Unreciprocated feelings aren’t fun to deal with, obviously. Nothing new here.
Having fallen in and out of love countless times, I’m now of the view that falling out of love is a skill that can be mastered by anyone, with a little dedication and patience. In fact, I think I got it down to an art.
Here are my top ten tips for falling out of love.
1. Allow yourself the indulgence of being hung up on them (for a while)
This will seem to contradict some of the other points lower down on this list. But it doesn’t really.
Permit yourself the hollowing, existential loneliness, sadness and disappointment you feel about the loss of this person’s love. Doing this will help you to sidestep some of the more tempting (but ultimately distracting) emotions of hate, denial and rage.
2. Write them a letter (don’t send it)
I find this helpful in managing any urges I have to communicate how I feel. Because really, they aren’t interested in how you feel. If they were, there wouldn’t be any need to fall out of love with them, would there?
Write a big ass letter about why they’re making the worst decision of their life, or how you wish you had gone travelling together, or whatever it is. Then tuck it away into your drawer where noone will see it.
Alternatively, if you’re feeling exhibitionist, publish it on medium. Or adapt it into a song and sell it (or sing it). Pain has made very good love songs, not to mention viral articles and books.
3. Stop giving them so much attention
Do you know what this takes, that you might not have a lot of right now?
The biggest step you can take in falling out of love with someone is simply to stop giving them so much mental bandwidth. I am not saying that you should deny your feelings. But just don’t bother ruminating on the past or how great this person is or how perfect they are for you (if only they could just see it, god damn it).
I know you’re sick of being told (because I’m sick of writing it), but how you get better at diverting your thoughts is by practicing mindfulness. Those that do are naturally more in control of what thoughts they are feeding.
4. Double check that you haven’t got too much time on your hands
Looking back, I can see that sometimes I have fallen in love for want of something else to do with my time.
Ever been there?
Falling out of love with someone happens a lot quicker when you turn your attentions to fulfilling projects and passtimes. If you haven’t got any, then I would consider working on that.
Because falling in love when you’re really busy is the real deal.
5. Figure out what was so captivating about this person – and start noticing the quality in other guys or girls
(Or better still, stop projecting and own the quality yourself.)
I had been hung up on this one guy for a few months.
And then one day, I was standing in a queue at the airport, and I saw what I was so attracted to in him in a complete stranger. The two guys didn’t even really look alike; it was the airport guy’s manner, his charisma and the way he was animated, that reminded me of the guy I was hung up on.
Maybe this won’t be so simple for you. Maybe the object of your frustrated desires really did have that unique combination of characteristics that made them irresistible to you.
Probably not though.
In reality, whatever you liked about them will be available in another shiny package. A package that might even love you back.
6. Remove the blinkers
We tend to remember only the good stuff don’t we? How funny they were; how charming with our friends and families. How great the sex was.
Be under no illusions though, about how many illusions you are under. Love makes us go crazy. Shakespeare knew it. Your mum knows it. Everybody who has ever lived and loved knows it.
So if you are going to let yourself think about them, do yourself a favor and make the picture well rounded. Include the times that they were curt with you in the car, and wouldn’t hold your hand.
7. Know that being in love is a temporary, delusional state
Even when we stay with a person, we never stay in that heady state. Not consistently anyway.
Being in love is a fleeting feeling at best. Not to be mistaken with real love, which is a choice we have to choose to make again and again (and again. And again).
8. Discuss them with an unbiased outsider
In order for this to help, you need to be able to regale the facts without coloring the picture with your emotions and story; you need to be descriptive about your time together with this person.
Recently I was chatting about a ‘one that got away’ with a new friend of mine. My new friend, listening to me describe my time with the guy, asked me what it was I liked about him so much (and didn’t hide his incredulousness). I have to admit, it helped me to kick any residual delusional desires I had to be with the person.
9. Remind yourself that nothing good gets away
If this person isn’t in your life, it is because it isn’t right for them or you, and in all likelihood both of you. So don’t fight that.
In fact, don’t resist anything. It makes you uptight, and it gets in the way of opportunities and happenstance.
10. Fall in love with someone new
And let the whole circus begin again.
Who knows, maybe it will be your last. 🙂