Listen Up: What It’s Like Getting Over Someone You Never Dated

It seems as if 21st-century relationships have lost their luster. Instead of dating, we’re “talking”; instead of dinner and a movie, it’s Netflix and chill; instead of breaking up, we’re ghosting each other. It’s a tricky playing field to navigate. With this relaxed approach to dating our generation has, we’ve run into a new problem: “almost” relationships. They’re just as messy, confusing and difficult to get over as a regular relationship, but never reach the official status. Sound familiar? 

In order to talk about how to get over an almost-lover, I guess a bit of context is necessary. In my junior year of high school, there was this super-cute boy that I shared a class with. We hit it off really quickly, and in all honesty, we were a really good match. We flirted, hung out and did a lot of the things normal boyfriends and girlfriends do – just without the label. 

He made mistakes and he had his flaws, but I put him on a pedestal nonetheless and that was my biggest mistake. I shortly found myself making excuses for him and the things he did because I wanted it to work out so badly. In retrospect, I was wearing the rosiest pair of glasses when I was with him.

After a year, we fizzled out and it absolutely crushed me. I spent a lot of time during my senior year thinking about what I had done, why he never made it official with me, what it would’ve been like if it had worked out —the list goes on. The number of times I cried the following year would have been enough to have me cast in a Nicholas Sparks movie. My mom and my friends truly deserve an award for being there for me then. 

When I moved away for college, I (somehow) only remembered he existed when he popped up on my Instagram feed. I was feeling good again, and more importantly, I was feeling like myself again – the version of myself that wasn’t wrapped around this boy’s finger. But that’s the thing: it’s easy to say you’re over someone when they’re not beside you every day. It’s a whole separate challenge when they’re standing right in front of you. 

The two of us have had these sporadic run-ins with each other since we graduated. Sometimes it’s at the movies, other times on rivalry gamedays, with the most recent encounter being a few weeks ago at a local bar. He saw me and made his way over to me as confident as ever, talked with me for a little bit, and was suggestive with me like the natural-born flirt he was. 

As we stood there face-to-face, I realized for the first time that I felt nothing towards him. I wasn’t hurt anymore, and I wasn’t in love with him anymore either. As he laid out all his moves that I was all too familiar with, I came to the conclusion that I’d actually felt this way for a while now, I just hadn’t stopped to think about it. 

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel good to have the boy I had pined over in high school trying his hardest to take me home now. I shared the experience with one of my oldest friends, one who had lived the entire saga with me, and she just laughed a little, saying, “He’s always had a soft spot for you.” I smiled along, thinking how nice it was to learn my Achilles’ heel had finally healed itself. 

I’d realized that the reason it took me an entire year to get over someone I never dated was because I chose to see him only in the way I wanted to, not the way he actually was. I blurred his flaws, erased his mistakes, and swept our issues under the rug. It wasn’t until after I had taken off those rose-colored glasses that I saw the reality of the situation. It turns out that he wasn’t as perfect as my imagination made him out to be, not even close.  

So, getting over a guy you never dated? It’s sometimes just as hard as if you actually dated him. It hurts like hell. But other times, all it takes is a little change in perspective. 

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