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.