It Takes TwoI cannot say that I knew the power and despondency of unrequited love until about a year back. I had begun writing a sizeable project and had been looking in vain for someone to edit my work. It was a project that totally engaged me, and as such, I feared rejection and overly harsh criticism.
I found hope in someone I had known from college who was living in my city, and who I had seen on various occassions. She had writing experience, so I took a chance and told her what I was doing and what I hoped to get out of my project. She expressed a great deal of interest, and I sent her what I had.
Her help with the project was amazing. I felt like I was living in a dream to have found someone who could provide such tremendous assistance to my project. As we continued to meet and I as I continued to review her comments and ideas, I found myself falling deeply for her.
What to do in such a situation? Reveal my feelings somehow and risk losing a friend and contributor to my own project? Or take a chance that something quite beautiful might grow out of this working relationship?
I took a middle path of sorts -- drop large hints about my feelings but not announce anything, see how she responded, and take it from there. So I would call on the weekends to see what she might be doing, or after our meetings I would ask her to dinner or to go for a walk, something along those lines. At all times, my advances were rejected, and I surmised that she simply wasn't interested. At this point I was hoping for more but again I was afraid to lose what I had with her.
Yet as we continued to meet and discuss I could swear that she liked me as well. My intuition was ringing loud and clear that she had feelings for me, which made things all the more confusing as my increasingly risk-less suggestions were continually rebuffed.
After we had gotten through a first draft, I asked her if she could help me with a second draft and she readily agreed. I began in earnest to write and I found myself writing not only for me, but for her as well. I couldn't wait to share with her what I was writing.
Then, everything collapsed. Suddenly, one day, she stopped returning my phone calls and writing back to my emails. I didn't know what to do -- the one person with whom I could speak to about my writing decided no longer to be a part of my life in any manner. I was crushed.
I kept working on the project by myself but it was difficult to do so because at every moment I was continually reminded of her influence. I sent her an email once a month for a few months to see if she might be willing to talk to me. She responded occassionally with short one line responses, certainly nothing of great emotional value. It took me considerable time to get over her.
We don't choose our attractions to others; rather, the attractions choose us. But what we decide to do with those attractions -- ignore them or cultivate them -- is the essence of choice and also the essence of love. After all, when we are in love with someone, do we not decide at every moment to continue to love them? That no matter the physical appearance, financial situation, or emotional hardship our lover goes through, we have chosen to create and maintain a unique bond of affection, trust, and sexuality?
And it is here where we encounter the unique pain of unrequited love. Unrequited love is the knowledge that our imagination and our feelings have made that choice, but our actions have yet to manifest them into reality. The unrequited lover pines, hopes, and fantasizes, but somehow can never figure out how to incarnate the glorious potential of that love. The passion of the emotion energizes the soul but also chars it. Without any outlet, unrequited love turns stale and atrophies into unhealthy obsession, misdirected anger, or just depression at the situation.
Nonetheless, we are creatures destined for companionship. The lesson from unrequited love is that it takes two people to cultivate a romance, and while we can make our own decision on the matter, we cannot force others to choose to love us back. Nor would we want to; for it is the decision to open one's heart to another, to make oneself completely vulnerable and at the mercy of the other party that is the intoxicating reality of love. The most we can do -- and should do -- is to simply move on and await the next inevitable romantic encounter.