The one who got away is a myth. In fact, you are more likely to run into a unicorn than get back “the one who got away.” It’s literally the stuff romantic comedies are made of. Why? When a relationship is done, it’s usually done. That isn’t to say that former partners don’t get back together and that extraordinary events don’t happen. But, let’s be honest: if someone is the “one who got away,” he or she is away for good. With Valentine’s Day coming up, that sting can be even worse. However, you need to be realistic. If a relationship is done, it’s done for a reason and no amount of hanging around will make it happen. I know this is harsh, but please stop grieving and start living.
But, why are we obsessed with the notion of “the one who got away”? Is it because every song and romantic comedy is fascinated by this mythical creature? Is it because we, as Americans, root for the underdog? Maybe but, it’s not healthy and we need to stop. Why? It keeps you from meeting “The One.” Living in the past, focusing on what was and could have been, and not learning and moving on will keep you single and on the pursuit of someone who isn’t available. Even worse, this person could use you for their own personal gain and hurt you in the long run. Believe me: this isn’t a risk you want to take and a total waste of your time. In the time you pursue a failing relationship, you could be pursuing actions that will bring you to the right person for you.
Regardless of your faith, whether you believe in God, or any other factor, the right person will come into your life. If you do your part, he or she will come. Don’t ask me how or why. Honestly, I can only tell you that the universe makes that happen. Believe me when I tell you that it will get better and, as long as you do your part, someone better will come along.
I recently read this article on The Bolde and the first sentence resonates completely: “If it was really meant to be, whatever let him away wouldn’t have kept him away.” I’ve seen this firsthand and read about it. The first example is a dorm mom I had my junior year of prep school. I remember the winter night when I was in her office asking for advice: my boyfriend of six months and many states away back home dumped me. I was sixteen and devastated. When I told her this, she told me something that put my mind at ease and still does nearly a decade later: Mr. Right eventually comes along. For her, it took longer. As a young woman, she met a speed skating coach who wanted to marry her. He even went as far as to propose. However, she had young children and declined to marry him because she felt she needed to raise her kids. Fast forward nearly fifty years later and he finds her. I admit that I don’t know the details, but I do know that they did end up getting married and, the last time I saw her on Facebook, they are still happily married. While it took a while, it’s always better than to be with the wrong one. On top of that, I’ve seen countless couples overcome great obstacles to be together after a separation – whether reuniting from a military deployment, missionary work as a Mormon, going to college in different states, or spending time abroad, I’ve heard it all. Let me assure you of this one thing: if it’s meant to be, it works. There’s no question about it.
So, how do you stop obsessing over the mythical “one who got away”?
First, stop fantasizing about “what might have been.” It’s over and there’s no reason to pursue anything – directly or indirectly. Unfriend him on Facebook, delete his number, and either donate or throw away anything he has ever given you. Unless you have children or a business together, do not be friends. If you run into him somewhere, minimize conversation, be civil, and be cordial. But, be realistic: you two are not friends. This isn’t to say that a friendship couldn’t develop years later; sometimes it does. But, now is certainly not the time.
Secondly, date others! If the break up is fresh, focus on yourself for a bit. Personally, I took about four months to really prepare myself to be ready after my last relationship ended. Now, I’m slowly easing back into everything. But, that time off is crucial. But, you shouldn’t take more than three to four months. After a bit of a detox, date others. Go to speed dating events and singles meet ups. Pick up a hobby and start meeting new people. Whether via church, school, a hobby, civic organization, or house of worship, there are plenty of ways to meet new people. If you’re into the bar/club scene, that could work. But, it’s up to you. I’m naturally an introvert, so this is tricky for me. But, guess what? The more people you meet, the more likely you are to meet the right person who thinks you’re awesome. You never know – people have ended up marrying their divorce attorney, the guy who rear ended them, and the guy in the check out line behind them at the grocery store. Love happens every single day and, if you do your part, I’m confident that it will happen to you.
Thirdly, work on yourself. For me, I’m working on getting back in shape and losing thirty pounds that I gained due to a serious illness (and about twenty more I was trying to lose prior), working towards finishing school and starting a dating and relationship coaching business, building up my writing, and spiritual development. For the first time in about eight years, I stepped foot in a church and am getting baptized Sunday. Anytime I have the time and money, I travel.
Recently, I got to attend the Presidential Inauguration and spent a week in New Orleans. At the Baggage Claim in Hartsfield-Jackson Airport on my way home from Washington, DC, I noticed a familiar face at the airport: my ex-boyfriend. I won’t go into details here, that I got blindsided and the relationship had ended. Long story short, I walked confidently past him, didn’t say a word, and got my luggage. I had my hair and make up done and was dressed nicely. While not relaxed from running around for a few days on my trip, I looked nice enough that two TSA agents complimented me. The best part? I was twenty pounds lighter than the last time he saw me and life has been fantastic for a multitude of other reasons. I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t hard to run into someone who broke my heart, but guess what? He literally got to see what he was missing out and his family was in town from abroad. So, they got to see what he was missing out on as well. Pretty cool, isn’t it?
So, what’s the moral of the story? If he wants you, he will find you eventually. Until then, date others, have fun, and live your life. I know that love happens every day and, one day, it will happen to you. I don’t care if you’re fifty pounds overweight, sitting in bed crying, and eating cookie dough because your ex broke your heart, or just turned thirty and haven’t found Mr. Right yet. Put down the cookie dough, go for a walk, and do your part. Remember that you are beautiful and worthy of love. Seriously, you’re awesome – don’t ever put yourself down.
Consider this: I’m grateful for every relationship that ended because it’s helping me on the path to finding the right person. Those relationships that fail are lessons where you learned what you did wrong. Now, I haven’t found him yet, but I know I will eventually. Frankly, I’m only twenty-five and my life isn’t quite where it needs to be. I’ve helped people in my circle – whether at school, church, my waxer, Lyft drivers I meet when I travel, or Lyft passengers at work. Honestly, I’ve even given advice to random people at the grocery store or while getting my nails done. But, there’s no excuse for Mr. Right to not find me when God wants him to. Between social media, human desire, and Google, no one is that hard to find. Don’t worry about your situation either; just stop obsessing and live your life.