We fall in love because we long to escape from ourselves with someone as ideal as we are corrupt. But what if such a being were one day to turn around and love us back? We can only be shocked. How could they be as divine as we had hoped when they have the bad taste to approve of someone like us? If in order to love we must believe that beloved surpasses us in some way, does not a cruel paradox emerge when we witness this love returned?
If s/he really is so wonderful, how could s/he love someone like me?”
Unrequited love may be painful, but it is safety painful, because it does not involved inflicting damage on anyone but oneself, a private pain that is as bittersweet as it is self-induced. But as soon as love is reciprocated, one must be prepared to give up the passivity of simply being hurt to take on the responsibility of perpetrating hurt oneself.
(From “On Love”, chapter Marxism by Alain de Botton)