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Caring about someone who doesn’t care for us back is painful.
It’s frustrating, hurtful and probably takes a whack at our self-confidence.
I wish I didn’t, but I feel you.
Every breakup I’ve been through, I feel like I need to unlearn caring about someone who doesn’t love me back.
Whether you’re in a toxic friendship, relationship or family situation, it’s hard to let go of someone who doesn’t put the same amount of effort into you. But it’s possible and mostly necessary.
Read on to learn how to not care about someone who doesn’t care about you
If you’re reading this, you’re probably a very caring person. And I have some bad news for you, my friend: People like us don’t just stop caring because we want to.
It’s not that easy. But it’s probably not supposed to be. Once we open our hearts, it’s hard to take back the love. We don’t have to though. We just have to stop responding to our caring urges. Here’s how.
#1 Be Mindful of Reality
When we care about somebody a lot, it can be hard to accept that they don’t care about us back. The fact we pour so much time, effort or love into another human and don’t have it reciprocated—it feels unnatural. It can be easy to make excuses for too. For example, they don’t care about us because it’s our fault, we’re not good enough, they don’t have time to care, they had a bad past, etc. But the only truth is that they don’t care about us.
No matter how much we care about them, that won’t change. No matter how much we wish it were different, it won’t change.
In the beginning, we may lull into a space of hoping and even believing they’ll eventually care. But eventually, we’ll have to accept reality that they don’t and likely won’t.
#2 Realize Their Care Isn’t a Reflection
Sometimes, I think we unconsciously cling to someone who doesn’t care about us to prove to ourselves that we’re worth it. But that doesn’t prove or disprove anything.
It seems only natural to fill in the blanks when we don’t know the story. If we don’t know why they don’t care, the only reasonable conclusion is us, right? That there’s something inherently flawed with who we are—our personality, our looks, our beliefs or family.
But someone’s care for us isn’t a reflection of who we are. It’s a reflection of how they feel, which can have many factors that don’t even involve us.
#3 Accept the Pull without Giving In
When you care about someone who doesn’t care about you, there seems to be a constant pull. You really care about them and want to spend time with them, but you’re resentful that they don’t care about you back.
When you try to distance yourself from the person, there will be an automatic pull because you still care about then. You might want to go back to them, say hi or make excuses to check in with them. But we need to realize that it’s possible to both feel the pull and not give in. To feel care for them, but to realize we ultimately are better off without them.
#4 Stand Your Ground
When we start retracting from someone who doesn’t care about us back, they might try to pull us back in. They may try to convince us they care, even though we know they don’t. They may blame us, even though we know we’re not at fault. They may make us see sunshine, even though we’re well aware of the darkness that lurks behind us.
We need to stand our ground and be firm in our decision to refrain from them. We need to keep the focus on doing the best thing for ourselves. If the pull is too intense and it’s making you drift back, even if you don’t really want to, you may want to learn about gaslighting.
#5 Feel the Feels
When you’re trying to stop caring about someone you love, a ton of feelings will come up. You might feel depressed, loss, anger, loneliness and more.
Whatever you feel, feel it. Take the time to sit with the discomfort of feeling bad. Don’t try to drown them out with being busy, being with others or drugs. All that will do is push your healing down the line. Get the emotions out—whether it’s crying, screaming into a pillow, journaling or talking to a therapist.
#6 Imagine Someone Better
When we’re trying to detach from someone, it can be easy to think about all the good things about them and how much we care about them. Take a break from that to imagine someone better—whether it’s a partner, friend or family member. Even if you don’t think anyone can replace the role they filled in your life, just imagine if someone were to. What would that person look like? Daydream about the possibility of meeting someone who better fills your needs and who actually cares. Know that somebody similar is out there. And you have the option of eventually finding them if you let go of the person who doesn’t care about you.
#7 Forgive Yourself
If you know that some of your actions led to someone not caring about you, you need to find space to forgive yourself.
For example, let’s say you really care about someone but you hurt them. In response to that, the person decided to stop caring about you. It’s their right to enforce their boundary. But you’re left figuring out how to stop caring about someone who doesn’t care about you.
Consider the lessons learned from the experience. What would you do differently next time to treat the person? After you’ve reflected on this, realize that this is all you can do in this moment. You can commit to a better future, but you can’t change the past. Seeing this, forgive yourself for your actions in the past.
#8 Realize Your Positive Attributes
As we said above, when someone doesn’t care about us back, it can feel like a personal hit. Why don’t we deserve their care? The dig at our ego can cause us to want to seek more validation.
But we can learn how to validate ourselves in these moments. Just because somebody doesn’t care about you doesn’t mean you aren’t worthy. You are. You’re just a better fit for someone who values your positive attributes. So what are they?
List all the positive things others would benefit from if they’re in a relationship/friendship with you. Stuck? I got the first item on your list: You’re super caring. Which is an amazing characteristic for any partner or friend 🙂
#9 Retreat to Distractions
When we first start accepting that someone doesn’t care about us back, it can be all we think about. It can be hard to bare. We may continue to go back to them because we care about them.
A good way to become stable away from them is to have some distractions. Although you need to feel your feelings, having activities to retreat to can give you a break from the constant mental battle. It can help you stay away and not care about someone who doesn’t care about you.
Distractions could include:
- Self-care activities
- Doing crafts
- Playing an instrument
- Leaning a new language
- Reorganizing your home
#10 List Their Downfalls
When we’re looking for ways on how to not care about someone who doesn’t care about you, it can help to consider the person’s downfalls. Of course, if we care about and miss them, we already know there’s a lot of good things about the person. But knowing they don’t care about us means that we need to detach. That’s going to be easier if we can reason why we’re doing so.
Think about the things you don’t like about the person, small or big. It could be a pet peeve, such as eating loudly. A friend that only talks about herself. Or a partner who’s cheated on you before.
Realize that these negative attributes help balance the person out—leading you to see the reality about them. Whenever you find yourself idealizing your relationship with them, reflect on your list.
#11 Learn to Care in Another Way
I know you’re reading this post because you want to know how to not care about someone who doesn’t care about you. But the truth is, you might still care about someone. Hell, you might always care about this person. And that’s okay.
You’ll just learn to care in a different way. One that doesn’t hurt you or cross your boundaries.
It’s possible to care about someone in a way that wishes their future well, even if you’re not in it. It’s possible to be resentful if someone’s future is going well but still care and want the best for them anyway.
Caring about others means we open our hearts to them. It means we have the courage to make ourselves vulnerable to the possibility that we won’t be cared for back. It’s a beautiful thing, even if it makes us more suspectable to grief. We don’t have to stop it. We just have to learn how to care differently without the person in our lives.
Learning how to not care about someone who you love could be one of the toughest things you’ll do. But once you know they don’t put that same effort toward you, it’s best to let them go.
Even know that, it can be hard to do. Using the tips in this post can help you gain the self-compassion and resiliency you need to move forward.
Most importantly, know that someone not caring about you isn’t a reflection on you. And it doesn’t mean you should stop. Caring about people as deeply as you do is a beautiful thing. It makes your heart more open to pain. But it also makes it more open to love too.