We keep reading books and watching movies on how the Hero and sometimes the heroine react when the person they profess their undying affection to does not reciprocate it.
There is one thing I would like to make clear here- un-reciprocated affection is very painful. We have all felt the pain of it at some point in our lives. It is indeed wonderful if someone we love reciprocates it.
However, life teaches us that this is not always the case. How we deal with this, is in my opinion one of the truest tests of character and maturity that we possess.
Men in our societies are many a time brought up to believe that they hold all the key cards in a relationship and are often made to link that to their own self- worth and value as individuals. Sometimes these cards even include the right to not accept a non-reciprocation as it is viewed as a ‘rejection’. For women, this is somehow viewed as linked directly to her character and she is told that she must ‘change’ or become more ‘suitable’.
For both men and women this is a hard pill to swallow, but perhaps in different ways. Men end up questioning everything from their education to their looks, all aspects of their ‘machismo’. Women are dissected differently. Their looks, their character (too arrogant, domineering, too career oriented) etc. are cited.
It is very important for both men and women to not link this sort of refusal to a refusal of themselves or who they are.
Here are a few pointers that according to me might help men and women dealing with non- reciprocation by a romantic interest:
1. Non reciprocation is by no means an invalidation of their character: More often than not we are all used to complete acceptance within our immediate familial and friends circles. Therefore, non-reciprocation from a romantic interest, causes deep pain. What is important to understand is that these situations do not validate our character.
2. Every individual has a right to come to certain conclusions out of their own free will: In this whole process, we tend to forget that the other person is indeed an individual in their own right. Just like we have formed certain impressions about them, they would have too and they have every right to exercise their free will and judgment.
3. This is not an invitation to harass and stalk a person: Popular culture reinforces disturbing imagery on how it is ok to harass another person, chase, stalk and emotionally blackmail them until they comply. More often than not, it is the women who is chased and ultimately she ‘falls’ for the hero. Real life, however is very different. Such behavior is not to be made an example for model behavior. Relationships that succeed are between two mature individuals who have chosen to be together, not individuals who have been forced to be together. It is important to remember, that romantic relationships occur outside the bounds of logic. Would one rather be with someone who accepts them as a special person in their life for who they are or would one rather be with someone who has passed a report card for good conduct and character based on image selling?
4. It is an inevitable part of maturing: We are living in a world where boundaries are being broken and stereotypical views on gender and ego are changing. Letting go opens up other realms of possibilities in our own personal journeys. The end is often also the beginning. We grow as individuals and learn to respect others as human beings first and foremost. Think about say 20 years down the line, when ones children are faced with such scenarios. Our own experiences make us better parents and even counselors to our children.
5. Respecting and understanding the word ‘NO’: When a person says NO, learn to respect it. We understand that it is not an invitation to ‘procure’ a YES.