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Developing feelings for someone who’s already taken happens quite often.
And when it does, you can bet that at least one person in the situation is going to end up getting hurt.
Usually it’s the one who is (or thinks they are) in love, but the object of their affection is in love with someone else.
And since you are reading this article, that’s probably you.
The person you may be in love with might not even know you have feelings for them because you’ve never told them (because they’re with someone else).
On the other hand, they could be aware, but don’t reciprocate any of those feelings. Their heart already belongs to someone else, and there’s just no room for you in that picture.
There are also situations in which a person will end up smitten with someone who prefers partners of a different gender than theirs.
Whatever the cause, it’s a difficult situation to negotiate, but one that should be nipped in the bud as soon as possible.
First, ask yourself…
Are you actually in love? Or just infatuated?
Infatuations and obsessions have happened to pretty much all of us. We meet someone who absolutely blows us away, and we can’t get them out of our heads.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re in love with the person. In fact, it usually means that we’re smitten with our idea of who that person might be, rather than who they really are.
We tend to put people on pedestals – this is just human nature. You might meet someone at a festival and think they’re the coolest creature you’ve ever met. They’re smart, good looking, have a great body, are super talented…the positive attributes just keep flowing in all directions, don’t they?
But you don’t truly know this person. All you have to go on may be a few details they’ve shared, and your own vivid imagination.
And when you find out that they’re with someone else, your emotions might go into overdrive.
All of a sudden, they go from a pleasant thought to an all-out obsession. And you start spiraling down into the idea that they might be your soulmate, and how can you be happy in life without them?
Granted, sometimes this love is sincere. You might be close friends with someone who’s already in a relationship or married, and discover that you’ve developed strong feelings for them.
Or, you might fall head over heels in love with your colleague or boss. After all, many people spend more time at work than they do at home, and all kinds of friendships and relationships evolve in these circumstances.
However, most of the time it’s an infatuation based on your own perceptions and imaginings. Not reality.
If you were to magically change their mind and have them as a partner, do you really think they’d live up to your dreamy expectations of them? Or would they fall short of what you expected, crushing your heart completely?
Take a moment and reflect upon an older flame – someone from your past who you had deep feelings for at the time.
How often do you think of that person now? Chances are they rarely even come to mind, but at the time, they were probably all encompassing and consuming in your mind.
Compare that to what you’re experiencing now, and ask yourself if what you’re feeling is true. And more importantly, if it serves you well, and is helping in your own personal growth and development.
Do you want this person because they’re unavailable?
This happens more often than you might believe. Many people develop feelings for those who are already spoken for because they’re “safe.”
Basically, they pine over those who are in committed relationships or marriages because they want the giddy thrill of infatuation without the risk of actually having to become involved with them.
The romance can unfold in their minds and hearts without all the messiness of interpersonal issues getting in the way. In fact, this happens often with online, long distance relationships.
People can cultivate their own ideas about what someone else is like in their minds. They can have full-on romantic feelings about them, envision the magic of their lives together, and experience all the addictive “feel-good” dopamine bursts at a comfortable distance.
There’s little chance of them getting seriously hurt because they’re not actually seriously involved. It’s a make-believe romance with little to no chance of evolving into anything tangible.
In fact, if anything unfolds that might make you feel like it would become a real thing, you may lose interest or find an excuse to stop talking to that person.
The realness might make the experience unpalatable. Instead of your imagined ideal, you’re faced with your dream partner’s foibles, flaws, and everything else that makes them human, rather than your ultimate dream bae.
Additionally, there are situations where people will be into others for the very reason that they’re already taken. Like it’s some kind of achievement to “take” someone else’s partner away.
This often happens if a person has deep-seated insecurities – they pursue people who are already in relationships or married because they see them as prizes to win.
If they manage to seduce or take someone else’s spouse/partner, then they get a massive ego boost. They feel that they’re hotter, smarter, more successful, and generally “better” than the one their new partner left for them.
Only, at that point, the new partner isn’t attractive anymore.
