Your heart aches. You’re overwhelmed by desire. All you can think about is that person, but that person isn’t thinking about you. Feelings of inadequacy, confusion, helplessness, frustration, and anger swirl through you.
You’re not alone. The absence of reciprocity shows up in all kinds of relationships, including romantic involvements, friendships, and family connections. And it hurts like hell.
While you can’t change how anyone else feels or behaves, you can help yourself through the experience.
Allow your feelings. Being vulnerable is hard and it can be difficult to admit how you feel. You’re expected to be strong and independent so you’re ashamed when you feel weak or needy. But you’re human. We all crave connection and validation. We all want to feel special and loved for who we are. Which means it’s natural to feel hurt when someone else seems to disregard you or fails to recognize your value. The first step to moving past the hurt is to have compassion for yourself and your experience. Allow yourself to feel your feelings without judgment.
Sort through your feelings. Rejection is a difficult experience and tugs at deeper patterns of attachment. What you’re going through isn’t just about this one person or this one relationship. It’s about how you’ve been treated in relationships throughout your life. Anxiety and insecurity flow out of neglect, abandonment, abuse, and trauma. The sting of this current event is intensified by previous negative experiences. Take a moment to examine your relationship history, beginning with your earliest attachments. Notice the thread of pain that runs throughout. Acknowledging and honoring your story increases self awareness and helps you heal. Once you identify your patterns, you can shift them and move towards a healthier dynamic.
Heal the root. So what do you do when you reflect on your story and notice that your anxiety and insecurity is rooted in poorly formed early life attachments? Have compassion for yourself. Understand that those damaged attachments make it harder for you to trust or feel confident. Know that all is not lost. You can heal the pain from your past and build your capacity to trust and feel loved. Read up on attachment styles, healing from trauma, or developing self compassion. Find a qualified therapist to help you. There’s no shame in accessing support so you can thrive.
Don’t take it personally. While it’s helpful to self reflect to build self awareness and heal old pain, it’s also important to remain objective and avoid absorbing blame. There are many reasons why a person may not be able to connect with you. Maybe it has to do with their early attachments, prior relationships, or trauma. Maybe it’s about their current life circumstances. Maybe you’re just different kinds of people. In any case, beating yourself up or ruminating on what you could have done differently is unhelpful. You shouldn’t have to convince anyone to value you. If you do, then they’re not your people. Your people naturally recognize and understand what you’re worth without any convincing.
Focus on positive connection. It’s easy to slip into a self-pitying mindset while failing to acknowledge the appreciation and validation that is available to you. Spend time with people who make you feel good. Pay attention and mindfully receive love and acknowledgment when it’s offered to you. If you’re craving compassion and connection, offer it out to others. Direct your energy toward what you want rather than what you don’t want.
Engage in confidence building activities. Do things that help you feel valuable. You don’t have to have a high paying job or huge social media following to matter. You don’t have to be a master artist, a star athlete, or a brilliant mind to be productive. We’re all good at something, we all have things we love doing. Spend time engaged in activities that connect with your strengths and bring you a sense of accomplishment.
Trust. Life hands you what you need, even if it isn’t what you want. Though it may feel unpleasant, this experience is teaching you and helping you grow. You’re shedding a layer so that you may move closer to the authentic connection you crave. Be patient and trust that good things are coming.
Adina Arden Cooper
I'm a healer, a guide, a supportive companion. A storyteller, an artist, an ally and an advocate. I help individuals thrive and communities come together through counseling, coaching, and community building. I believe that shared humanity is a powerful strength and that our stories connect us in beautiful and sacred ways. As I stumble, skip, or soar my way through this life, I invite you to join me on the journey. Likewise, I'm honored to travel with you. In witnessing one another, we find meaning.