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Loves Me...Not: How to Survive (and Thrive!) in the Face of Unrequited Love

Loves Me...Not: How to Survive (and Thrive!) in the Face of Unrequited Love

by Samara O'Shea

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Maybe you haven't driven hundreds of miles in an adult diaper in order to confront the new girlfriend of an ex-lover like NASA engineer Lisa Marie Nowak. Or been humiliated on national television when your husband, the governor of South Carolina, was found cavorting in Argentina after telling you and everyone else he was hiking the Appalachian Trail like Jenny


Maybe you haven't driven hundreds of miles in an adult diaper in order to confront the new girlfriend of an ex-lover like NASA engineer Lisa Marie Nowak. Or been humiliated on national television when your husband, the governor of South Carolina, was found cavorting in Argentina after telling you and everyone else he was hiking the Appalachian Trail like Jenny Sanford. But if you've ever stalked a crush on Facebook or can't get over the guy who dumped you years ago, then Loves Me . . . Not is the book for you! With those who loved and lost or suffered unrequited love throughout history as your guide, Loves Me . . . Not comforts the broken hearted with hilarious tales, enlightening advice, and a little tough love to help you silence your inner psycho, rediscover your self esteem, and finally move on after a breakup.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Popular blogger O’Shea (Note to Self) seeks to cure readers of debilitating crushes and obsessive romantic behavior and embrace the positive side of being single. She recommends the timeless notion of loving yourself first and not seeking others to validate or complete you, while providing instructions on maintaining control of your own self-worth. In addition to pop culture references, O’Shea references the work of Erich Fromm, Eckhart Tolle, and the unhappy romances of literary icons like Maya Angelou and Hans Christian Andersen. O’Shea explains the psychology of infatuation, from the brain’s release of dopamine to a little-known condition called “limerence” that causes “an overwhelming, obsessive need to have one’s feelings reciprocated.” In the chapter “Silence Your Inner Psycho,” she discusses the pitfalls of “hot cognition” and selective hearing. As for the challenges of being single, she offers several responses to the question “Are you seeing anyone?” and lists happy, successful, unmarried people like Coco Chanel and Diane Keaton. O’Shea also boldly includes stories from her own life that, while often unflattering, serve well for hindsight-based observation and instruction. Readers seeking to shake a bout of love sickness will find solid advice and coping skills. (Feb.)
From the Publisher

"O’Shea...boldly includes stories from her own life that, while often unflattering, serve well for hindsight-based observation and instruction. Readers seeking to shake a bout of love sickness will find solid advice and coping skills."
-Publishers Weekly
Library Journal
★ 04/01/2014
As one who has endured the torture and survived, O'Shea, a popular Huffington Post blogger, says that obsessive, unrequited love isn't amour but rather an unhealthy obsession that's better left behind. Like a good friend she understands the woes involved but shows how better-than-life fantasies and unrealistic expectations can interfere with real relationships. She warns against stalking, setting oneself up for rejection, or using someone else to get over a lost flame. O'Shea also spends a chapter on unrequited platonic love—companionships in which one person is overly critical or chronically unavailable or puts their "friend" in uncomfortable positions. VERDICT The author has insight to the inner psyche that readers will appreciate and her book offers sound advice.

Product Details

February Books
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5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Introduction: I Want You to Want Me

“And then, there's another kind of love: the cruelest kind. The one that almost kills its victims. It's called unrequited love. Of that I am an expert. Most love stories are about people who fall in love with each other. But what about the rest of us? What about our stories, those of us who fall in love alone? We are the victims of the one-sided affair. We are the cursed of the loved ones. We are the unloved ones, the walking wounded. The handicapped without the advantage of a great parking space!”
~ Iris, played by Kate Winslet, in the movie The Holiday

