The One That Got Away

Do you ever get over your first love?  How do you move on when you still love someone but either they don’t love you back or life seems to keep you apart?  These are questions I ponder sometimes.  I get asked all sorts of questions in my office.  Luckily I’m not a black and white thinker, because most of the questions I get asked don’t have black and white answers.  Do I believe that some people go to their grave loving someone they couldn’t have?  Yes.  Do I believe some people are able to move on and get over the one that got away?  Yes.

It is hard for me to tell a student that yes, eventually they will move on.  The fact is that some people do NOT move on.  Some people never get over someone from their past.  I unfortunately don’t have a crystal ball and can’t tell if they are going to find someone better than their first love who has broken up with them.  I believe it does happen to most people that they move on and find someone else who they love even more than the one they thought got away.  However, not everyone gets married in this life and not everyone marries someone they are head over heels in love with.  This leaves the door open to fantasize about the one you did love.

You would think that if someone has had the experience of being in love they wouldn’t settle for something less.  I find this isn’t always true.  Some people feel they will never find someone better than that first one.  They settle in the next relationship because they feel they have no choice.  Their true love either can’t or won’t be with them.  Instead of being alone, they stay in a relationship they aren’t satisfied in and continue to fantasize about the one that got away.  It is easy for you to romanticize a relationship you are no longer in.  You can imagine how that person would fulfill your longings more than the person you are currently with.  It is easy to block out some of the bad stuff and only focus on what you miss about a person.  You don’t have to go through the daily stresses or have a build up of petty arguments to help your rose colored glasses fall off.  In other people’s cases, they fell in love with someone but the timing or other things in life kept them apart.  Again, it is easy for someone to romanticize what this relationship could have been.  You will never know what reality would’ve brought you in that relationship.  That makes it easy to fantasize about all the great things you are missing out on because life has kept you from this person who you believe was supposed to be with you.

I think this is why a lot of people hold onto thoughts of people from the past.  In my opinion, it is better to be alone than in a bad relationship.  If you truly did love this other person, than wait until you find someone who makes you feel that way again.  People who stay in unsatisfying relationships usually end up cheating or making it worse by taking out their resentment on each other.  In any case, it won’t bring back the one you are still fantasizing about.  It keeps you locked into the past and this is why some people never move on.

Here are the facts as I see them.  Life is short and it isn’t fair.  You aren’t going to always get what you want.  I also know some people really get the shaft in this life.  Sometimes the one that got away didn’t just move or date someone else.  Sometimes that person dies.  A good friend of mine’s fiance died in a car accident a few months before their wedding.  I remember her thinking at the time that it took her so long to find him and now he was gone.  I know she thought, “what if there isn’t anyone else out there for me”?  What could I say?  I couldn’t assure her that she would definitely meet someone else that she would love as much as she loved him.  I also couldn’t tell her that she definitely wouldn’t either.  I remember her stating at one point that she was afraid she would settle for someone and always be thinking about how things would’ve worked out with her fiance.  She made a pact with herself that she would wait until she found someone she wasn’t going to constantly compare her fiance to.  She grieved his loss for a long time, but then realized that life does go on.  It isn’t easy and it isn’t always fun, but it just keeps moving along whether you want it to or not.  She did eventually meet someone, got married and has kids.  I’m thankful that she waited because it wouldn’t be fair for her current husband to live with a ghost from the past.

Some people may be saying, “It’s easier to move on when someone has died.  It’s not so easy when the person you love is still walking around and isn’t with you”.  I agree, this can be harder to get past, but it isn’t impossible.  I don’t think you can hold onto the past and move towards the future at the same time.  I truly think if this person was meant to be with you, then it will work out at some point in the future.  You can choose to wait for that time or you can choose to take some control and look for other possibilities in the meantime.  My suggestion is to not settle for someone in the meantime because of the dangers I mentioned above.  It makes it easier to hold onto the fantasy and harder to actually move on.

