One-Sided Love: When To Fight And When To Let Go

Updated April 3, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

One-sided love, defined as the deeply emotional experience of affection and devotion not being reciprocated, can pose significant challenges to an individual's mental health. The delicate balance between holding onto hope and acknowledging the reality of unrequited feelings often leaves individuals in a state of emotional turmoil. Recognizing when to fight for the relationship and when to let go is important for preserving one's emotional well-being and fostering relationships. Navigating the complexities of one-sided love requires a keen understanding of the signs that indicate unbalanced affection, such as feeling consistently undervalued or not being prioritized by the other person. At times, fighting for the relationship may seem like the right course of action. However, the outcome may not always be desired, as feelings cannot be forced or manufactured. On the other hand, letting go of one-sided love can be a difficult but necessary step in the pursuit of emotional well-being. This process involves acknowledging the reality of the situation, accepting the emotions involved, and ultimately prioritizing self-love and self-care. Understanding the nuances of one-sided love, recognizing the signs, and making informed decisions about fighting for the relationship or letting go can help individuals cultivate healthier emotional landscapes and more meaningful connections.

Signs Of One-Sided Love

In romantic relationships, one-sided love can be an emotionally taxing and often heart-wrenching experience. When someone finds themselves in this situation, certain signs can help identify the imbalance in affection and connection. Time explains, “Between human beings, love is a relational word. Yes, you can love things that do not love you back—but the love of other people is directional. There is a lover and a beloved—you don’t just love, but you love at someone. And real love is not only about the feelings of the lover; it is not egotism. It is when one person believes in another person and shows it.”

One of the most telling signs of one-sided love is constant feelings of rejection and anxiety. The individual may put themselves out there, hoping for reciprocation, only to be met with silence or dismissed. The seemingly endless uncertainty causes them to worry excessively and wonder why their feelings aren't being returned.

Another indication of unrequited love is when one person focuses almost entirely on the other person's needs and desires, often at their own expense. This self-sacrificing behavior can result in them losing sight of their self-worth and happiness. Additionally, a person in a one-sided love affair may ignore red flags and negative behavior from the other person. Their infatuation can lead them to overlook signs of manipulation or mistreatment, causing further emotional turmoil and potential harm.

Obsessive thoughts and actions related to the other person are also common in such situations. The person in love may find it challenging to focus on anything else, spending countless hours daydreaming about their love interest or devising plans to capture their attention. This obsession can disrupt their daily life and overall well-being.

The struggle to move on from the relationship is often a final sign of one-sided love. Even when the person acknowledges the imbalance in the relationship, they may find it incredibly difficult to let go and move forward. While the journey may be painful, acknowledging the reality of the situation can empower the individual to seek healthier relationships and regain their sense of self.

Navigating One-Sided Love

Navigating one-sided love can be a challenging and emotionally draining experience. However, with the right strategies and mindset, it is possible to survive and grow from the experience. First, open communication is vital. It is important for the individual to express their feelings and discuss the relationship with the other person, especially if it is feeling one-sided. By doing so, they can better understand the other person's perspective and intentions. This process may be difficult and leave them feeling vulnerable, but it can be essential to finding closure or potentially deepening the relationship.

Setting boundaries is another crucial aspect of navigating one-sided love. This may involve limiting the time spent with the other person or avoiding certain situations that may exacerbate their feelings. They can maintain their self-respect and prevent further emotional turmoil by setting healthy boundaries.

In the face of unrequited love, self-improvement and self-care can also be powerful tools. By investing in themselves, they can foster a sense of self-worth independent of the relationship. Surrounding themselves with supportive friends and family can provide a much-needed emotional buffer during this difficult time. 

Lastly, recognizing when it's time to let go and move on is important when navigating one-sided love. Despite the pain and heartache, the individual must accept that not every love story has a happy ending. It is essential to acknowledge the reality of the situation and make the conscious decision to let go. This acceptance will pave the way for personal growth and the opportunity to find healthier, more fulfilling relationships.

Fighting For The Relationship

In the world of relationships, challenges and obstacles are inevitable. However, with determination and resilience, individuals can fight for the relationships they cherish. First, the individual may want to evaluate the relationship to determine if it's worth fighting for. Reflecting on the relationship's strengths and weaknesses and considering whether both parties share common values, goals, and interests can help them decide if the relationship has a strong foundation worth building upon.

Time quotes A Book About Love to explain why persisting can be important, “Grit determines how we persist in trying situations. Marriage has plenty of trying situations. People who are particularly low in grit, when love feels like work, they’re more likely to drop out the same way soldiers do at West Point. Love lasts, but it doesn’t last by itself. It’s not magic. It lasts because we can make it last because we keep putting in the work.”

Communicating openly is also important. The person should express their needs and desires and listen to the other person's perspective. This open dialogue creates a space for honesty and vulnerability, allowing both partners to understand each other's feelings and expectations better. 

Much like when navigating the relationship, setting boundaries is another important aspect when fighting for a relationship. The individual should establish healthy limits, which may involve discussing personal limitations with their partner and agreeing on mutually acceptable expectations.

Last, giving the relationship time to grow and evolve is important. By allowing the relationship to progress organically, they can develop a deeper understanding of each other and build a stronger connection over time. Patience and perseverance are key to nurturing a lasting bond.

Letting Go

Letting go of a relationship is never an easy process, but it is sometimes necessary to prioritize personal happiness. The individual must consider that the relationship may not be healthy or fulfilling. This realization can be difficult to come to terms with, but by facing the reality of the situation, they can make informed decisions about what's best for their well-being.

Next, acknowledging one's feelings allows one to feel the pain of letting go rather than suppressing or ignoring their emotions. They can seek support from loved ones or a therapist who can help them process their feelings healthily and constructively.

Focusing on self-care is another important aspect of letting go. They can find solace and strength by nurturing their mind, body, and spirit. Self-care not only helps them cope with their current situation but also lays the foundation for a healthier and happier future.

Finally, moving on is an essential part of letting go. The individual should create a new vision for their future, independent of the relationship they're leaving. By opening themselves up to new opportunities and relationships, they can rebuild their lives and find happiness in new connections.

Seeking Support Online

Online therapy offers a convenient and accessible avenue for individuals dealing with one-sided love to seek professional support and guidance. The flexible scheduling options can be especially valuable for those grappling with the emotions and challenges of unrequited love, as it provides a safe space to openly discuss their feelings, explore coping strategies, and work on personal growth. Online therapy can empower individuals to navigate the complexities of one-sided love more effectively, fostering emotional well-being and resilience.

One study examined the provision of online counseling and emotional support by triangulating information from a statistical analysis. The study found, “Despite practitioners' concerns relating to misinterpretation, misrepresentation and the lack of non-verbal cues, online conversations are shown to span a greater variety of topics and focus on more sensitive issues than verbal sessions. Online services have the potential for reaching clients in accessible and meaningful ways.” As research indicates, online counseling has the potential to reach clients in meaningful ways, offering a valuable resource for those seeking support in managing unrequited love.


One-sided love, characterized by unreciprocated affection and devotion, presents significant challenges to an individual's mental health. Striking a balance between maintaining hope and accepting the reality of unrequited feelings is crucial for preserving emotional well-being and fostering healthier relationships.  Fighting for the relationship might involve open communication and exploring the possibility of a deeper connection. However, desired outcomes aren't guaranteed, as feelings can't be forced. Alternatively, while challenging, letting go of one-sided love may be necessary for emotional well-being. Understanding one-sided love, recognizing the signs, and making informed decisions about fighting for the relationship or letting go can foster healthier emotional states and more meaningful connections.

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