It’s a situation that most of us fear as we focus our attention on finding love in this crazy, messy, confusing world – that moment when you realize that the person that has captured your heart doesn’t share the same feelings in return. Its heartbreaking and gut-wrenching, but the experience doesn’t have to be all bad… There are some important lessons that can come from this challenging time.

The world of love and dating can bring you the greatest joy in your life, or the lowest of lows. While we would all love to have the ability to identify at first glance whether the one you met is destined to be your soulmate, or whether they will break your heart leaving you to pick up the pieces, there is no secret to developing this skill. Instead, we are forced to either close ourselves off to the world, denying ourselves the opportunity to find true love, or do we open our hearts and risk being hurt?

If you ever truly loved someone only to find that they don’t feel the same in return, then you know the pain and upset that this can bring. You may find yourself feeling disappointed, questioning your judgment and wondering what it is that you lack. I know for me, it was a hit to my sense of self-confidence and self-worth that I wasn’t sure I could overcome. However, once the original pain passed I was able to take a step back and realize that there are some important lessons to take out of this difficult time.

The important lessons I learned from loving someone who didn’t love me back:

Always stay true to yourself.

You are an amazing, talented, unique and strong individual. Never forget this point! If you are in a relationship where your partner fails to see this, don’t stick around to be treated less than you deserve. If this relationship doesn’t work, know that you will be ok. It may hurt for awhile, but you will eventually pick yourself up, brush yourself off and get on with your life. Keep in mind that you aren’t looking for someone to complete you, you are complete on your own. You are searching for someone who will compliment your life, bring you joy and happiness, and bring out the best in you.

Know what you are looking for.

Before you set out to in the dating world, take some time to consider your ideal life. Are you someone who prefers to spend your time at home relaxing on the couch with your ideal partner, or are you an outgoing individual who requires regular activity, excitement and socialization to keep you happy? There is nothing wrong with knowing what you want and sticking to it. In fact, having a clear idea of your expectations for your relationship will help you to determine if someone is going to fit into your life or not.

Pay attention to the signs.

As much as we would all like to believe that we were completely blindsided when this happened when we look back the signs seem so obvious. Rather than relying on hindsight with a broken heart, keep your eyes open to what he may be telling you with his actions. If he’s avoiding opening up to you, keeping you secret from his friends and social media, or failing to make you a priority in his life then pay attention! These are red flags that the relationship isn’t going to last.

Don’t ignore friends and family.

While your friends and family are obviously not the make it or break it point in any relationship, this is your life, don’t dismiss what they say without taking a moment to seriously consider what they are telling you. These are the people that you trust most in your life, and they genuinely want what’s best for you. On top of this, they are also removed from the relationship allowing them to see things that you may be blind to. If you notice that everyone is warning you that it’s not going to work, take some time to reassess the relationship.

Pe prepared to roll with the punches.

Life is messy, confusing and unpredictable. While you may have a clear idea of how you think this relationship is going to play out, rarely do our plans work out without some sort of hiccup or unexpected change. There is only one thing that’s guaranteed in your life and that’s change! You may find yourself facing some significant changes in life that turn everything upside down. When it does, be prepared to change with it. This could strengthen your relationship, or this change could be the very catalyst for its end but fighting it won’t benefit you in any way.

Always be upfront about your feelings.

Sure, it’s not going to be easy. You may be dealing with shyness or questioning whether the time is right – Are you moving too quickly? Are they ready to hear this, or are you going to scare them away? The truth is that honesty is the best policy. This involves opening up and sharing your feelings, which is a frightening step in an early relationship, however, this is the only way that you’re going to know how he feels (without guessing). If he turns you down at this stage, consider yourself lucky – you found out early and you are now free to keep looking for that special someone.

Don’t waste your time trying to ‘make it work’.

So many of us have fallen into this trap at one point or another. You notice that something is off, or it isn’t ‘quite right’ and you convince yourself that you just need to work harder if you’re going to fix it. Here’s a hard truth for you: if he’s not the one, he’s not the one. Regardless of how hard you try, how much effort you put in, or how much time you invest, it’s going to eventually end. Don’t waste your time grasping at straws. When you recognize that this isn’t ‘the one,’ cut yourself free to keep searching for the one that is.

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