Unrequited Love

The concept of unrequited love has been with us for a long time and simply put, it is defined as a one sided, non reciprocated love by one person for another, who may or not even be aware of the other person’s true feelings at all…Some people may even derisively call it mental masturbation, for all the good it does them!…

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FILE – NOVEMBER 23, 2012:  The American romantic movie drama Casablanca celebrated its world premiere on November 26, 1942. Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman the film was a solid success in its initial run, winning three Academy Awards, and its characters, dialogue, and music have become iconic. It now consistently ranks near the top of lists of the greatest films of all time. Please refer to the following profile on Getty Images Archival for further imagery: http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/Search/Search.aspx?EventId=113854183&EditorialProduct=Archival&esource=maplinARC_uki_12nov Humphrey Bogart (1899 - 1957) and Ingrid Bergman (1915 - 1982) star in the Warner Brothers film 'Casablanca', 1942. (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

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Merriam’s dictionary more strictly defines unrequited love as: “not reciprocated or returned in kind.” So what’s the deal, why would anybody want to be in such a situation, why would they willingly put themselves into a situation that by definition can never be reciprocated or resolved, where the object of their love was nearly always unavailable, and usually in most cases even unaware of their true feelings for him or her? Well it’s usually not by choice…

Its first known historical depiction was in the “courtly love” of medieval times, where the troubadours developed a literary conception of love as early as the 12th century, an age that emphasized nobility and chivalry….To quote a Google source: “Medieval literature is filled with examples of knights setting out on adventures and performing various services for ladies because of their “courtly love.”….This concept persists to this day, without all the trappings of medieval social pecking orders based on a rigid class system that has mostly vanished….

But back in the High Middle Ages, this sort of behavior was uniformly recognized and even encouraged and glorified, to a certain extent….Unattainable because of their higher social status, the women of the nobility, be they married to barons, counts, princes, sometimes even the King’s wife, inspired so many medieval knights who were hopelessly, helplessly infused with courtly, or unrequited love….

Heedless of any risks or dangers they cheerfully broke lances, and jousted and fought with opponents at public tournaments for the exaltation and thrill of impressing their high born “lady loves”….This was based on the romantic fantasies of a society where class was everything and arranged marriages were the norm…

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The sad truth is, not much has changed since those days…We are all still just human beings, with our innate frailties, weaknesses and foibles, and oftentimes, we are not fully in control of our deeper impulses…You almost always have no conscious intention of having and developing an unrequited love scenario, it basically just happens….The only difference is that these days, without the concept of class and truly unattainable relationships ever developing, we still persist in the same emotional muddle and confusion of feelings for the one thing we can never have, like the apple in the garden of Eden…The temptation of the forbidden fruit….

Love, after all, is not a rational, logical process, but a deep seated emotional response to the charms and attraction of another person….Sometimes, often many times, we may develop a hopeless crush on someone, maybe the girl or boy who sits across from us in a high school class that we can only dare love from afar, who usually does not even know we exist…

This phenomenon is especially common in high school, which has it’s own rigid class systems based on the “cool kids” the jocks and cheerleaders who physically peak earlier than most, leaving the nerds and geeks far behind, until the “revenge of the nerds” is sometimes, but not always, manifested years down the road…..

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Sometimes the unrequited love is when you develop an intense attraction to one of your friends, the people in a marriage or boy friend/girl friend situation, you may even have your own boy friend or girlfriend but you develop strong feelings for your friends partner, but dare not act upon these feelings for fear of destroying the dynamics of both relationships…

This can be especially painful if the attraction is homoerotic, because these usually have even less chance of ever being acknowledged, reciprocated and fulfilled, yet the truth remains, “the heart is a lonely hunter,” as the saying goes…

So the years drift by and you see this other couple socially, often on a regular basis if you live nearby, and especially on the big holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years Eve….

If they are part of your social set you may see them regularly, at cocktail parties, or casual dinners, or bump into them at the grocery store, and each and every time your heart skips a beat when the one you pine for may smile or look at you or laugh at one of your jokes, but the real truth is that they are usually totally unaware of your attraction to them, oblivious to the depth of your deep seated feelings and longings…….

More modern literature also abounds in famous examples of unrequited love, like “Gone With the Wind” where Scarlet O’Hara pines endlessly for Ashley, the husband of her best friend, or “The Great Gatsby” wherein Gatsby has a life long crush on Daisy Buchanan, who is married to his rich neighbor….

Or “Ethan Frome” by Edith Wharton, a minor classic novel set in the bleak, harsh cold and snow of a New England small town background where the protagonist Ethan develops a mad longing for his cold, hypochondriac wife’s cousin Zeena, who comes to work for them as a maid….

Forbidden by the societal mores of their times, and even in our modern times of today, even the most intense, passionate love the lover feels for the object of his affections can never, by definition, even be expressed, let alone returned…

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This is the most painful of loves, the angst and heartbreak of unrequited love, the burning one way passion that fires up one person emotionally to unimaginably giddy heights, while the object of their affection is not only unattainable, but usually even totally unaware of the emotional intensity of the one who is so love struck….

They are so bound up in emotional sensations that they are literally paralyzed by fear….Fear mostly of rejection, but also fear of discovery of their forbidden one way love affair in the first place…

Oh, the exquisite agony of hanging on another person’s every word, every innocent glance, every casual touch or brushing up against them sending an electric current of love, lust and desire coursing through you, yet knowing deep inside that you can never act upon your true feelings!….

It must be hell, if you are one of these people caught up in such a situation….. And it is so shrouded in secrecy, by it’s very nature, there are no clear cut statistics to truly indicate how many people ARE affected (afflicted?) with this syndrome, but it is definitely a part of the human psyche and the complex emotional set of feelings we all share as human beings….

One thing is sure, unrequited love has always been with us and probably always will be…There is no known cure and no vaccinations to prevent it’s onset….The human heart is and always has been a mystery to poets and artists throughout the centuries, and even though some things were never meant to be, that doesn’t mean that people will ever be able to fully control their emotions…

Because emotions, not only intellect and logic, are what makes us all truly human…So once again, in closing, I will quote the great philosopher/singer Steven Tyler (Aerosmith) from his epic song, “Dream On”:
“Who knows, where it comes, and where it goes….”

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