It’s common knowledge that break-ups are never easy. But breaking up with someone you never dated?
Yeah, that shit sucks.
Almost all of us know what it feels like to be stuck in dating limbo. I’m always finding myself in a series of almost relationships; where things start out casually, but then when you start hoping for more, they suddenly pull away.
For around three months, I was casually seeing a guy who I really liked. Things moved quickly–maybe too quickly–but I put it down to being a whirlwind romance.
Within weeks we were warming each other’s beds and Snapchatting all the time; he’d even stay on the phone with me until we both fell asleep. So, I would stay awake until 3am, my body-clock adjusting to the early hours of the morning to be with him.
Then, out of the blue, he stopped replying to my messages, and started avoiding me. I would wake up to an empty phone screen, and my heart would sink.
I felt lost. And I found it hard to turn away from him, because if we stopped seeing each other then that would mean nothing could ever happen.
Until then, there was always something seductive about the what-ifs. I couldn’t shake the romantic fantasies of the two of us that still swarmed my head. I just kept expecting him to show up again.
Because of the blurred lines between casually seeing someone and being in a relationship that come with modern dating, it took me a long time to realise this was a permanent breakup. Since we were never “officially” dating, I didn’t realise when things had ended. Then, when I did, my break-up was almost always treated by others as insignificant.
When I told my friends about it; telling them how much it hurt to not have him in my life anymore, they brushed it off. It was always, “Don’t worry, there are loads more guys on Tinder,” or, “Well, it’s not like you guys were really together or anything.”
I felt defeated; foolish for investing my time and emotions into what we had. I was stuck in purgatory of the unknown–like a flower with the stem cut before it could bloom.
I couldn’t publicly express my pain without fear of judgement. It felt like I had no right to my heartache since things had never been labelled “official.”
The lack of parameters that came with our casual relationship meant that when things ended, there was no closure. The lack of explanation only prolonged the recovery process. I was holding onto the hope that one day it could have led somewhere.
But just like a real break-up, I was hurting.
And that was okay.
Getting over someone you never dated is confusing, and frustrating as hell. But you shouldn’t bottle those feelings up. Treat it like a real break-up and heal as you otherwise would.
The moment I chose not to let others minimise my feelings, I began to move on. It didn’t matter that my relationship wasn’t official–the labels meant shit all.
So my advice to those of you struggling to let go when an almost relationship ends is: let yourself feel.
Acknowledge your feelings and let yourself be sad. It’s okay to express your heartbreak publicly, despite what anyone else tells you. Only you have the power to decide how you feel. If you want to cry, then cry. You’re allowed to mourn for something you only had a taste of.
Maybe that person wasn’t interested in you. But so many others will be. And one day you’ll be ready to meet someone else. Don’t let anyone take away from you your ability to feel things deeply.
You deserve more than the pain they have caused.
You deserve to be more than a late-night pit-stop.
Just remember that you will be okay. You will heal.
And next time, you’ll find someone who encourages you to grow into the best version of yourself.