What is Unrequited Love?
Unrequited love is also known as un-reciprocated or one-sided love. It can be defined as a situation where one’s feelings of love are not understood or returned by the beloved. The beloved might not even know of the admirer’s deep and strong romantic affection or just simply rejects it.
Dr. Roy Baumeister explains that what makes a man or woman appealing is a complex mix of many highly personal qualities and traits. However falling in love with someone who is out of one’s league in terms of physical beauty or attributes like charm, intelligence or status, pits one at risk of unrequited love, Baumeister added. Furthermore more, other psychologists have added that opposites do attract, but it is not possible to attract those whose moral values are in contrast with ours.
The inability of the unrequited lover to express and fulfill emotional needs might result to such feelings as anxiety, rapid mood swings, depression and low self-esteem.
Research has shown that the object of unrequited affection experiences a mixture of negative emotions that are completely different from those of the suitor, including anxiety, guilt and frustration. Freud once said that ‘when a woman sues for love, to reject and refuse is a distressing part for a man to play’.
Unrequited love has been a much talked about issue in popular culture. Movies, books and songs often show the would-be lover’s tenacity as rewarding when the reject er finally comes to his or her senses. Such propaganda is usually to blame for most situations where unrequited lovers refuse to simply give up.
Platonic friendships are usually a fertile ground for unreciprocated love. Therefore, statistically, the object of unrequited love is often a friend or acquaintance, someone regularly encountered in school, work or other social gatherings. This is why most admirers have difficulty expressing their true feelings for fear of inviting rejection and profound embarrassment to themselves and most times, this leads to a breakdown of whatever relationship existed in the first place when such feelings go unrequited.
This brings us to the concept of “friend-zoning”. The friend zone, as widely known, refers to a platonic relationship in which one person, often times a man, wishes to start a romantic or sexual relationship, while the other does not. If a desired party does not return such affection or advances to the desiring party, but continues a platonic friendship with them then such situation is referred to as “friend-zoning”. Taking it a notch higher, friend zone can be used to describe a situation where two people are sexually involved but be party wants commitment and the other is not interested in such. Psychologists are of the opinion that the man in a cross-gender friendship is more likely to be drawn to his woman friend than she is to him, and he is therefore more likely to overrate her interest in a sexual or romantic relationship.
The concept has been shunned by feminists who think it is unfair and misogynistic in insisting that women have to offer sex in return for kind actions by men. Ally Fogg is of the opinion that “there is a danger in labeling men like this as misogynists or creeps, and it is not just the emotional harm to the men themselves. As feminists will be the first to explain, our culture polices masculinity. Those who deviate from an assertive, even aggressive masculinity are shamed as wimps or with homophobic slurs. The shaming of the sexually reserved man is the converse of the shaming of the sexually assertive woman, both are defying the same norm.”
There are different reasons why someone might be “friend-zoned”. One, it may stem from misinterpreted signals. Two, it might be from a fear that a deeper relationship might destroy the friendship, three, insufficient feelings of affection for the other party.
Jeremy Nicholson, wrote in Psychology Today that another problem with the friend zone, especially for the romantic pursuer, instead of being rejected up front, decides to use the tactics of friendly services as a “back door” means into a romantic relationship.
There is general consensus that once someone is in the friend zone, it is quite difficult to get out. Some unrequited lovers become obsessed to the point of being harmful to themselves and the objects of their affection.