One-sided love can be difficult to deal with, whether you’re the one who’s in love or not. The latter is often under-represented, especially in poetry where strong romantic feelings win out over their absence. Where you don’t have feelings for someone and rarely see them it probably isn’t a problem at all… but it can be if the one who wants you is a friend you care about. You don’t want to hurt them, but at the same time want to be clear where the friendship begins and ends. From being on both sides of the fence, I think I can see where problems can needlessly arise.
The big problem I’ve seen in these situations is hope. Hope is a tenacious thing that can live on in contravention to all logic. Depending on how deep the feelings are, logic will probably have gone out the window anyway, but allowing it to exist in support of hope is a really bad idea. One response I’ve never received from an uninterested party is something along the lines of:
“I’m terribly flattered but I don’t feel the same way.”
Instead, it has invariably been an excuse like:
“If it wasn’t for X, I would be interested.”
Such responses allow hope to live on, completely supported by the logic that if changing X is possible, then love might win the day.
From painful experience I think it would be mostly safe to consider any no as a simple, flat no. It’s unfair, but I’ve seen situations many times where a friendship becomes more and more friction-filled from this point as the person who isn’t interested thinks they’ve been clear (when they haven’t) and this frustration then sours their view of the other person. It’s not always as simple as this, of course, but it’s a real shame when a friendship fails because of obviously poor communication.
Perhaps another difficulty for the uninterested party can be when they perceive a lot of interest but it’s never clearly stated. As a man I’ve come across this more often than the rare (and impressive) occasion(s) when a woman actually asks you out. When there’s never any clarity but regular hints, it can be tiresome, especially if you don’t feel certain enough to come out first and state that you’re not interested. In such cases I’ve been as clear as possible, perhaps detailing in hypothetical discussions about love how I would never leave a woman I had feelings for uncertain as to how I felt. If she was agreeable I’d take her in my arms, show her how I felt, pledge my absolute obedience to her, worship her and perhaps even set up my own fertility cult with her as the goddess through which life eternal can be achieved (after we’d gotten to know each other quite a bit better, hopefully!). Maybe a lot of this mightn’t be terribly wise but I suspect that wisdom will always take a back seat in such situations.
I’ve only once been directly asked out by a woman I wasn’t interested in. She’s a very dear friend and I have strong non-romantic feelings for her. We went out to dinner (think it would be extremely rare that I would not give someone any chance), and I was reasonably clear that I didn’t feel the same way. I could certainly have been clearer, although I think I did better than I’d have hoped in such an unfamiliar situation. Perhaps if it happened again I’d try something like very clear response I’ve suggested above. It’s certainly what I’d appreciate hearing when there is no interest. If perhaps my friend might feel I wasn’t clear enough, I think I’ve at least shown quite a lot of understanding for latent affection as this is something that can be difficult to completely eliminate. I’ve never become frustrated even where certain (very minor) physical liberties were taken. If that had continued I probably would have made an issue of it, however. In the reverse situation, I’d consider a man giving a lady an unsolicited slap in the arse out of order. Anyone claiming to be completely non-sexist is either lying or they’re deluding themselves and I’d certainly expect myself to show a lady more respect until she gives me very good reason not to.
Right now I’m in love with someone who’s not interested. Her initial reply was of the “if not for X…” variety but it’s now (kind-of) clear that it was intended as a no. It’s tough, but that’s life. It’ll probably take someone like me quite a while to get over it but if she was receptive to my adoration without the feelings to match, then we would be worse off in the long run. I still hope she changes her mind (it just won’t go away) but for now I’m determined to hang on until it passes or I simply get used to it. She hasn’t had any children and I really wish there were more of her in this world (because she’s so great). If that ever happens some other, luckier guy will be responsible, however!