Painful is an understatement, as anyone who’s experienced this will tell you. The pain is real. It gets physical. I have never been stabbed as many times as Julius Caesar, but I am sure it feels exactly like that.

It can also lead you to make some of your dumbest decisions, so you better brace yourself.

I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone this, but in my first year in college I fell in love with a girl named Hedwig. About a week later I found out through a friend that Hedwig had a boyfriend, who was totally not like me. The friend told me not to worry, he’s not like you, because he doesn’t give a shit about anything. Still, that didn’t help, and I did two unbelievably dumb things.

I shot the messenger and got mad at my friend for telling and never spoke to her again… How very rational….

And number two:

I quit college.

Yup, I quit college.

Because of a girl.

I was studying history at the time. I wasn’t really learning anything new there. The whole course on the Second World War was more basic than the course I taught when I was 11. (My therapist says my teachers must have been crazy to let me do this, but at the time I taught I was Mr Genius. I was not of course…)

I hid in the library and in parks for the rest of the academic year and started reading and writing. Yes, that’s when I started writing.

Sort of the same thing happens two years later. I’m back in college (luckily) and I’m studying Slavic Languages, slightly less basic than history.

I fall in love with a housemate, called Anneleen.

One night, after rejecting me for about 4 months, she comes to my room when I’m sound asleep and jumps naked into my bed.

I’m so shocked that I don’t do anything. I almost don’t touch her.

She’s so disappointed or turned off that she retreats to her room and never talks to me again.

Nothing has ever had a bigger impact on me than this single event.

I started training my ass off, I got ripped, I became übersocial, I joined a student organisation, I started acting, I wrote more systematically than before, and only 5 months later after my crush had dived into my bed I got my dream girlfriend, Sabine. She took the room of my crush. Yeah, Anneleen moved out and unwittingly made space for Sabine. It had gotten a little too awkward. But this time I stayed put and I swore this would NEVER happen to me EVER AGAIN.

It did happen to me again, more than a decade (ten years!) later.

So what can you do?

This is what worked for me:

  • Make the decision to get into your best physical shape ever. Run, lift weights, sweat, build muscle. It gives you something to focus on, makes you feel alive, pumps you up, it’s something positive, makes you make healthy life style adjustions, and you get some attention from other people, which is nice.
  • Read. Soak up wise words.
  • Express yourself. Write, videoblog, dance, I don’t know, use your favorite form of expression and throw it out of your system
  • Stop bothering the person you have a crush on. Chances are you’ve made this person very uncomfortable. It’s not just about you. Avoid the person you have a crush on, it will pass, but it will only pass if you stop seeing this person and this person will need breathing space. Even -no, especially-  if you care deeply about this person, stay away from them. Let it heal. Don’t rip open the wound.
  • Analyze why it happened. What drew you this person? Was it just phyiscal attraction? Was it their personality? What are the qualities you admired? Is something lacking in your life? Maybe you miss the way that person made you feel. Can you get that feeling through your own actions, independent of that person? Like one of my crushes has told me -again- how much I value my parents. She has qualities of both my parents and she reminds me of my childhood and the atmosphere of passion, of borderlessness, of free love, of beauty and good-natured breaking rules that was in our house when I grew up. A wonderful thing to be reminded of.
  • Always ask: What if this unrequitted love is a gift? What is it? What is this telling me? What can I learn from this? In my case: The first time it happened it woke me up to the fact that I didn’t want to be a history student, that I wanted to do something more difficult. The second time it happened it woke me up -literally- that I wanted to be the kind of guy that has sex with the girl who dives into his bed naked in the middle of the night. It also woke me up to the fact that I was full of love. That night was the first time I let my parents know that I loved them.
  • Ten years ago playing board games helped. It makes you interact with people face to face, draws you into strategic decision making processes and you don’t have to have a real conversation. Note that I mention board games, not video games. I do not recommend video games, because I know some guys get badly rejected and get hooked on video games for years to come, which DOES NOT benefit you at all.
  • Now is a great time to show appreciation for the people who love you
  • Focus on your work, especially if you’re on a mission that feels right to you. Embrace your mission. The second time it happened to me I went into acting, I went into making a fool of myself on stage, I couldn’t define why at the time, but I guess my mission was to make people take themselves less seriously and be more…. authentic.
  • The people who care about you WILL be there for you, even if you don’t tell them, they will notice it.
  • Every time it happened it brought new people into my life. Why? I think because after an event that is so painful, you start vibrating differently, you go through changes, people notice, so you attract different people.
  • Be open to new experiences. Try to see this event as a message from the universe that you need to change a couple of things about yourself, no pain, no gain. See it as an opportunity to

#thrive