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

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated December 8, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

One-sided love is a deeply emotional experience of affection and devotion that is not reciprocated. Research shows that unrequited love is something that most people experience at some point in life, and it can pose significant challenges to an individual's emotional well-being. The delicate balance between holding onto hope and acknowledging the reality of unrequited love often leaves individuals in a state of emotional turmoil. 

Recognizing when to fight for the relationship and when to let go can be challenging, but it may help preserve one's emotional well-being. Navigating the complexities of one-sided love may require 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 for your emotional well-being. This process typically 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 may help you cultivate healthier emotional landscapes and more meaningful connections.

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Signs Of One-Sided Love

In romantic relationships, one-sided love can be an emotionally taxing and heart-wrenching experience. When someone finds themselves in this situation, certain signs may help identify the imbalance in affection and connection. 

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

Another possible 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 experiencing one-sided love 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 can also be 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 may empower the individual to regain their sense of self, which may lead to healthier relationships. 


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 grow from the experience. 

First, open communication may be helpful in gaining clarify. The individual who is in love can express their feelings and discuss the relationship with the other person, especially if it is feeling one-sided. By doing so, they might better understand the other person's perspective and intentions. This process may be difficult and leave them feeling vulnerable, but it may deepen the relationship or help them obtain closure if the feelings are not mutual.

Setting boundaries may also help with navigating one-sided love. This may involve limiting the time spent with the other person or avoiding certain situations that may exacerbate their feelings. By setting healthy boundaries, they might maintain their self-respect and prevent further emotional turmoil.

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

Lastly, recognizing when it's time to let go and move on may help when a person is navigating one-sided love. Despite the pain and heartache, the individual may need to acknowledge the reality of the situation and make the conscious decision to let go. This acceptance may pave the way for personal growth and the opportunity to find healthier, more fulfilling relationships.

Letting Go

Letting go of a relationship is often not an easy process, but it can sometimes be necessary to prioritize personal happiness. If you find yourself experiencing one-sided love, you might consider the possibility that the relationship maybe wouldn’t be healthy or fulfilling. While this may seem like denial, it’s more like a reframing or restructuring of thoughts, which is part of the evidence-based practice of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Many people who experience one-sided love eventually find a much more fulfilling relationship. 

Even though it can be challenging to think this way in the midst of emotional challenges, by facing the reality of the situation, you may find that you can make informed decisions about what's best for your well-being.

Next, acknowledging your feelings may allow you to feel the pain of letting go rather than suppressing or ignoring your emotions. Also, you don’t have to face this process alone. You can seek support from loved ones or a therapist who can help you process your feelings healthily and constructively.

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Focusing on self-care can be another important aspect of letting go. You may find solace and strength by nurturing your mind, body, and spirit. Self-care might help you not only cope with the current situation but also lay the foundation for a healthier and happier future.

Finally, moving on is often an essential part of letting go. You might consider creating a new vision for your future, independent of the relationship you were hoping would work. By opening yourself up to new opportunities and relationships, you may find that you can rebuild your life and find happiness in new connections.

Talking To A Therapist About One-Sided Love

If you’re experiencing emotional challenges related to one-sided love, you may find it helpful to speak with a licensed therapist. Therapists are typically trained in helping people who are experiencing unrequited love. If you’re not feeling well enough to visit a therapist’s office at this time, you might consider online therapy, which numerous studies have shown to be just as effective as in-person therapy. 

Online therapy offers a convenient avenue for individuals experiencing one-sided love. With an online therapy platform, you can connect with a licensed therapist via live chat, phone, or videoconferencing—or a combination of these methods. With BetterHelp, you can also message your therapist at any time via in-app messaging, and they’ll respond as soon as they can. This may be useful if you want to ask questions or discuss your thoughts or emotions in between sessions. 


One-sided love is typically characterized by unreciprocated affection, and it can present some significant challenges to an individual's mental health and emotional well-being. It can be difficult to know whether to maintain hope or accept the reality of unrequited feelings. Fighting for the relationship might involve open communication to explore the possibility of a deeper connection. However, desired outcomes aren't guaranteed. In these situations, letting go of one-sided love may be necessary for emotional well-being, and it may even lead to a much stronger connection with someone else. 

It may help to speak with a licensed therapist about one-sided love and how to know what to do in this situation. Take the first step toward more clarity and emotional well-being and reach out to BetterHelp today.

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