived in the same place so things developed slowly. As time went on, I had moments of doubt, but also a lot of moments in prayer that encouraged me more and more. Finally a few months ago, I spilled the beans after a long year or so of waiting. The result wasn’t what I had hoped for.
His response to my expression of feelings for him was a no, but it was also ambiguous. I had friends who explained to me that this kind of thing worked out all the time; sometimes friends realize later on that they were meant to be. Add to this, there were some signs in prayer that seemed to be telling me that this should work. I didn’t know what to do.
A few months passed by, and he and I continued to keep some contact, but I never received a dramatic phone call in which he confessed that he felt the same way. No romantic comedy ending. I kept asking myself these questions:
What should I do? Should I hold on? When should I move on?
I began to think about what advice I would give a friend who was going through the same thing. Would you let your friend continue to pine for this person? If not, it’s time to move on. Love isn’t meant to be one-sided. It’s hard to let someone go, but you deserve a love that’s going to give back to you as well.
I believe you should give yourself proper time to grieve, but I also think that you should move on if it’s not working out.
So how do we move on? I fumbled around with this at first. I allowed myself a month or so to listen to sad Coldplay songs, watch sappy romance movies, read more sappy romantic books, and so forth.
After I had enough wallowing, I decided to write a letter to this guy—not to actually send, but to help me process my thoughts. In that letter, I let it all out; I made sure everything that I was feeling was laid bare. Then I burned the letter; psychotic it may sound, but doing this helped me release that emotion.
Burning the letter became a sort of “vow” to move on. I stopped listening to the trigger songs and I stopped watching the sappy romances that I knew would make me sad. Whenever I started to think about what I wished I had with him, I forced myself not to. This may sound like a form of repression or not allowing myself to feel, but it’s actually a way of preventing myself from backsliding into sadness again.
The idea of someone changing their mind and coming back or coming to reciprocate romantic feelings is romantic—terribly so. But wasting away for someone or missing out on another opportunity is not. Planning your life around someone isn’t fair to you when they don’t reciprocate.
Romantic comedies sometimes give us an unrealistic view of love, but they also give us something to aspire to. Maybe love doesn’t unfold the same way a movie plot does, sometimes lovers don’t reunite. But I do know that love exists, it’s real, and it’s somewhere out there waiting for you and me to find it.