Do you remember your first crush? Yeah, me too. I was in second grade, and Zachary Wiggins (real name) sure did put an extra skip in my prepubescent step. First crushes are easy to recall because they mark the moment in our emotional evolution when we become significantly more aware of ourselves as individuals. We have a vibrant interest in something that exists outside our home, and it has nothing to do with our parents. We can’t even ask our parents if they’ll buy it for us. It’s a different kind of want altogether.
What follows the new awareness of a crush, almost immediately, is the awareness that he, Zachary in this case, might not have a crush on me. This is why it is essential in elementary school to keep your feelings a secret and pretend like you hate the boy while chasing him around with a pink and purple baton. Even at a young age, we have a sense of what rejection is, and we know instinctively that it is not good.
I’ve had countless crushes since second grade, and I still consider the experience to be among life’s best natural highs. You’re excited for no reason. You carry around a sweet

secret, and it makes you smile while standing in strange places—like the feminine hygiene isle at CVS. You are one with nature, hence the stars in your eyes and butterflies in your stomach. Colors are brighter. Food tastes better. The sun feels warmer. And, somehow, every crush feels like first crush. Each and every time, it’s as if you’ve just been introduced to a part of yourself you didn’t know existed. You become aware all over again.
As wonderful as crushes are, however, they don’t have a very long lifespan. They tend to morph into different form very quickly. Sometimes they just evaporate, and the source of the crush no longer elicits any reaction from you. In a more dangerous alteration, the crush boils over—it grows in intensity without the reciprocation of the object of desire and becomes an obsession. A positive metamorphosis is when the crush solidifies into a relationship in which case it usually upgrades to infatuation for a few months and eventually becomes something less intense and more concrete. Unless, that is, the relationship ends against the will of one party member. In that case, it is a wide-open wound and also runs the risk of becoming an obsession if it doesn’t heal properly.
Since many of us—both single and attached—are at risk for catching an all-consuming obsession (if we don’t have one already) and since obsession itself is on the rise, that’s what we’re going to talk about. Fear not, I didn’t lure you here under false pretenses. We’re going to talk about unrequited love, too. Unrequited love is the second stage of obsession, a crush being the first. Our purpose here is to stop unrequited love in its tracks so you can avoid reaching the point of obsession and walk triumphantly away from your unreturned feelings.
The thing about unrequited love is, it’s hard to notice that you’ve slipped into it. As mentioned, it starts with an innocent, whimsical crush and what it becomes is seemingly selfless. You find yourself willing to do anything for your stud muffin. You’re willing to wash

and wax his car, update his blog, hem his pants, and carry his books to school. You feel somewhat gallant since you’re willing to go so far out of your way for another person. It feels as if you’re working toward something, and working hard is good, right? Unrequited love may also come on strong if a boy has broken up with you without warning. The goal then becomes to win back his love. He felt it once, and you’re determined to make him feel it again. In either case, your entire sense of worth has somehow ended up in someone else’s hands.
In literature, people often die in the name of unrequited love. Classic examples include: Éponine in Les Miserable, Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Little Mermaid in Hans Christen Andersen’s original The Little Mermaid (oh yes it’s true, and I’ll tell real the story in a bit). Cyrano in Cyrano de Bergerac didn’t die right away, but he lived a sullen, unfulfilled life because of it. These stories make unrequited love seem noble and self- sacrificial. Even Romeo and Juliet are often admired. Isn’t it amazing that they couldn’t live without each other? No, it’s not amazing. There is nothing romantic, cute, quixotic, or tender about two teenagers killing themselves.
Losing your life, either literally or figuratively, in the name of someone who won’t give you the time of day is not valiant. It may make for a good story, but it doesn’t translate well into reality. I know because I’ve wasted countless hours of my life scheming, dreaming, plotting, and praying for some guy to give me the attention I was willing to give him. I’d adamantly protest to my friends: How can you ask me to give up on this? Isn’t love worth fight for? Love is worth fighting for, but what I was feeling wasn’t love. It was obsession and anxiety. I hadn’t officially shaken my second-grade fear of being rejected. You could not have convinced me of that at the time, and I don’t expect to convince you either—not on this page anyway. I do hope you’ll start agreeing with me around chapter six.

