Unrequited Love

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Warm Greetings! A girl/woman I barely/hardly knew did something extraordinarily brave and that most likely saved my life six months ago.

While profound gratitude ruled my head and heart for the first month or so after the incident, it gradually gave way to love/romantic inclination. And I have confessed the same to her.

She understands and says she is totally honored, but not in a position to reciprocate and at the same time, she is terrified of losing my friendship because of that.

From what I understand, she has gone through quite a few relationships and the last one was bitter as she was conned by a man dating multiple people. Hence her sense of insecurity.

I honestly don’t know how to handle myself, coz, that selfless act of courage is something that has gone so deep within my inner self, I cannot spend a day without thinking about her – even though she says with time she might be able to reciprocate and have a relationship, has advised me to not wait for her – but there is no way I can think of approaching someone else without measuring/comparing that person with her!

Once again, she values my friendship so dearly, she would be deeply hurt if I ignore her – I care about her deeply, and given her past, have told her how protective I feel towards her. Particularly because, I am convinced she puts her trust on people who take advantage of her natural kindness and empathy, but just have no respect for either her time or herself. I have seen this first hand.

Any tips/advice on what is going on would be much appreciated.

much appreciation and gratitude.

A. Your friend has made it very clear that she does not want a romantic relationship with you at this time. You stated in your correspondence that she did a heroic act that likely saved your life. You’ve also stated that you are deeply in her debt.

If you really do believe that you are deeply in her debt, then you should honor her wishes. Her wishes include maintaining your friendship and not entering into a romantic relationship at this time.

You stated that you are convinced that she trusts the wrong people and she has and will be hurt because of this. You may and probably already have told her your thoughts on this subject. Remember, you cannot think for her nor can you force your feelings and beliefs upon her. To do so would be abusing the very person that you are trying to protect.

I don’t know exactly what she did for you that you have found to be so courageous and life-saving. Whatever it was, she did it willingly, voluntarily and without thought of any type of compensation. It was a very caring, selfless, generous act on her part. You cheapen her life-saving act as by stressing the issue of “payback.”

Indeed, you are in her debt. But only she is entitled to specify whether she wants the debt repaid and, if she does, in what form. You are in essence only offering to repay the debt by offering her a romantic relationship.

If you truly feel that you are in her debt, then you must honor her wishes. My advice to you is to remain her friend, to ask absolutely nothing more from her and simply wait to see whether she wishes to have a romantic relationship with you.

No matter what happens romantically, by respecting her wishes you have at least in part repaid your debt.

I wish you the best of luck.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Jan 2014

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2013). Unrequited Love. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 30, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/01/05/unrequited-love/