In fact, they’ll likely lose trust in their new conquest specifically because they chose them instead of staying with the one they claimed to love.
It’s really unhealthy and kind of ridiculous, but many people seem to be wired to want to take another’s partner away.
What should you do if you’re experiencing these feelings?
For one thing, be honest with yourself about how this individual treats you and deals with you. Are you infatuated with them because they’re kind to you while others treat you like crap?
If so, do you really love this person? Or are you in love with how this person makes you feel?
Those are two very different experiences, and are often mistaken for one another.
We can develop addictions to certain types of emotional responses. Kind of like thinking that we’re in love with ice cream because of the giddy thrill we feel when we eat it.
Take a good look at your past behaviors with different people and try to determine whether this is a pattern you’ve followed. If it is, you might want to do some intense soul-searching to figure out why you keep doing this. It’s not the type of behavior that will lead to any kind of solid, healthy relationship.
Think about all the time you’re spending daydreaming about how things could be with this unavailable person. What if you put that time into things like self-improvement, or cultivating a real partnership with someone who’s actually available.
What NOT to do.
You might think that it’s a terribly romantic idea to try to “win” this person away from their current partner, but that’s a really bad idea.
For one thing, they’re likely in love with their significant other for a reason. If you truly cared about them, then you’ll want their happiness above all else.
Otherwise it’s “fish love.” If we desire a fish, we hunt for it and pull it out of the water, killing it. In contrast, if we truly love a fish, we provide it with the best possible environment for it to thrive and be happy; with or without us.
Don’t write them long letters telling them all about how much you adore them. Similarly, don’t buy them outlandish presents, send them flowers, or stand outside their house, pining.
Those movies about unrequited love may seem terribly romantic and powerful, but reality is much different, and you’ll probably just end up getting arrested. Or slapped with a restraining order.
It’s also just unkind to push yourself into a situation where you don’t belong. If this person wanted to be with you, then they’d be with you and not their partner, you know?
Take a step back and try to really pay attention to how this person behaves with you. For instance, you might feel like you’re being really charming and sweet if you pay them compliments or give them random gifts. But do they appreciate your efforts? Look at their body language and see whether they’re accepting these things sincerely, or just being polite about it.
Your perception of the situation might be very different from theirs. You might be making them feel uncomfortable with overenthusiastic attention.
Another thing you definitely should not do is compare yourself to this person’s partner. It’s easy to sit there wondering what they have that you don’t, but there’s no great benefit to it.
In fact, all it’s likely to do is harm your self-esteem. You may see this other person as “more” than you – more attractive, more popular, more romantic, smarter, funnier… just overall a better person than you are.
Now they definitely aren’t “better” than you, but if you let your mind go down this road, it’s easier to convince yourself that they are.
And if you don’t recognize your own worth, you won’t believe that you could ever find someone like the person you are in love with.
This makes it harder to move on from them and seek love and affection elsewhere because if you don’t feel worthy of someone so great, you won’t go looking for them.
All you’ll do is wallow in the misery of unrequited love.
Redirect your attention.
Instead of wallowing and wailing about a person you can never have, put that energy into something more productive.
Think about why you were drawn to this person to begin with. What do they symbolize to you? What is it you love and admire about them?
Once you’ve determined that, try turning your own energy toward that which you admire. Become what you love.
If the one you’re smitten with is altruistic, get involved with charity work. Are they well-educated? Pick up some books and get reading. Is this person really physically fit? Put your phone down, get off the couch, and take up some form of body work.
Focus on things you can change for long-term personal benefit. This could be making significant life changes, or just picking up a hobby you’ve always wanted to do to distract yourself.
You never know, this unrequited love experience might transform your life by opening you up to a new career path or similar.
Most importantly, turn a whole lot of that love toward yourself. Yes, there are plenty of other fish in the sea, and you’ll undoubtedly meet someone else to fall for in the near future. But no one deserves your love, compassion, and devotion more than yourself.
Light your own candle first, and it will draw those who want to bask in your light.
Still not sure what to do about your feelings for this person? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.
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