Anyone who has read my blogs knows that I love pulling lines from movies where the story line reflects real life. In the movie, The Holiday, Kate Winslet’s character is narrating the opening scene discussing different types of love. She defines, “unrequited love” as where one person loves another who, “can not and will not love you back.” Another blogger writes that unrequited love is, “a humiliating and cruel experience that can strip you of your dignity and self-respect.”
As a therapist, it’s very sorrowful to watch this type of love walk into your counseling office and know in your heart you can do nothing to save the poor wretched soul who is falling to pieces, while the disconnected spouse sits calmly nearby and has nothing to give. Fortunately, there ARE things the “pour soul” can do to change their circumstances, but that requires action on their side of the problem. Sadly, when so
meone is so deeply and miserably “in love” with, and so invested in pursuing and blaming another, they are unable to see or hear how to stop the pain. Some continue to come back to counseling, sobbing uncontrollably, screaming in frustrated anger, and bleed misery–for years. All the while, nothing changes.
I have seen this theme recently with women who have been married in this type of marriage for 20+ years. Every one of the women I’ve seen living these scenarios were abused (physically, sexually, emotionally) as children by their fathers or significant family members. Often, they are repeating the type of “committed” love they witnessed in their parent’s marriage. Most often, they are trying to get their needs met through unhealthy pursuit of a fantasy. Usually, they fear abandonment, and so are trying to control the feared outcome (abandoned again) by “loving more.” But there can never be enough love, because what they really need is to be loved back, and that’s just not happening.
So, what do I tell these women when they come to see me? I show them over, and over, and over, and over again who they are in God’s eyes. I share a perspective with them: The Bible says God created us “in his image,” meaning, we are mirror images of him. God knows us as we were created to be: “wonderfully made,” “marvelous” and all we are expected to do is “know” it. So, the beginning of change happens when we begin to believe in ourselves as God’s creation.
I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139.14
Secondly, I listen to their hurts and give their pain a safe place to be expressed. And once they’ve come to a place of acceptance, I ask them to let the past go because the past will continue to torture them as long as they let it.
“Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past.” Isaiah 43:18
I help them reach a place where they can begin to forgive themselves for all the pain they have experienced, caused, and to forgive others as well. Forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgiveness is not for the other person’s benefit. It is for the one doing the forgiving so healing can begin to take place. This is the only way they will be able to find closure and move on.
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13.
And finally, I offer them hope and encouragement that they can love again. Love is who God is, and love is what we were created to do. Unrequited love is not the love God designed; God loved us FIRST, and God continues to love us.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12
If you have found yourself in an unrequited love affair, please, please, please seek help. You are living a dream you dream alone. Call Encouragers Counseling & Training Centers and learn the truth about what REAL love is and how you too can have it.
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32