If you’re here because you love someone who doesn’t love you back, I feel your pain.
As someone who has been there, I know how much it sucks and how it can feel like the wind has been sucked right out of you. Loving someone who doesn’t love you back is downright awful.
And pretty much all of us have been there at one time or another — research shows that 98% of people have experienced unrequited love in their lives.
But here is the good news – you can absolutely bounce back when someone doesn’t love you anymore. In fact, a study published about heartbreak in The Journal of Positive Psychology in 2007 found that most people get over a breakup in about three months.
So how do you move forward from being broken down by unrequited love to getting over it? That’s exactly what I’m going to show you in this article.
But first, let’s talk about the reason he may not love you in case you’re still trying to figure that piece out.
The truth behind “It’s not you… it’s me”
Though no one wants to hear the line “It’s not you, it’s me” (let’s be honest – this might be the most cliched phrase of all time), there’s a lot of truth behind it.
A 2007 study showed that past relationships have a significant effect on our next relationship.
Why? Because our past relationships become part of who we are as people. So while the break-up may feel very personal and you’re are not entirely lovable, keep in mind that love is much more complex than that.
You are both bringing past experiences, past heartbreaks, past rejections from childhood, and a whole host of expectations about love into your relationship. So while it may feel incredibly personal and like you specifically are being rejected, it likely has a lot less to do with you personally than you think.
If the person you love has formed ideas about love from past experiences and relationships that aren’t positively contributing to your relationship, it’s much better to know now. You can start to heal, move on, and find your way to the next person with who everything does line up with.
Part of falling in love is taking the risk that it may not work out before we find that relationship where everything, in fact, does work out.
So how do you move on in a way that sets you up for finding a healthy and deeply fulfilling love in the future?
Here are 20 powerful tips that will help.
1. Trigger his hero instinct
If the guy you love doesn’t love you back, then you need to do something about it.
Yes, maybe ‘happy ever after’ simply won’t happen and you need to move on and find a guy who does.
But before you do that, consider this. There’s always a reason why a guy doesn’t love you back. And if you figure this reason out, you can flip the script and make him fall in love with you.
In my experience, the biggest reason why a guy doesn’t reciprocate your love is that you’re not giving him something he craves from a relationship. Something he needs to experience deep and passionate love.
What is it?
Above all else, men need to feel wanted, needed and essential by the woman in his life. In other words, he needs to feel like your hero.
Not an action hero like Thor, but an everyday hero that provides you something no other man can.
There’s a new concept in relationship psychology that’s generating a lot of buzz at the moment that goes to the heart of why men fall in love with some women and not others.
It’s called the hero instinct.
According to the hero instinct, men have a biological drive to live a life full of meaning and to provide for those he cares about.
And this drive is amplified in their romantic relationships.
The interesting thing is that you can actually trigger the hero instinct in your guy.
There are words you can say, phrases you can use, and little requests you can make to trigger this very natural instinct in him.
I don’t often buy into popular new concepts in psychology or recommend videos. But if you want your guy to throw himself into your relationship, I think learning about the hero instinct can make all the difference.
2. Turn your love on yourself
I’m going to be brutally honest here – when you are wondering “Why doesn’t he love me?”, you’re looking for someone else to make you feel loved.
I know, this is harsh to say, but I’m going to be real with you in this article because I want to see you on the other side of this break up living your best life.
Instead of focusing on the one person who you think will make you feel loved, there’s someone who can do a much better job of making you feel better — and that’s yourself.
We’ve all spent time scheming how to win an ex back or convince someone to love us, but imagine if you skipped over all that and just focused on giving yourself exactly what you need.
Taking responsibility for feeling loved from the inside out (and not depending on someone else to make you feel loved) is the first step to healing and bouncing back.
And if you’re having trouble loving yourself, don’t worry. I’m going to show you how to do.
3. Accept the reality of the situation
This goes hand-in-hand with the point above. If you keep spinning your wheels about how to win an ex or the object of your affection, it’s basically a strategy for avoiding reality.
