Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ask Asha: Unrequited Love

[You can ask your own question here.]


I am in love with one of my colleagues. He knows that I love him, but he doesn’t love me. We were great friends for many months, but then the situation changed and our friendship got torn away. He has new friends and looks like he is happy with them. I, on the other hand, feel very sad. I am not getting over my feelings for him. He talks to me, but we are not close, as we used to be earlier. I have tried many things to overcome my feelings. No matter how much I try, the feelings come back more strongly. I feel like no one but he is my companion and I must have him in my life. I don’t feel like praying for anything other than him. I have read inspirational books, talked to healers, but nothing has worked. I don’t think I can feel romantic love for any other guy. I really want things to work out with him. Please help.

From R.


Dear R:

I would like to write to you in an optimistic, upbeat way. To assure you that if you visualize strongly enough, and pray hard enough, whatever you want will come to you.

Alas, I cannot sincerely do that.

Very often in life we do not get what we want. Unrequited love is all too common. One person may be deeply devoted and sees a happy life possibility but the object of that affection does not respond. These things happen. You have not been singled out by fate. This is a hard learning that many people have to go through.

When the mother of a friend died a few years ago at the age of nearly 90, my friend had to sort out her belongings. She was taking photos out of picture frames to put them in an album. Behind the pictures of her father she was surprised to see pictures of another man! Her mother had told her that early in her life she had hoped to marry that man, but he was already engaged and could not break his engagement. So she married the man who became my friend’s father and lived with him for 50 years. But behind his picture she kept the photo of the one she considered to be her true love.

Wow. You don’t know whether to weep, laugh, or bow in awe to her devotion.

I present this merely to say that the position you are in is not uncommon. And no matter how often you insist that this is the only man for you and you must have him, there is no divine law that says your desire will be fulfilled.

Maybe, but no guarantee. And from what you have told me that happy ending doesn’t seem likely. God apparently wants you to learn and grow in another way.

So the question is simply this: How long do you want to keep throwing yourself against this brick wall in the hope that one of these times it will turn into an open door?

No one can make that decision for you. It is entirely up to you.

This man knows that you love him and has decided not to respond. Perhaps you feel that sheer determination on your part will change his mind. Unfortunately, nothing you say makes me believe that he will change.

He has free will. You can’t make him feel what he doesn’t feel. I would hope that you value yourself enough to accept that he has made a decision and not put yourself in the undignified position of mute yearning.

Even if you think he would have the best possible life with you -- even if you feel that God Himself agrees with you -- if the man doesn’t see it, it isn’t going to happen. God will respect his free will. It is a divine law.

As for your actual sense of inner guidance or divine rightness in your commitment to this man as your life partner, I can only say that given your desire that he be your life partner, any guidance you get must be treated very cautiously.

The first step in learning to attune to true superconscious divine guidance is to be detached inwardly. Desire is blinding. Yes, you may feel a strong inner pull toward him which you may think is coming from a source greater than yourself, but I would be very cautious about declaring that inner feeling to be God’s will.

One way to tell is by the results. If this man is meant to be your partner, he will be. If he is not, no amount of wishing or praying will draw him to you. One can have strong feelings and still inwardly surrender to God’s will. That combination leaves one at peace no matter how things turn out. Not easy, but often the only choice.

I pray that you are able to embrace this attitude, even in this matter where your feelings are so deeply involved.

From childhood I have always had a deep desire to be happy. Later, when I got on the spiritual path, I understood that desire on a deeper level -- that it is bliss I long for.

When I was growing up, I assumed everyone had the same desire for happiness that I had. I was surprised when I became a teenager and then went to college to see how many people seemed willing to go on indefinitely in an unhappy state. The difference between them and me was that I was willing to change those things in myself that caused my unhappiness.

Not that it is always easy. Far from it! But my tolerance for being unhappy seemed to be much lower than that of many other people. They could handle being miserable. I could not. The hard work of letting go of a desire that was never going to be fulfilled, or changing an attitude that caused misery, or leaving a situation that wasn’t working out, was always more attractive to me than continued suffering.

To my astonishment, many people seem to prefer to suffer rather than accept the absolute necessity to change.

I feel you are caught in just that place. You frankly say that you don’t want to get over this desire. You want the desire fulfilled! Naturally, therefore, the desire persists!

So the question again is, “How long do you want to be unhappy?”

At some point the present misery will be greater than the imagined misery of letting go of your hope to be with this man.

Yes, a miracle could happen. He could have a total change of heart. But I assure you, clinging to this desire will not bring about that result. If God wants you to be together you can leave the country, take up residence on the other side of the world, and never tell him where you are and he will still find you.

And if it isn’t in your best divine interest to be with him, then you can hover around him longingly for the rest of your life and it won’t draw him to you.

Yes, a degree of faith is needed here. And courage. My heart goes out to you. Nothing is more difficult than redirecting the heart’s love once it has been given.

Now let us look at it from another angle.

Merely to take out of your life this desire is not going to be easy. Far better to think how to bring into your life positive realities that will make it easier to live also with the sad spot his absence creates in your heart.

Here is a question: What good things do you imagine would happen if you and he were together? What activities would you enjoy? What changes do you think would happen in your own consciousness?

Naturally, some things would be dependent on his company, but by no means all.

If you think you might become active in social things that you are not doing now, that you might have friendships that you don’t presently have, that you will be kind and serviceful and giving to others if he were your partner, I suggest you engage yourself in everything you imagine you would do if he were with you that is open to you now without him.

In this way, the positive result you hope for from the relationship can begin to manifest right now even without the relationship. Since this is the position God has put you in, it seems appropriate as a devotee and a disciple to see what good you can manifest with what you have.

Not only will this make your life better right now, it will also get you out of this cycle of waiting for something to happen that doesn’t seem likely to happen.

And if, in the end, he is drawn to you, then you will have made yourself a happier better person in the meantime. And if he never comes to you, you will be a happier better person, rather than a lonely, stuck person.

If you can’t sincerely pray to overcome this desire, then pray for the courage to live happily no matter what happens. That way you are sincere in your desire to be with him, but also not frozen in time, dependent on one small fact for the definition of your life.

I will pray for you.

Nayaswami Asha

[Questions and answers from other Ananda ministers worldwide can be found on the Ask the Experts page of]


  1. I love Asha's advice. I remember being in the is kind of situation. Not once but several times! Then, in a conversation with a friend, she said, "I don't I am in love with a person, I think I am in love with love, with the feeling of being in love."

    That rung true to me. Now I know the feeling of being in love is what we look for, and that is really divine love.

    From a fellow sufferer of this kind of ailment, my advice is just hang in there, holding onto God while the storms and waves of strong feeling crash over your head. At some point the storm will abate. I have found these are tests, I find now that I can act with selfless love, and give to others in a way I could not have done had I not gone through these tests.

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