So it’s happened; somehow, on this huge campus, you managed to find someone that you want to spend a little time with. You get to know them better, spend some time talking to them, cultivate a connection, and maybe even get a little physical. And then it ends. Whether it’s been a few weeks or a few months, it’s over. Maybe the timing wasn’t right. Maybe the two of you were looking for different things. Maybe one of you just wasn’t ready for a commitment. Whatever the reason, it stinks when things don’t go the way you were hoping they’d go.
One of the most disappointing aspects of unrequited love is the missed opportunity. There’s a feeling of wasted potential, and you can’t help but think off all of the things that could have been had you both been in the right place at the right time. There’s also the matter of finding someone else; you’ve spent all this time and energy getting to know someone, and now you have to go out and find a completely different person and start all over. It’s exhausting sometimes.
The funny thing about college is that there’s simultaneously so much pressure to find a meaningful relationship while not getting tied down. If you date someone for too long, you’re missing out on all the opportunities college has to offer. If you don’t have at least one meaningful relationship during your time here, you’re emotionally stunted. It’s truly a lose-lose scenario, and sometimes it feels like it’s impossible to handle your feelings “correctly.” You don’t want to be the “crazy girl” who gets too attached, but you can’t be too aloof or else people will lose interest. Dating in college is like a balancing act; be independent, but don’t be cold. Be fun, but not loose. Be available, but not too available.
Because of this, it’s easy to blame yourself when things end. It’s easy to examine every interaction and wonder what you could have done differently to make the other person stay. But sometimes it’s no one’s fault. Sometimes things just happen, and that’s almost harder to accept than the idea that One Big Event changed the course of your budding relationship. And when things end, when they’re really over, you have to learn to walk away instead of trying to pick up the pieces of what could have been. All of these things sound simple enough, but when you’ve opened yourself up to the possibilities of a future with someone, it can be impossibly hard to let them go.
It’s okay to be upset when things don’t work out. It’s okay to have emotions. It’s okay to blast Adele and cry in your car. Even if you play it cool when you see that person in class or at a party, you’re not required to immediately forget what happened. Never let someone tell you to “get over it” or “just forget it.” Your feelings are your own, and no one has a right to tell you how to deal with heartbreak. If something mattered to you, even just a little bit, it was important. Forgive yourself for being sad and take some time to take care of yourself. Whether it’s a movie night with the girls, taking a walk through Zilker, or writing all your feelings out on paper, give yourself the tools to heal.
Most importantly, you can’t be afraid to open yourself up again. It’s likely you’re going to meet a lot of people during your time here, and not every crush is going to lead to something that lasts. It’s okay to have crushes. It’s okay to try again and hope for the best, even if you don’t know how things are going to turn out. Every relationship you experience, romantic or platonic, has something to teach you about life. Take these experiences and run with them, good or bad, and let them help you along the way rather than hinder you. True, you may have been hurt before; you may have been hurt a dozen times. But there’s no way of knowing what new experiences will bring and what new people will teach you.
It may seem like the engagement announcements keep rolling out, and that might give you some kind of crazy anxiety. It’s wonderful that there are people who have found their soul mates in college (or even before), but that doesn’t mean that you’re required to leave college having found a spouse. There’s still so much time to explore and discover and, when the time is right, things are going to fall into place. It’s important to remember that the most meaningful relationship you should have in college is with yourself. This is a time to figure out who you are and who you want to be; just remember that other people are doing the exact same thing. Sometimes two people can grow together, and sometimes you’re just not in the right place. Forgive them for that. Move on. Focus on yourself and your happiness. Treat yourself with kindness and respect and always stay open to new opportunities.
You’re going to be okay. I promise.