When you’re pining after a guy and scheming how to win him over, then you’re missing what’s happening directly in front of you. Your soulmate could be passing you in the street trying to make eye contact with you, but you completely miss him because you’re in your head.
There are 7 billion people on the face of the Earth. The sooner you can accept the reality of this situation, the sooner you will be on your way to finding a lasting and more fulfilling relationship.
4. Let go of the fantasy
To accept the reality of the situation, you do have to let go of the fantasy you have with the person you’re pining after. Are you thinking things like:
- “But he was the one.”
- “We’re absolutely perfect for each other.”
- “I’ll never meet anyone like him again.”
If so, these are all projections and symptoms of living in a culture where love is portrayed as a fairy tale.
Turning black-and-white thought patterns like these into more constructive thoughts will help you let go of the fantasy and start to move forward. Here’s how you can start reframing them:
- “The relationship was great for that part of my life, and I’m ready for my next chapter.”
- ”He is a great person, and our relationship wasn’t sustainable long-term.”
- “There are so many more people out there for me to meet.”
Any time you find yourself thinking in all-or-nothing terms, consider it a signal to yourself that it’s time to do some reframing of the situation.
5. Create mental and physical space
Another important step in healing and bouncing back is creating some space between you and the person.
There’s a phenomenon that anthropologist Helen Fisher has described called “frustration attraction.” She determined that being in love with someone triggers the release of neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, and simply looking at a picture of someone we love releases dopamine into our brain.
Dopamine helps us feel pleasure.
So think about it — if you’re constantly being reminded of the person you are trying to get over, the biochemical makeup of your brain may be making it harder to move on.
To get around this, make sure you’re not communicating with the person on a regular basis. Hide his posts on social media. If you have any other reminders like photographs, mementos from dates, etc., either toss them or box them up.
It may seem extreme, but the most important thing is that you take back control over your headspace.
“Out of sight, out of mind” is a real thing, so make sure you’re setting your life and physical environment up to reflect that.
6. Remind yourself that there’s nothing wrong with you
When someone doesn’t return our love, our first thought is often “What’s wrong with me?”
But I am here to tell you that absolutely nothing is wrong with you. Remember that statistic that 98% of people have experienced unrequited love? Yep, you’re totally normal.
There are a million different reasons that this person may not be feeling you which have absolutely nothing to do with you.
So you can rest assured that you are 100% normal and there is absolutely nothing wrong with you.
7. What does he actually want from you?
Men and women are different and we want different things from a relationship.
If you’re wondering “why doesn’t he love me”, then you need to think about what drives him as a man? What does he want from a relationship with you?
You may think that men are all about money, sex, food, sports, and power.
Sure, those things all come into play at times. But I think there is a deeper truth that few women are aware of.
Men are actually driven less by those external things above and more by how you make them feel about themselves.
Above all else men want to feel essential to the woman in his life.
This doesn’t mean you have to act clingy and overload him with attention. What it does mean is that you need to make him feel that he is providing you something that no other man can.
In other words, he needs to feel like your hero.
I mentioned the hero instinct above. It’s a fascinating new concept in relationship psychology that’s generating a lot of buzz at the moment.
The simple truth is men want to be your hero. And if you want your relationship to succeed, you need to let him be one.
How do you trigger the hero instinct in your guy?
The best thing you can do is watch this excellent free video by relationship psychologist James Bauer.
He outlines the things you can say or do to make him feel like he’s your hero.
Some ideas are game changes. When it comes to relationships, I think this is one of them.
8. Journal about the gift of the experience
It’s easy to focus on all the negative things when someone doesn’t love us back, but if you look hard enough, there are always silver linings.
- What did this person teach you to appreciate about yourself?
- What relationship patterns about yourself did you discover?
- What do you need more of in your life?
- What do you need less of in your life?
- What lessons are your learning about love and life from this experience?
Make a list of all the positive things that have come from this experience exactly as it has happened.
9. Feel all the feels
One of the things that humans often do to protect ourselves is to talk ourselves out of our feelings and emotions.
We try to think through all of our painful emotions and figure out solutions so we can stop feeling them.