I mentioned that obsession is on the rise, and the reason probably won’t surprise you. An article entitled “The Thoroughly Modern Guide to Breakups,” in the February 2011 issue of Psychology Today, cites that due to our cyber-socializing “hypersensitivity is on the rise and it’s contributing to large increases in stalking behavior.” Because Google and Facebook give us such an intimate look into other people’s lives, it is increasingly difficult to know where to draw the line. Even if you aren’t following your would-be heartthrob home, looking at his profile page everyday is feeding your feelings in a negative way. E-mail and texting are culprits, too. When someone chooses to end a relationship in a curt, cold message sent electronically, the recipient is left with no closure, which can send anyone into an emotional tailspin.
In junior high, it’s pretty straightforward. If a guy doesn’t like you, he ignores you, or makes fun of you, or calls you “kid.” As an adult, it gets more complicated. A man might flirt with you at the water cooler, but never ask you out. He might wine you, dine you, and take you to a bed and breakfast for the weekend—but he doesn’t want to be exclusive with you. He might tell you he wants to be with you one day and then stops calling the next. A man might even ask you to marry him, but then change his mind and send you an e-mail asking for the ring back (true story). Tragically, this happens, and it has always happened. Long before e- mail was invented, people were breaking hearts in careless ways.
What hasn’t always happened is the psychological study of love. That pursuit is roughly sixty years old, which is young in the research world. For the sake of my own sanity, I’ve read a great deal on the subject and learned some important things. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is that unrequited love is not love at all, but rather a lack of love. It is a lack of love for yourself. True love begins with a deep, authentic, steadfast, profound, and

passionate love for yourself. I know it sounds unbearably narcissistic. I assure you its not, and there is plenty of proof coming your way. Without that love for yourself, you look toward another person to validate you, to complete you, and to be the cherry on top of the double- fudge sundae that is your life.
In fairness to us all, we are taught to think that the answer to love’s questions lie in another person. We are presented with images of perfect love from a young age. These images are usually comprised of a man, a woman, an evil queen, a glass slipper, some talking animals, and a little fairy dust. The first problem with this ideal is that another person can’t complete you. Complement you, yes; complete you, no. The second enormous problem with fairytales is the phrase “Happily ever after.” It implies that once you find Prince Charming the hard part is over. The wedding ceremony is then viewed as the finish line rather than what it really is—the starting block.
We might be a bit more informed if German psychoanalyst Erich Fromm had decided to become an animator instead of Walt Disney. In his book The Art of Loving, Fromm declares: “The first step to take is to become aware that love is an art, just as living is an art; if we want to learn how to love we must proceed in the same way we have to proceed if we want to learn any other art, say music, painting, carpentry, or the art of medicine or engineering.”
Learning love involves study and practice, which begs the questions: How the heck do you study love? And how do you practice it? I’m going to tell you. Bear with me because I’m still learning myself, but I will reference the sages who’ve been studying it for a long time. Also know that it took me an exorbitant number of unreturned phone calls, being stood up, running into men I was dating while they’re on dates, trepid trips, humiliating falls, and ample self-demeaning behavior before I knew any of this.

Unrequited love comes in many forms. Let’s look at some of the possible scenarios:

• Hopeless Devotee – You love him—with all your heart—from a distance. You may not even talk to him regularly, and yet you know that he is the love of your life.

• Buddy Buddy – For the girl who is brave enough to ask a man out and he says, “Yes!” He even responds enthusiastically to texts messages and e-mails, yet nothing seems to happens other than friendly banter. This is because he thinks you’re his new BFF.

• The Accidental Ego Booster – Whatever he needs—he gets from you. If he needs advice, a date for a dinner party, sporadic sex, you are his girl—except he won’t make the relationship official. This is because you make him feel good when he’s down. You give his ego the temporary lift that it needs.

• Girl on the Side – You are head over heels for (maybe even sleeping with) a man in a serious relationship. The odds of him leaving her are next to none. What he needs is the romance he isn’t getting at home. Once he’s got his fix, he’ll return to her.

• The One Left Behind – Arguably the most difficult of all the unrequited scenarios. This is when a man you’ve been with—for two weeks, two months, two years, or twenty years— decides he’s done. His love or the potential of his love was once there, and now it’s gone.

We’ll discuss all of these—the symptoms and the cure. There is life after heartache. I’d even argue there’s better life after heartache. I’ve played all of the aforementioned roles (some more than others), so you’re in experienced hands.

Meet the Author

Samara O'Shea is the author of Note to Self: On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits and For the Love of Letters: A 21st-Century Guide to the Art of Letter Writing. In addition to writing letters and wedding vows on behalf of others at LetterLover.net, Samara is also a blogger for The Huffington Post, and her writing has appeared in Country Living, Woman's Day, and All You.

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