Advice: Unrequited LovePosted: August 1, 2013
Dear Love Inshallah,
At 20 years old, I have decided that I am ready to get engaged. I’ve been putting a lot of thought into the matter and since I do not want to pursue a pre-marital relationship, I thought I would open myself up to the possibility of getting engaged soon, since I have been getting suitors in the last few years.
I do have a bit of a problem though. Over the last four years, I have fallen in love with an amazing man, who was the definition of “ideal” for me. We became really good friends and would spend a lot of time talking to each other, often, staying up all night in order to finish off our conversation. We talked on a daily basis and met quite often too. About a year ago, I confessed to him that I had feelings for him, and since then he’s been acting very strange, avoiding me, etc. Upon confrontation, he told me that he had no feelings for me.
I can understand that he has his own preferences and I obviously cannot force him to love me so I dropped the matter. However, I have had a really hard time moving on, so much that it has been getting in the way of my studies and work. It’s been a year and I still think of him all the time. I look for him in every other guy I meet. I feel like my heart is stuck on him and even though I want to move on, I cannot.
At the same time, I do not want to have a relationship with another man while my heart is still set on someone else. I think it would be unfair.
I got to know him inside out, his personality was amazing. His mind was intriguing. Nobody else seems to compare. The love I felt for him wasn’t superficial in the least bit. Once I started to get to know him, I started developing feelings for him because I was attracted to his character and personality. I enjoyed our deep conversations on everything and anything. Other guys just don’t seem to match up to that standard. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to move on.
Last of all, I do not know how to talk to my parents about wanting to get engaged. I have never been close to them and we never talk about anything, much less marriage. They do not know about my feelings for that guy either. I’m sure they would like me to get engaged but how do I do that when I’m so hung up on another man? Help. Please.
Shy Desi Boy replies:
I was about your age when the same thing happened to me. I know how much it hurts, how it feels like a jumbo size plane has just flown through your fist size heart.
It made so little sense: why doesn’t the person love me? Nearly decades later, it still makes little sense, actually. But that experience made me realize that this experience, and every painful experience since, is a blessing from Allah. Yes I know that sounds like a Ramadan cop out—isn’t everything a blessing from Allah?
Yes, but we learn so much when we love and more importantly, when we lose. Love, and especially heartbreak, teaches us more about who we really are than happiness. Think about it—when something breaks, it leaves pieces on the ground for you to pick up and as you reassemble it, you learn how something comes together again.
I know that right now all you can think about is this person. Each person you meet probably fails to match the person you love. But eventually you will meet someone else and while he may not make you forget your first love, he will fill you with a new happiness that makes you content with your past experiences/heartbreaks. I am a big advocate in the belief that our hearts are big enough to love many people, including past partners, but that our hearts should also steer us to focus (and be faithful) to just one partner.
Until then my advice is this: take time. Give your heart the time it requires and it deserves to heal and to rest. Your heart is a muscle too and like all muscles in its body, it too needs down time. Spend this time writing down all the things you learned from this and how you want to be a better partner with the next person we love.
There may be uncles or aunties in your life who will say that it is time for you to settle down. Don’t listen to them. You are 20. You will love and lose and love and lose so many more times in life. You will land your dream job. And then lose it. You will be given an incredible opportunity you never dreamed of. And then it will fade away. As I get older, I realize when I am happy in life, I am most likely to be asleep to life’s lessons but when I am down—lately I have been down as you are now—I learn so much about my shortcomings as well as what I can offer those I love.
Because you will climb out. I did. So many others after us will climb out. I know right now it feels like you are dragging this 20 ton rock of hurt but it will soon feel lighter and eventually, you will be thankful for this hardship because it will lead you to the person you will find next and more importantly, to the person you will become.
Sending you my best, and my duas, during this blessed month of Ramadan.
Miss Sunshine replies:
I remember what it was like to be 20-years-old and madly in love. It ended in heartbreak for me too, but I hold fond memories of that bright, burning intensity. It sounds like you had a lovely friendship, and you’ve shown maturity and wisdom in accepting his feelings and trying to move forward.
It makes sense that you haven’t found someone to live up to him. It took time and trust to build the intimacy you had. It will take time and trust to build it with someone else. The blessing is that this time you will be clear that you are looking to for marriage, and you know more about what you really want.
I don’t think it’s inappropriate for you to look for someone else while you still have feelings for your friend. If you are looking for someone else in hopes of getting over him, then I’d advise you against it. Marriage is too great a commitment for it to be only a salve for old heartbreaks. It doesn’t seem that’s what you want, though, so take your time and look for the man you want to commit to. You will not be able to find someone just like him, and if you keep looking for that, you probably won’t be happy. You can find someone who fulfills the same needs, and maybe even others you didn’t know you had. When you find him, give it time. Interest can become affection, and affection can be transformed into love with time, attention, and trust.