Our mind is a wonderful tool, but when it comes to heartbreak, it can just lead us on a wild goose chase where we never actually solve anything. The goose chase simply prolongs our heartbreak and suffering.
The best way to heal a broken heart is to actually feel it without letting your mind race.
Sit in a quiet space, close your eyes, and feel what it feels like to be heartbroken.
At first, you may be tempted to distract yourself by texting a friend, watching a YouTube video, making a cup of coffee, or strategizing how to win the guy back.
But set a timer and just tell yourself you are going to stay seated until the timer goes off. Start small with just a few minutes and commit to feeling it all.
Cry. Get angry. Feel confused. Feel all the feels.
When you commit to feeling those emotions instead of running away from them, they will pass through you rather than perpetually boiling below the surface.
10. Let yourself rest
Going through a breakup and feeling all the emotions of it is hard work.
It’s exhausting if you’re truly doing the inner work required to move through it.
So while you don’t want to distract yourself from your pain with a Netflix binge for weeks straight, it’s absolutely okay to let yourself take it slow, veg out occasionally, and let yourself recuperate.
Make sure to balance feeling all the feelings by giving yourself time to rest, too.
And then, of course, you’ll also want to make sure you’re getting out and seeing people as there’s a time and place for that, too, but more on that to come below.
11. Eat healthy food
They don’t call it “heartsick” for nothing. Research actually shows that heartbreak can have physical effects on your body.
Courtney Nesbitt, L.C.S.W., who practices individual and couples therapy, says:
“I believe 100 percent that a broken heart and emotional pain can negatively affect physical health. The mind is a very powerful organ and heartbreak is a very powerful emotion. When the two combine, it can certainly produce a physical reaction.”
So do what you would do for yourself if you caught a cold or stomach bug.
Eat healthy food, drink lots of fluids, and give your body some TLC.
The goal is to take care of yourself so that you can get your energy up again and back to feeling like yourself physically as well.
12. Stretch, do yoga and deep breathing
As we’ve discussed, it’s easy to get lost in your mind when you’re wondering “Why doesn’t he love me?” and similar thoughts.
That’s a hamster wheel that you can go round and round on until you’re blue in the face. To help get out of your head, another thing you can do in addition to feeling your feelings is actively focusing on connecting with your body.
Stretch, sign up for yoga, take a somatic movement class, try meditating, or practice deep breathing.
Even if you’ve never meditated or think it’s too “woo woo,” you’re bound to find one that you like.
Again, tune into your body so you can tune out of your thoughts.
13. Work up a sweat
This tip is similar to the one above about getting into your body, but you’re just ramping it up.
Get out and move your body in a way that’s going to cause you to experience some full-on, sweat-dripping exercise.
This will help you get your heart pumping, and quite literally, feeling alive and full of life again.
And because there is such a strong link between exercise and relieving stress (we’ve all heard of the hundreds of studies that prove this!), you can even find exercises specifically tailored to heartbreak.
14. Get your creative juices flowing
When you are going through a painful experience like rejection, one of the healthiest things you can do is channel your pain and energy into something creative.
Use a coloring book for adults, write a song, take a pottery class, redecorate your room, or even just arrange some fresh flowers in a vase.
You don’t have to paint the Mona Lisa here. Just use this time to indulge in your creativity even if it’s something very small.
15. Spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself
There is no doubt that you want to be getting out, socializing, and even meeting new people right now. I’m sure you’re hearing the advice “stay busy” a lot these days.
While I get it and understand people are trying to keep you from melting into a pool of your own tears, it’s really important to be picky about who you spend time with right now.
Do you have an insensitive friend? A parent who always criticizes you? A coworker who seems to relish a bit too much in your suffering?
If so, now is not the time to be spending time with these people.
You are in a fragile place, so make sure to surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you up and see what makes you such an amazing person.
This is one of the ways you make sure you’re loving yourself. Only let positivity into your life right now and kick the rest out for the time being – or forever.
16. Ask yourself the tough questions
When you’re experiencing unrequited love, it’s a great time to reflect on the patterns in your love life to see if any adjustments need to be as you get back into the dating world.
Ask yourself things like:
- Do I have a habit of picking the wrong kind of partners?
