Sometimes love is easy, and sometimes it’s not. If you love someone and they love you, and you both are single and ready, it’s a glorious thing.
But what about when you love someone that you can’t be with?
Loving someone that you know you can never be with can be a difficult situation to navigate. Depending on the circumstances, you can either walk away from them and only enjoy them within your memory as “the one that got away,” or you can continue to be friends with them and try to control your feelings.
The latter is certainly not easy. But it is possible. And can be a truly wonderful thing.
Staying rational about your love for someone is a lot to ask. After all, love is an emotion, and emotions are hard to control. So how do you actively love someone without falling IN LOVE with them, when you know you can’t have them? Here are some tips:
1. Don’t get too close.
Allowing yourself to love someone that you know you can’t have means that you have to be very careful about how close you get to them. You have to ration how much you see them, talk to them and think about them. You have to consciously make the decision to keep your distance. It takes practice, but you can train yourself to love them without getting too close. The most important part of this step is to make sure you back away if you feel yourself starting to fall or getting attached. You can lie to everyone else, but you can’t lie to yourself. You know when you are starting to lose yourself in the emotions, and that should be your cue that it’s time to take a break.
Hopefully, you have an honest enough relationship with this person to be able to tell them why you are backing off, so they don’t feel like they are getting the hot and cold treatment from you. Taking breaks is important, and eventually, with enough practice, you can take very small breaks, because you won’t let yourself get close enough to need a big one.
2. Focus on the friendship.
Usually, when you truly love someone that you can’t be with, having them as a friend is far better than missing them every single day. It can be tricky when you have feelings involved, but if you focus on the friendship, you will eventually start to love them as a friend, and the connection can evolve from there. Discuss things with them as you would your friends, such as who you date. Yes, these types of conversations can sting for both of you the first couple of times, but it is critical to defining that line between friendship and relationship. Again, the more you practice this, the easier it becomes. Getting past that initial pang of jealousy can open you up to one of the most honest and beautiful friendships you have ever had.
3. Prepare yourself.
If they are single, you will have to prepare yourself for the day that they won’t be. You have to consciously picture them with someone else, every single day, and learn to be happy with that picture. You have to practice being happy for them when they move on, because if you truly love them, being happy for them when they find someone is part of the gig. They deserve to be happy, even if it’s not with you, right? So practice being happy for them when that day comes.
4. Soak it up.
Once you have mastered the previous 3 tips, you will be able to let go a little bit and let yourself soak it up. Soak up every smile, every laugh, every story, every conversation. Roll each experience around in your mouth as if you were savoring a fine wine. Let yourself enjoy every single minute with them, because you never know when it will change. Absorb all of the wonderful things that you love about that person, admire everything about them, and really FEEL each interaction with them.
Loving someone that you can’t be with is definitely hard. It can be sad, and lonely, and painful at times, but it can also be a wonderful thing, if you navigate it rationally. It takes practice, patience, and a heck of a lot of self control to pull it off, but it IS possible. Learn how to love the friendship and keep your head out of the clouds, and you won’t have to miss out on having them in your life, simply because you cannot be together. We can’t control who we love, but we can control how we handle it.