It does take time to get over someone.  You shouldn’t push yourself to move on too fast.  However, I think it is healthy to eventually let go of fantasies of someone who has chosen or isn’t able to be with you.  Life is full of choices.  I truly believe it is harder to get over some people than others.  However, I also truly believe we have a choice over what we want to focus our thoughts on.  It’s true that you will have moments when this person comes into your thoughts out of nowhere.  You may think about what could have been for a few minutes, but then I think you should try to refocus your thoughts on what you’ve been given.  I always think it is better to be thankful for what you have than to think about what you don’t.  Also, remember that we have a lot of room in our hearts.  You don’t have to forget about one person to make room for another.  Just also remember that the one that is currently in your life is the one who should get most of your focus.  If you want a relationship to work, you have to put that person first.  Your relationship is doomed if your partner is constantly competing with a ghost from the past.  Do your best to let go of the one that got away and focus on the one who is to come or the one who has chosen to be part of your life already.

13 comments on “The One That Got Away

    • Thanks so much for your comment. This is a subject I ponder often. I know some people never get over certain people, but I believe that we have some control over how much energy we give another person. Time helps, but you have to work with time by trying to refocus your thoughts. I”m glad you liked the post. I look forward to checking out your blog.

    • Thanks, I’m glad it helped. I could have used this post a few times in my life as well…it is funny how pain from the past can give a person so much wisdom. I’ve been reading your blog and noticing your ups and downs. That is natural, just keep doing what your doing to keep moving forward even if you have to take a couple steps back some days. Thanks for continuing to read my posts, I really appreciate it.

  1. Pingback: What is a relationship? and How do you love? | richardo's daily creative lifestyle in nyc

  2. Brilliant post – this is a subject that I often think about, seeing as how I tend to live in the past and see it through rose colored spectacles. Moving on is hard, but it is possible. Thank you for giving me the pleasure of reading this.

    • Thanks so much for your comment! I really appreciate your feedback and kind words. I wish you luck in being able to move on this year!!

  3. This hits home deeply. I often would question this for quite some time. I was with my first love all through out highschool and my freshman year of college. The changing of times happened.. and we were no longer at the same point in our lives. I had to break It off with her and it hurt immensely. For years even after finding someone new I would still think of her. I thought I was being unfair, I never acted on it and have was very happy with my current love. I came to terms with everything and realized there are different types of love and it was my decision to end things. I also realized it is not bad to still care for that first love. Sure I don’t think about her as much anymore but when I do it is not a bad thing. I met someone who is in the same point of her life as I am and I could not be happier! I love your blog! Very touching.

    • Thanks so much for your comment Brittany! I know a lot of people who have been though this experience. I’m glad you shared that you can be happy now and still care for someone from your past. Those people usually shape us in ways that we can never forget even if they aren’t meant to be with us in the future. Thanks for sharing. I really appreciate it and thanks for reading!!

  4. Man this is great. It’s totally my life story. I think in my case I absolutely settled but luckily I have a best friend who grew up in a circumstance like me and ended up settling. Shes single now but it’s our favorite topic. I hate to say it but I’ve actually turned it into a romantic game in my life. This fantasy and it motivates me to do better in life while I await the future. Sounds crazy but im a believer in fate and everyone comes into your life for a reason.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for your comment! I totally agree that people do come into your life for a reason. Thanks for reading! Good luck in the future!!

  5. I really liked this article. It gave my situation a little bit more perspective. A female friend and myself were very attracted to one another. The only problem was that I was engaged and getting into a marriage that I was pretty sure was going to fail. Foolishly, I went through with it because I was scared to say anything, and low and behold, the marriage failed because my heart just wasn’t in it. My female friend now sees me as unsure as to what I want, and does not want to date me at this time or probably ever. We are still friends, but sadly that might be the most of it. I care for her so deeply, but can tell that she doesn’t it to go any further. I get very sad when I think about what could have been. I know I need to move on, but it’s very hard. We still text all the time, and I have aspirations that maybe it can work, but reality hits me hard sometimes, and I get very depressed about the whole thing. Your advice has been helpful. Have you any more good advice. Thanks again.

    • Thanks for sharing your story. It can be very hard to let go of someone when you have true feelings for them. I would give her some time and see if she is willing to come around once she sees you aren’t getting serious with anyone else. Trust me, you’ll know if too much time goes by and you feel like you just need to move on. Also keep your eyes open for other available women out there…you never know if someone else could hit you in that certain way. It is good to keep your options open, but also take time to see where this may go as well. If your heart is with her, than other women won’t really hit you. It doesn’t hurt to look though…I hope that makes sense to you. Good luck!!

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