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You Belong With Me, But Not Really: My Thoughts And Journey With Unrequited Love

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Before my first love, I was a hopeless romantic. Every crush I had was the person I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. Even in kindergarten. The boy that stole my colored pencils in first grade is still the one that got away. My mother had a hard time keeping track of the object of my affection, many auditioned for the role but never received a callback. I’ve always been more than willing to talk about the personal ordeal of having crushes and getting crushed simultaneously, but I’ve narrowly avoided the subject of love for as long as I could. It’s not that I don’t think about love anymore, but what initially would consume most of my thoughts has become a more controlled state of affection. Nowadays, I can discuss my very first love without spiraling into emotional exhaustion. 

The love bug bit me but I was left to nurse the injury by myself, stuck with too many unrequited feelings in my heart that never found reciprocation. Five years. I was in love with the same boy for five years and it blew up in my face. But you know what? I’m glad it did. Here’s what went down:

We used to be close friends, but he was one of those people that you quickly grow attached to but fail to notice until others begin to point it out. He was one of my favorite people. I found myself missing him during Christmas break and I would go full emo during summer vacation due to my lack of interactions with him. I hadn’t noticed my feelings at first; there were plenty of friends that I was beginning to miss over the holiday break and I just thought that he was another name on the list. Yet, the knowing smile on my mother’s face ticked me off, and she wouldn’t let me babble on about him in peace without making me feel self-conscious. “You mention him a lot,” she would say and that would shut me up in an instant. I did not mention him that much; she was just being dramatic. But things would get so much worse every time I got to see him again. Every year we were closer to our inevitable graduation and I was falling deeper every day. Nonetheless, I was more than happy to ignore it at the sight of his smileーhis stupid, amazing smile. 

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The idea of loving him started to seep into my brain when a teacher made a comment to me about us. Supposedly, a lot of people thought that we were going to end up together because they had noticed our chemistry. That pretty much sealed my fate and drove me crazy. My mind was going a million miles per minute. What did she mean? What was happening between us that people had noticed? Every little interaction, every precious fragment of our friendship was now up for inspection. I needed to get to the bottom of it, when it finally clicked. The sense of fulfillment that warmed my heart whenever I made him laugh. The peace that soothed my ever present nerves whenever I was near him. The glimpses of vulnerability he would share with me, eyeing me with nervousness as if I would ever take him for granted. Knowing him felt like the greatest gift life had given me back then: I was in love. 

One thing about me is that I grew up watching romcoms and I was thrilled to think that I was starring in my very own fairy tale. Though I’ve always preferred the enemies-to-lovers trope, friends to lovers was a dynamic that I accepted with open arms. It was such a wild ride to think about people wanting us together.. In retrospect, I wish I had noticed how hyper fixated I had been on the opinions of others; on the words of reassurance from those who weren’t participating in our friendship. They lead me to think that my feelings were requited, without really knowing us. I was losing sight of my friend, clouds of rain surrounding who I had thought to be my Sun. I was reading into his every move as if it were the next chapter after a massive cliffhanger. Although I was confident at the beginning, as if we were a sure thing, the idea of losing him was enough to keep me quiet. I couldn’t imagine having him end our friendship, severing the bond we shared. That terror felt like my soul was warning me, begging me to pull away first but I didn’t listen.

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When you’re in love and you start to realize that there’s only one of you looking at things from a romantic perspective, the excitement mellows down, giving way to dread. You’re no longer light on your feet but treading lightly, fearful of finding anything that could confirm what your heart has already begun to grieve. The gleam in my eyes lessened at the full picture. Oh God, I was in love with someone who had their eyes on another. Years later, I found out that it had always been her, not me, and also that my teacher needed an eye exam. That lovesick gaze had never been for me, no matter how strong our connection had been. He did care for me, but there was no burning desire for anything else. Whispers of gossip in the bathroom with my friends became solo crying sessions before class. The supporters that had enabled my hope grew quiet, considering that they had come to the same conclusion that had shocked me. He was happy in his pursuit of her and I was just the friend that came off as bitter because I couldn’t wrap my head around being a supporting character. Our love story had never cast me in the lead role. I was just the writer with unchecked ambition.

We drifted apart, tension brewing from the way things had unfolded. My teenage heart had taken permanent residence on the floor. I wanted to continue our friendship but I felt snubbed, like I had given so much of myself and he didn’t even miss me. Not as a potential love interest, but as a friend. I had been tossed aside, and I carried too many memories of someone that I barely recognized towards the end of our senior year. In a last ditch effort, I decided that in order to properly let him go, I needed to tell him how I had felt. Of course, I used past tense when speaking to him to salvage what was left of my dignity. ‘I liked you’ was a nice way to cover the ‘I love you’ that I thought I wanted to say. My freedom from unrequited love came at the price of losing my friend entirely. Our last interactions as teenagers were strained, and things had gone from tense to downright awkward. My heart broke a second time at the realization that our friendship was conditional, and that I had been reduced to the poor girl that had a crush on him all those years. 

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Now that I’ve hopefully matured, writing about this has been a rollercoaster. When our relationship with another person loses its relevance in our lives, we tend to cling to those final moments, allowing them to eclipse the beginning while ruling out the middle part. Through these paragraphs that attempted to pick apart five years of my life, I remembered it all too well. The beginning, the strength that a young girl shows when loving someone; and my friend who never truly came back to me, who never smiled at me the same or allowed me to be there for him ever again. I think I’ll miss him forever. Please don’t get me wrong, he’s grown into a great man that I care about very much. But the boy I had fallen in love with, the one that I willingly humiliated myself for, still revisits my memories. He’s the ghost of a feeling, rather than a person. And the middle part, when I realized too many things and cried my weight in tears? That can stay in the deep recesses of my mind.

Teenage me should cover her eyes because I’ve long since come to the conclusion that her first love was doomed to fail. She prepared a pedestal where she placed a potential love story and worked overtime on trying to make it real. It was more the promise of it all, the possibility of love that drove her to a hyper fixation. Sure, she was in love, but it lacked honesty. She wanted a highschool sweetheart so bad that she tried her hardest to be someone that he would like and she ended up becoming someone that she couldn’t stand. A lesson learned. My days of being a hopeless romantic feel far behind me. Please, don’t think that my first love ruined me. I’m perfectly fine, but I never want to feel like that ever again. I never want to mistake unrequited love for nobility, to think that I deserve someone simply because I’m willing to suffer my feelings in silence. I wasn’t the hero of my own story, and my actions enabled the repeated stomping of my own heart. While I’m grateful to have encountered love at such a young age, I am also willing to wait for the whirlwind romance that I deserve.

Elisabet Ramírez is an Education in English major, with a minor in Acting. An artist at heart, she enjoys writing short stories, comedy routines and scripts. You can always find her typing furiously in the notes app on her phone or learning the dialogue from movie scenes by heart.