A long time ago in college, I decided to take a graduate level psychology class. I had already taken some of the lower courses for my minor and while I wasn’t a graduate student, the professor gave me permission to go ahead and take “The Psychology of Relationships.”
It was fascinating, the topics, yes, and also the class structure. There were only 10 of us and we sat around an oval-shaped table and discussed these topics. And at the end, we were to give a presentation that make up for 75 percent of our final grade.
My assignment, unrequited love. We partnered up with someone, like couples, to give our presentations.
I dug into the topic, this idea that someone could have such strong feelings for another and they were simply not returned. There were so many forms of unrequited love, the relationship that broke, someone pining over another, the love triangle, and more.
We studied the relationship cycle and how and why a person will decide to stay, very much akin to an abusive relationship, weighing pros and cons.
I took this all with me as I prepared, feeling a bit nervous to speak in front of this group that was at a minimum 2 years my senior, or more.
But first, I had a deadline to meet. I raced back to our media building as I was the editor in chief of our yearbook. We owed a number of pages to the printer and I was running back to that building in between classes, every chance I got.
My boyfriend had been on a trip to New Orleans with some friends from school, all guys and one new girl I hadn’t met yet. He was seemingly distant upon return, and while I had to saunter off to work towards these deadlines late a night, he decided to go to a bar with friends. I couldn’t have met him if I wanted too as I wasn’t even 21 at the time. But like all things complicated, I didn’t have time to sweat the small stuff and focused on my tasks at hand. The next day was my presentation and my big due date for yearbook.
While I certainly had a bit more fun than I needed too at school, I also took things like deadlines, commitments, etc. very seriously. So day-of the big presentation, I rehearsed my speech and then headed off to the media building in between classes to review more copy.
Then, the phone rang at the media building (circa not many cell phones existing) and it was my boyfriend. He said I needed to come over, quickly, he had something important to discuss. Still rehearsing my presentation in my mind, I asked him if this could wait. He said no.
So with only an hour till my class presentation and still a large deadline looming over me, I drove over to his apartment, nearby our school campus.
He told me that he and the girl that came to New Orleans had something. That, “She made [his] head spin.” And I sat there, feeling all the feelings of disappointment, but more importantly, the anger at squashing that little voice inside my head that tried to tell me something was wrong. That little voice was screaming at me, but I pretended to be too busy. I didn’t have a rebuttal, how could I? I could’ve focused on the cheating aspect or been really angry with him (that all came later anyhow). But in that moment, I just walked away feeling a new sense of pain spread from my chest to my fingertips.
The irony was not lost on me. I could’ve simply given him my speech on unrequited love.
So during our presentation, the words “unrequited love” rang over and over again in my mind. I couldn’t help but grimace. All I could do was simply stare back at this class knowing they had no idea what I had just gone through. It couldn’t get more real than this, I thought.
Our grades had finally came in. And my professor gave us a B for the presentation. Turns out we didn’t have enough emotion.