I had an ocean-wide crush on Julie Andrews when I was a boy and it was all for naught. You don’t get to choose who you fall in love with and, sadly dammit, you don’t get to choose who falls in love with you. You do, however, get to choose how you respond to either reality. When two people realize they have fallen in love with each other, the choices are relatively clear, if they are honest.
When one person falls in love with someone who has not responded in kind, the choices are again relatively clear, if honesty is the guide, though not always easy. But, perhaps, easier, though not pain free, if the love you feel is in fact, genuine. You cannot and and should not look to impose your will, to manipulate the other person into feeling the same way you do. The results of such an effort are never healthy. This last is not my instinct in the least. I want and deserve to know someone loves me freely and truly. Period. End of story.
There is another element to love, real love, as far as I’m concerned, that doesn’t seem to get the notice it deserves. Kindness. I don’t know how on earth you can love anyone without kindness being present. You don’t have to abandon loyalty to self to be kind. And, part of kindness, part of being kind, is supporting the other person’s right to be who they are safely and happily in life, regardless of your specific role in the person’s life.
The task is to find a way to love the person that is healthy for them and for you. There are times when the healthiest choice is to disengage from them. However, there are times when loving human connections find ways of flourishing, if they are given honest emotional soil from which to grow. Love can cause many beautiful relationships to bloom into beautiful “flowers.” Any angst you may feel at not always being able to choose the “flower” fades over time, if you really loved the person in the first place.