Sometimes it’s the “almost relationships” that break you more than anything else. Sometimes it’s the stories that are abandoned mid-sentence that are the toughest to let go of.
Why? It’s the seductive promise of potential. The unwritten future. The lingering what-ifs.
It’s easy to get stuck here, in the mud of wondering what could have been. There was no real beginning, so there was no real end. It’s a purgatory of unanswered questions. It’s a painful abbreviation of something like love that never had a chance to grow into more.
There is a way out of this purgatory, though, and it involves a conscious effort to release the “what-ifs” and move forward with purpose.
Here are a few ways to get over someone you never dated. You don’t have to do all of them at once, but the more you do, the more successful you will be at moving on.
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Stop Blaming It on Bad Timing
Blaming bad timing can be alluring because it means that perhaps in the future, there will be good timing and you two can finally be together! This feels like a surmountable hurdle, one worth waiting for, and that’s why it can keep you stuck.
The hard pill to swallow here is that in almost all cases, “bad timing” really just a symptom of incompatibility and/or mismatched priorities.
The more-than-likely truth is that “bad timing” was masking other more uncomfortable realities like commitment issues, emotional unavailability, or a just-not-that-into-you situation. True, bad timing is possible, but it’s generally a tangible obstacle that is resolved over time like temporary long distance or a very recent breakup. When bad timing is the real reason, it has a clear cause and does not persist endlessly.
Trust that the fact that you’re not with this person is enough information for you to know it wasn’t right. If it were right, you’d be together. So the faster you can accept that bad timing was very likely not the reason you’re not with this person, the more easily you will be close this chapter and move on.
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Stop Checking In On Them (and Remove Their Access to You)
“But he still watches my Instagram story”…
“But she still texts me sometimes”…
“But they posted ____ so it must mean ____” …
Nope. No more buts. These ways of casually keeping in touch with this person that you’re still not over are keeping you stuck in the mire of false hope. Checking in on them and making assumptions about what their life is like now is slowing down your moving-on process. Allowing them to contact you or check in on your life at their convenience is keeping you from being able to fully heal and move on. It’s like tearing the scab off a wound over and over. If you know they are watching your story, it’s influencing what you post and it’s keeping you tied to them.
When you have/had feelings for someone, it’s really hard to move forward when some part of you is still clinging onto what they’re thinking about you.
There is wisdom in the notion “out of sight out of mind”. Do yourself the favor of taking this person out of your sight for a while so that you can heal. Unfollow or block them so you aren’t tempted to check up on them, or wonder if they’re checking up on you. Blocking isn’t mean, it’s self-love and self-preservation. It doesn’t have to be this way forever, only until you can get to a point where you truly feel like you’ve moved on.
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Let Yourself Be Sad
This sounds obvious, but it should not be overlooked. Sometimes a reason that you have a hard time getting over someone that you never really dated is because you don’t give yourself permission to grieve them. You think, well we never dated so it would be pathetic to be really sad over it, right? Not true.
People that we never “date” can still have a significant effect on us. You don’t need a label or a long time to develop strong feelings for someone.
Gaslighting yourself into not feeling sad or lonely about this person is detrimental to your emotional health and only slows down your healing. So let yourself be upset. Grieve the loss of this person as a romantic prospect, whether you knew them for 2 months or 2 years. Give yourself permission to feel however you are feeling, and eventually the emotions will lose their charge and you’ll be one step closer to emotional freedom over this person.
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Make an Honest List of What You Liked and Disliked About Them
This accomplishes a couple of important things. First, by listing the good qualities, you can begin to understand what drew you to this person. In doing so, you’ll likely realize that these qualities are not unique to this one person. They are not the last person on Earth that you can have silly inside jokes with, or who is willing to take last-minute trips with you, or who inspires you. You can and will find these qualities in someone else, and naming them helps you get better at finding them in people in the future!
Second, listing what you disliked, or what didn’t work with this person helps to ground you back into reality. It helps you check yourself on who this person actually was, versus what you were projecting onto them.
You might realize that you were a lot less compatible than you thought. Maybe their mediocre communication bothered you. Maybe you didn’t like how they would rarely make time for you. Maybe the fact that they could never make a decision frustrated you. It helps to get this all out on paper, so you don’t trick yourself looking back on “what-could-have-been” with rose-colored lenses. Reminding yourself of reality is a sobering but very effective way to move on.
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One last thing, remember that there is no “right” timeline for healing. You can take as long as you need to get over someone. Sometimes it takes a long time, maybe longer than makes logical sense to you. Sometimes it feels really traumatic. That’s okay. Putting your heart on the line and developing feelings is never a shameful act. Getting over anyone, even an “almost relationship”, is tough. But trust that you’ll come out the other side. Trust that you will love again.
This post was previously published on Hello, Love and is republished here with permission from the author.
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