Why Do We Love People Who Don't Love Us Back?

We want what we can’t have. This is an undeniable reality of human desire. We crave the unattainable, the impossible, the stuff at the tip of our fingers but still slightly out of reach. We want blonde hair even though ours is red, blue eyes even though ours are brown, clothes that we can’t afford, fame that we can’t attain, and love that can’t love us back.

We romanticize the idea of unrequited love. It’s the stuff of poetry and romantic comedies and Taylor Swift songs. I’m the quirky, understatedly pretty, reads-a-lot-of-books best friend and he’s the popular, funny, irresistibly charming guy in love with the head cheerleader. It’s classic. Cliché. Not real.

Real love is a two-way street. Real love kisses you back, and answers your text messages, and doesn’t leave you wondering what if. You don’t have to convince real love to stay, it just does.

So why do we love people who don’t love us back? What is the appeal of pining after somebody who isn’t interested in returning our feelings? Why do we continue to fight for people who have made it clear that they don’t want us to?

Maybe we’ve started to believe all the scenarios we made up at 2 A.M. Maybe our imaginations are betraying us and all those pretend conversations and perfect kisses have fooled our hearts into thinking this could actually be something. Maybe you really do belong with me. But this isn’t a Taylor Swift song.

Unrequited love should not be a turn-on. We shouldn’t take selfies just to “make him see what he’s missing.” We shouldn’t stalk his girlfriend on Instagram to see if she’s prettier than we are. We shouldn’t be sending screenshots in our group chats over analyzing why Brad used emojis when we first started texting but now he doesn’t and what does that mean?

It’s not attractive when someone doesn’t like you back. We shouldn’t be attracted to someone who doesn’t like us back. Unrequited love is the stuff of poetry and romantic comedies and Taylor Swift songs. But when someone asks you what your “type” is, “not interested in me” should not be on the list. Unrequited love should not be a turn-on. Unrequited love is bullshit.

Related articles:

Want more HCW? Check us out on social media!