In fact, any shred of uncertainty only fuels the fire. As a 2011 study showed, we feel most attracted to someone when we’re not sure if they like us or not. We wind up thinking about that person more often, wondering how they feel or how to attract them, and the authors believe that may lead us to think we’re in love.
On top of that, the myth that there is only one person out there for you—a single, magical soul mate—raises the stakes on unrequited love. “People often think they’ve found their soul mate,” says Rachel Sussman, a Manhattan-based relationship therapist and author of The Breakup Bible. “If they’re sold on the idea that there’s only one person for each of us, they really tend to feel that they’ve lost that one opportunity.”
Of course, the fallacy of that is obvious, unless you’re too blinded by what feels like love to see it. “If they really were your soul mate, they would be with you,” Sussman adds. But if believing that was so easy, we would all move on a lot faster.
Letting go is tough. It’s a prolonged battle between your logical brain and your instinctive one. Since love mirrors all of the patterns of addiction—obsessive thinking, cravings, distorted reality, withdrawals, relapse—you literally need to wean yourself. “Create as much distance as you possibly can,” Sussman says. “Discontinue contact, stop talking about [the person] and don’t go on their Facebook page.” Those little check-ins only make it worse and harder to let go.
Most of all, stop indulging any stories about the person or what your relationship would be like if you were together. “You’ve got to poke holes in the fantasy,” Sussman says.
To do that, list the person’s negative qualities or catalogue everything you don’t know about them. Imagine bickering over your finances or childcare, and remember that this person would have flaws just like any other person.
Once you convince yourself that the fantasy isn’t real, moving on will take an ego boost. “Constant rejection chips away at self-esteem,” Sussman says. “Especially if it’s already underdeveloped.” Build self-confidence by taking interesting classes such as yoga, cooking or language lessons, traveling, volunteering or focusing more on excelling at your career. Not only will those distractions help you forget the person and feel better about yourself, they’ll also give you opportunities to meet new people.
If you want to find love, you need to let go of a fantasy that is holding you back, and know this truth: There are other people out there, ready to love you back.
This post originally appeared on YouBeauty.com.
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