Unrequited love—such a wretched state of affairs! one of life’s most painful and difficult emotional conditions (aside from those very few conditions and situations which might possibly be of an even somewhat more likely directly life-threatening or health-compromising sort).
Not long ago I was discussing such things with a friend (a platonic female friend). I confessed that I don’t always know for sure which I detest most: inadvertently, unavoidably wounding some innocent person through being unable to reciprocate their romantic interest in me (however rarely that happens), or being wounded through falling in love toward a woman who, however otherwise wonderful, happens to have no romantic interest in me!
My friend confessed that she found it much worse to have to turn someone down in such a way than to undergo having someone turn her down — “Oh! it’s ten times worse, at least,” she said, “to have to deliver that kind of rejection to someone than to receive it myself.” I remain slightly uncertain. In my own case at least, it has sometimes depended on just how much or little depth/intensity of feeling is or isn’t involved on one or the other side. Among perhaps other factors—such as, often, how little or well the other person and I may actually already know each other (at least outwardly, socially) before one of us begins crushing unrequitedly on the other.
Not that I’m aware of all that many persons, well-known to me or more often barely known at the time, who have conceived unrequited crushes on me! But it has been known to happen, and even continues to happen occasionally still—somewhat startlingly, & rather more frequently than would seem at all plausible. Often—not always, but rather often in such relatively rare cases—I sadly just do not happen to feel romantic responses toward these innocently appreciative and doubtlessly wonderful and admirable persons. But I certainly do sympathize/empathize to the point of pain & sorrow on their behalf and I always strive to be as kind and gentle and reassuring and uplifting as possible! To whatever inadequate avail.
Oddly, or not, the romantic love any two people feel is not always for each other! And this so often causes extreme distress. At least for some time. And so much of this distress seems unnecessary, though I have no solution to its seeming perennial ubiquity! Extreme delicacy of feeling and behavior certainly always helps in such cases, but nevertheless we’ve probably all been both hurt at times and at other times have been a source or agent of hurt to others, unintentionally and often even unknowingly. Life can be rough! Compassion makes a real difference.
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. (saith Leo Buscaglia)
In my own life, I’m more often than not (?—or so it seems), the one who feels more-than-mild to, on relatively rare occasions, overwhelmingly-great crushing (& often utterly unsolicited/uninvited) romantic feelings toward someone who turns out to be not even remotely close to available and/or not even slightly romantically inclined toward me in return.
C’est la vie! C’est l’amour!
Cette bête noire damné!
Il n’y a pas de mots! Say no mo‘!
Unrequited love is always just terrible, from either side, of course! But all my empathic sorrow to the contrary notwithstanding, and unlike my friend mentioned above, I’m pretty sure the more acute and lasting pain I’ve felt has most often been greater when I’ve been turned down than when I myself have had to do the turning down of some poor woman who has innocently felt some greater affection for me than I’ve solicited or have been able to offer her in return. Still, it is sometimes heartbreaking to be unable to return someone else’s romantic love, perhaps especially when we do love the person but only in a platonic way, and know that our rejection of their affections will likely lead to the loss of an actual or promising good friend, a wonderfully good person in our life….
In any case, I’ve never sought to elicit any romantic interest I didn’t also feel from my side—of course! I’m not some ridiculous awful heartless or twisted cad! (What is the feminine for cad? b-word? other c-word?) Nevertheless, at the same time I’m always open, when not already in a relationship or on a scheduled necessary period of solitude, to considering most any potentially healthy, plausible romantic offer. I just don’t solicit them, or return them, unless of course I’m also feeling the crush myself! I would never exploit or take devious advantage of someone’s heart! Great Scott! Nor—to the extent I have been aware at any time of another person’s unsolicited tendre toward me—have I ever been unkindly indifferent toward anyone’s tender feelings, nor simply allowed such misplaced affection and/or related apparent misunderstanding to go forward unchecked! How could anyone abide any such slithery worminess?
Sometimes it’s just bald egos getting in the way of translucent communication. Communicative friction/failure is usually just inner/ambient ego interference. Communication and attunement are best and most spontaneous when egos are least puffy and prickly. Sometimes a lack of being on the same wave-length of communication is due to craven fear—fear of rejection leading to fear of intimacy leading to all sorts of shield-raising and distortions of perception & half-subconscious urges to weird reactive ploys and defensive dartings and corner-cutting incongruous segues. And I say, _ _ _ _ all that _ _ _ _.
I’ve encountered some alarming attitudes and behaviors! I have also sometimes simply but perhaps grossly misunderstood others as well as been inadvertently misunderstood by others. Yet usually (I hope & trust) through no indifference, heedlessness, or particular thoughtlessness on my part. While it can be an offense (innocently unintended and unavoidable) to feel romantic love for someone without benefit of their personal invitation to do so, emotional villainy (coercive or otherwise) on either side is disgusting.
Who has not been on both sides of unrequited crushes and far worse heartbreak? Like it or not, we are all innocent carriers of each others’ good and bad karma even when we have no wish to play such roles and/or little or no knowledge of doing so. We are all karmic postal carriers delivering each others’ own previously self-addressed stamped and mailed envelopes without knowing what’s inside each others’ packets, what’s in store for each other, for ourselves, as a result of our own past actions and words, mental and emotional intentions and communications of all silent and expressed sorts.
We all know that what we reap is only what we have sown. We don’t always suspect what karmic mail we are about to deliver or receive. Thrown for a loop again and again! “Why do I keep falling for such jerks?—do I not deserve someone so much better?” “Why do these sweet & earnest persons keep thinking I’ve been encouraging them? All I’ve ever done or said has just been to be polite and not to be some sort of bitch/jerk! Which of us is the bigger masochist, sadist, or sado-masochist?”
Still, it is sometimes hard to wear karmic shoes that justly “fit” just because we bought them, perhaps unwisely, at some point in the past and have brought them along with us today because “shoes are required” and these are now the only ones we have at hand. Nature does not play dice. The Law of Cause and Effect is not arbitrary.
In this macrocosmic-microcosmic universe, “The unity of cause and effect is adorable!” (Rk Ved 1.1.1). And it is sincere compassion, friendliness, fellow-feeling, empathy, goodwill, loving-kindness, and a great deal of patience and generosity—toward ourselves and others!—that is the key to transforming karma (automatic natural action/reaction) into dharma (conscious evolution, eco-social justice and peace, grounded in and nurturing of universal life-supporting and life-enhancing selfless love and mutual aide). When we live with loving regard and support for Nature and our fellow natural creatures, Nature works to support us. But sometimes Nature’s love is tough love, indeed.