- Do I have trouble when relationships progress?
- Am I always authentic at the start of a relationship and throughout it?
- What are my expectations about my partners and are they lining up with reality?
- Are there red flags that I’m avoiding?
- Am I picking partners who fill me up with joy or who leave me feeling empty?
- What do my choices in partners say about how I feel about myself?
Though these aren’t easy questions, if you’re willing to be honest with yourself you may just find some hidden gold that will help you make sense of your current experience and move into the next.
17. Seek out a therapist or life coach
If you’re finding that the tough questions are too much to tackle on your own or you are actually melting into a pool of tears frequently, therapists can be amazing for helping you make sense of deeply painful experiences.
Or, you feel like you could use some guidance but don’t quite need a therapist, you may want to consider working with a life or dating coach who can help you make sense of your patterns in relationships so that you can learn from them and grow.
Either way, remember that some of the biggest breakthroughs in life often come from painful experiences – that’s when growth and maturity happens.
18. Visualize your future
I’m sure you’ve heard of vision boards, but you don’t need to break out the magazines and scissors to think about what you want in life.
Simply close your eyes and think about what you want your future to look like three months from now, six months from now, one year from now, and three years from now.
Picture it in as much detail as possible as you can. But here’s the key – also picture what you must do and what actions you must take to accomplish that vision.
Want to move on and find your soulmate? Don’t just picture the soulmate; also picture all the things that must happen for you to meet that person, like getting out more, working on yourself, and loving yourself deeply.
Research shows that having a vision helps but it’s much more helpful if you also visualize the actions you need to take to reach that vision.
19. Write down your goals and action plan and read them every day
After you’ve visualized what you want from your life and what you’re going to do to get there over the next months, write it down.
This doesn’t have to be long – it could even just be a few bullet points.
Then read it every day. The more you hold the vision for your future in the forefront of your mind as well as the actions you are going to take to accomplish that vision, the more you will make decisions every day that will lead you toward that future vision of your life.
20. Do small things with love… for yourself
Part of loving yourself is prioritizing yourself.
Often when we want to be with someone, we are hyper-focused on what will make the other person happy.
Maybe I’ll drop them off a coffee? I’ll get their favorite treat too that I know they love!
Instead, focus on what will make you happy.
Is it spending time reading an amazing book, is it taking a long walk with your dog, or maybe it’s as simple as throwing on a favorite song and dancing around your living room? Maybe it’s getting yourself a large latte with your favorite baked treat.
Start actively choosing to show yourself how much you love you in all the small ways that you’d normally bestow on someone else.
The more you cultivate this inner love for yourself, the more likely you’ll be to attract someone who loves you exactly for who you are.
21. Celebrate yourself
Glennon Doyle writes in her best-seller Untamed, “You can do hard things,” and you may have seen this quote plastered all over the internet. Why? Because it’s the truth.
You are doing a really hard thing right now – experiencing rejection – and it’s not easy.
But you can handle it, and not only can you handle it, but you can also come out on the other side of it stronger, wiser, and more in tune with what makes you amazing as a person.
So celebrate you and all that you are learning from this painful experience.
22. Remember you deserve real love
It’s easy to think that we are unworthy of love when someone doesn’t return our affection.
But that’s not real love.
Real love is when you are both 100% committed to each other, growing together, and supporting each other.
That kind of love, which fundamentally changes you as a human being, is out there for you.
The truer you can be to yourself, the more likely it is that you will find someone who sees you and loves you for not only who you are right but also the person you’re going to be as you grow as a human being.
Finding someone who is as interested in who you are now as they are interested in who you are becoming is what lasting love is all about.
Why doesn’t he love me – what comes next?
So as we’ve chatted about…
Even though this rejection likely feels super personal, it’s humanly impossible for it to be all about you given how much of our past experiences influence our romantic choices.
And if you approach it with the right mindset, this experience of “rejection” can be a huge stepping stone to meeting the person with who you will share real, lasting love.
If there’s one thing for sure it’s this – true love always finds a way. So trust this experience is all part of love’s journey of finding its way to you.