First Love Still Breaks His Heart
Q: I never experienced what I believe was love until a year ago. In my second year of college I met the most amazing girl. We were both on Student Senate, so we spent a lot of time together hanging out and becoming really good friends. Eventually, we did end up falling for each other, and it was the most amazing feeling just to be around her. There was so much about her that I loved. And just seeing the world from her point of view gave me a whole new perspective. In a very good way, she changed my life. We were great for a month or two until she told me she wanted to just be friends because she needed some time to work out her life, and she felt she wasn't ready to be with anyone. I understood and agreed to it because I really cared for her and I didn't think it would last too long. But I could feel her slowly drifting away from me.
Throughout the past year I have struggled with my feelings for her. We have hung out quite a bit because we are still friends, and I value her friendship more than anything. I have told her on several occasions how I really feel about her, and I've tried showing her in so many ways, but she still wants to do her own thing. Lately, I have been trying so hard to get over her because she has broken my heart so many times. It's a little easier now because she's at a different college a few hours away, but we do still talk and when she comes home to visit I can't help but think of all the memories that I shared with her. A huge part of me just wants to get over her and move on so that I won't hurt anymore. But the rest of me just WILL NOT let go. That part would give anything to be her knight in shining armor where nobody else could be. No matter how many times my heart breaks, a part of me is hoping and praying that she'll come around. I don't know what to do. I'm lost. -- Bobby, 20
Dr. Susan: Young love, first love, any deeply felt love: there are few tortures like that of unrequited love. Just think of all the memorable love songs, all those heartfelt poems, the books, the movies, all expressing the pain of a lost love. Join the throngs of sad men and women, Bobby. That's not to make any less of your feelings. Not at all. It's real pain. And it's unlikely to be the last time you'll have to go through something like this. (Although getting your heart broken repeatedly by the same person only makes you seem a little ... dense, perhaps, or masochistic.)
So here's what you do. You break off contact with her. You say you value your friendship with her above all, but that's only because you have the forlorn hope she'll change her mind and get close to you again. Be honest with yourself! She won't, that's pretty clear by now. And by hanging out with her like a lovesick puppy, you're only prolonging the agony. She is NOT going to suddenly see you differently. She has made up her mind. You need to let go, and the only way to do it is to stop seeing her and communicating with her and spending time with her. That's not to say you can't someday be friendly again. But you need to get out there into the world and try a little dating. Believe me, she is not the only amazing girl in the world. She's not!
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.