Remember that first time you fell in love with someone who didn’t want to be with you? The utter high you felt every time he looked your way and the brazen hurt of his cold shoulder? Each one of us experiences the pain of unrequited love at some point in our lives. This is the kind of love that gets you craving for someone’s affection and leaves you hurting and broken when they fail to give you the affection you want. Yet, like a moth to the light of a flame, you still go back to the unreturned affection as if you there is something else to be gained other than more hurt and pain.

It is really sad—that agonizing feeling of unrequited love.

But, what goes on in our minds when we’ve been rejected in love and yet insist on keeping on with the chase for the rejecter’s affection? Well, when you are rejected or ignored by someone you “love,” your brain shifts into autopilot and activates the part of the brain that is pure instinct, beneath emotion and logic. You desire the person almost instinctively, focus all your attention and energy on getting them, and are willing to risk it all to win their love. The mere possibility that the person you love might one day love you back keeps your attraction burning. You stay hopeful, against all odds, and willingly make a fool out of yourself in the name of “love,” often without a care what others think.

The process of making a total fool out of yourself in love

You do things you normally wouldn’t be found doing because you think that love will conquer all and you want to protect the fantasy world you’ve build in your mind. You spend hours in front of your computer, which has a picture of her as your wallpaper and images of her as your screensaver, trying to humor and chat her up on social networks. You like all her Facebook status updates and photos and shower her with gifts and complements in a shameless attempt to win her heart. The more you are rejected the more determined you are and the more of a total fool you make yourself.

As a 2011 scientific study showed, we feel most attracted to someone when we’re not sure if they like us or not. Any shred of uncertainty only fuels our feelings of attraction. You wind up thinking about the person more often than is necessary or even healthy. Sometimes you can’t sleep or eat because you’re wondering how they feel or how you are going to attract them. You’re basically dragging your heart on the ground and having it stepped on without any sense of self-pride.

Letting go is tough, but not impossible.

Since unrequited love mirrors all the patterns of addiction – cravings, obsessive thinking, withdrawals, distorted reality and relapse – you literary have to force yourself to break free from your love addiction. Thankfully, breaking a love addiction is tough, but not impossible. It’s a prolonged battle between you logical brain and instinctive one. Here’re five key things you should do to break free from unrequited love and move on with your life.

  1. Take an inventory of your behavior.

Write down current and past actions you’ve done with regard to the person you are drawn to and consider all actions you intend to do in the future. Do you really think your actions are fitting for someone as intelligent and enlightened as you are? When you take stock of your own inappropriate behaviors and choices, you will notice just how much you’ve lost connection to yourself and handed power over to another person. This can be all the motivation you need to do whatever it takes to get your life and sanity back.

  1. Accept that they’re just not that into you.

Admittedly, this is not going to be easy but you absolutely need to know when to ‘cut your losses.’ Hollywood romance movies have brainwashed us to believe that with enough determination we can awaken within others a love that they themselves didn’t know existed. If only you try hard enough, you’ll get your girl or guy, right? Not always. That notion only works every time in romantic movies and fiction. If you’ve spent endless amounts of time and effort on this person with little but pain and frustration to show for it, let it go already! They’re just not that into you. Sometimes knowing when to give up is the best step forward towards a truly loving and satisfying romantic relationship.

  1. Create as much distance as you possibly can.

Once you realize they are just not that into you, discontinue contact with the person and create as much distance with them as possible. This includes putting an immediate stop to your texting and e-mailing them, as well as stopping the talk about what your relationship would be like if you were together. Don’t even check their Facebook page. Those little check-ins, pokes and likes only make it worse and harder to let go.

  1. Poke holes in the romantic fantasy world you had built in your head.

List all the negative qualities you know about the person and catalog everything you don’t know about them. Imagine quarreling over things you don’t share in common, such as political views, childcare and finances. This will help you bring your crush down from the high pedestal you had placed them and begin to see her for what she really is—a human being with flaws just like any other person.

  1. Immerse yourself in activities that engage you physically, emotionally and intellectually.  

Rejection chips away at our self-esteem. Moving on from it will take some distraction and an ego boost. Do activities you love that engage you physically, emotionally and intellectually, such as traveling, playing a favorite sport or volunteering for a cause you believe in. These activities can help you feel more confident about yourself, detach you from the person you dote on and create opportunities for you to meet new people. However, be careful to avoid engaging in any potentially romantic interactions for at least six months in order to allow yourself to heal properly.

Don’t forget: Thoughts stemming from feelings of unrequited love that say it is all or nothing are wrong. Your life is not meaningless without that person. There are other people out there who are ready to love you back. You will be sad, lonely and frustrated at times, but in the end you will find the most valuable gift of all—true love. You’ll know once you have found the real thing because it will flow in both directions.