I think a lot of us can relate to having, at one time or another, experienced unrequited love, whether it was actually love, like, or a temporary but all-consuming infatuation. For anyone that's unfamiliar with the term, "unrequited" means "not returned or reciprocated," usually referring to a feeling (typically love). And anyone that has experienced unrequited love at some point knows exactly how much it sucks.
The thing is that when you're dealing with an unrequited like/love, there are so many obvious signs, but we continue to pretend that they're not there because we want it to work out so badly. It might start out subtle, almost unnoticeable. Your hopeful SO stopped texting you good morning--in fact, he hasn't even texted you first in almost a week. WTF. You start to feel a little panicked, but then your friend points out that his overall text tone hasn't changed, so it's probably nothing. Calm the fuck down. He'll text you. I mean, he seemed super interested when he kissed you good night at the end of your last date, so you're okay with overlooking his obvious distance and lack of attention.
When he does finally text back, you purposely take longer to reply (to give the appearance that you're not just sitting around staring angrily at your phone--he doesn't need to know what you're actually doing) and try and make your replies extra cute and witty (as if that's going to do the trick). You continue making excuses for his sudden digital disappearance. He's just super busy at work this week. (We've all done this. There's no shame in admitting it.) You're trying to play the game, but become desperate to hear something from this person. Eventually, you work up the courage to send a not-so-passive aggressive text message, asking point blank, WTF is the deal, bro? Very few good, lasting relationships begin with that kind of an ultimatum, so very few of such messages are usually not responded to.
And the like/love will now most likely always be unrequited.
The thing I find kind of comforting is the fact when I'm met with an unrequited like is that Darcy himself had to deal with unrequited love when Elizabeth rejected his first proposal:
In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.
"Elizabeth's astonishment was beyond expression. She started, coloured, doubted, and was silent."
Okay. I'm totally aware that Darcy wasn't worth her hand at this point in the novel. He had a lot of growing up to do before she finally accepted him But still. I've heard that one of the longest silences a man can experience is the one that follows a marriage proposal, so it's hard not to feel for him when his proclamation of love is met with silence. That's just cold.
It is so easy to get discouraged after experiencing an unrequited love. No one likes rejection. It prompts you to take a look at yourself and wonder why this nice, smart, cute guy rejected you so abruptly and ever-so douchily. (Yes. That's now going to be a word.) I mean, it's not like you openly declared your love to this person--you probably never even told them point blank that you liked them. I'm assuming you guys aren't proposing after like two dates, asking this almost stranger to be yours for always and forever. In The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde wrote:
'Always!' That is a dreadful word. It makes me shudder when I hear it. Women are so fond of using it. They spoil every romance by trying to make it last for ever. It is a meaningless word, too. The only difference between a caprice and a life-long passion is that the caprice lasts a little longer.
Using the word "always" has some pretty heavy meaning, and I wouldn't ever throw it into a conversation with a potential SO. There's nothing that scares a guy away faster than being too emotionally invested too quickly. But at the same time, we're not looking for a "caprice," as Wilde phrases it. A caprice is a sudden and unaccountable change in mood/behavior. But neither am I looking for passion; it just isn't usually something that lasts "life-long."
I think if you're really lucky, the initial passion of a relationship can morph into a deep, meaningful friendship that can actually endure over time. Passion is associated with fire, and fire fizzles. I don't know about you, but I'd prefer to not have my relationship fizzle. I'd much rather date/marry someone I can talk to for hours and never tire of. (Bonus if he's super hot.) I like to think Darcy and Elizabeth became best friends once they married--not the way Jane and Lizzy were friends and sisters, though. Darcy and Elizabeth had the sort of relationship that forces them to grow and change (and most likely compromise).
So I'm going to choose to look at unrequited love as a blessing in disguise. It sucks; there's no way getting around that. It just does. But think about it this way: Do you really want to date someone who doesn't make you a priority? No. No one is looking for a completely one-sided relationship. Something that always comforts me is a quote from my favorite rom-com, He's Just Not That Into You: "If a guy wants to see you, he will make it happen. No matter what." Also, never forget that "if a guy is treating you like he doesn't give a shit, he genuinely doesn't give a shit."
(I prefer to think of that concluding sentence as incredibly empowering rather than mildly depressing.)