Do you know the one thing that hurts worse than the one that got away? The one you never had in the first place. It’s an undeniable type of pain that has the power to tear your soul apart – if you let it. We’ve all been there, at least once – and if it hasn’t happened to you yet, no need to feel left out. It’ll happen eventually.
In some cases, this is the woman who you fell madly in love with, but you never told her. She might be your straight friend you fell for, who adamantly confirmed that – yep, she’s totally straight. She might even be the woman you spoke to at the book store one time and then never saw her again. There are a million “almosts”, and some people experience many in a lifetime.
They hurt. Pretty bad sometimes.
But there are actually some pretty good reasons for this seemingly-indescribable pain. We often can’t see why it hurts so bad in the middle of the feelings, so we think that we’ve lost our minds. Never fear – KitschMix would like to clear up some of the confusion.
1. It hurts because we never get the closure we need.
Humans are, by nature, curious creatures. We have a million questions, at all times, and we need to know what they are. It’s why cliffhanger TV episodes are so popular – they ensure that the viewer will tune in the next week to see how it ends. It’s probably the only reason movie sequels exist. And you better believe it’s part of why we get to know other people in the first place.
Most of the time, when an “official” relationship ends, the partners get closure. Maybe they don’t get every answer they want, but generally, they get enough to help push them over the relationship. They were in it, too, so they know what went wrong. (At least, if they were paying attention to one another they do.)
But when there isn’t actually a relationship, there are very few answers. We are left to wonder what might have been if things had just been a little bit different, and we rely on our sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) to tell us that it would have been incredible, because there’s nothing to prove it wouldn’t have been.
2. It hurts because we form expectations.
When you’re talking to someone in any type of romantic connotation, there are certain expectations that arise in our minds. We know that this person doesn’t owe us anything, but if things seem to be going well, we anticipate certain benefits.
This is what leads to the widely-popular “Nice Guy Syndrome”, where the person who felt they had earned the relationship is shot down by the person who simply wasn’t interested. As much as The Friend Zone hurts, it’s a quiet little reminder that just because you want something doesn’t mean you get it.
Life isn’t always fair, and there’s no such thing as “earning” someone’s love. All you can do is value yourself enough to find someone who values your efforts, too – but there are never any promises or guarantees.
3. It hurts because there’s unassigned blame.
If you don’t have any questions, the two most common assumptions are that it was all my fault or it was all your fault. Often, people forget that the third option is a lot more common: it was our fault.
When you’re in a relationship, there are opportunities to assign the blame to one partner or the other. While ideally this means that you fess up to your own mistakes (and not point fingers at one another), there’s no chance to even discuss it when you’re not actually dating.
Instead of a big fight, one day she’ll just disappear, or you’ll see her with someone else – and at that point it would sort of be creepy to pursue the answers. So you sit and you blame yourself for everything, or you blame her for everything. You don’t even know her side of the story but you assume you do.
4. It hurts because your friends can’t automatically tell something’s changed.
When you’re in a relationship, you vent about the things that bug you about her, so they can sort of sense when things are going bad, and then when you break up, they already sort of sensed something was coming, so they know what not to bring up.
But when you’re not actually dating this girl, they might not even know her name. They probably know limited details about her, and they could bring up stuff that reminds you of her without even knowing – bringing the pain back to the surface.
Your friends don’t always know every detail – so they can hurt you on accident.
5. It hurts because you never know what could have been.
In a relationship, you have the chance to experience the highs and lows. You may have some nostalgia, but you can also remember the bad times – and you know why it didn’t work out.
With your almost-relationship, you’ll only be able to speculate. Your imagination can be a crazy place sometimes, coming up with ideas that don’t make a bit of sense but you can’t seem to shake them.
Because you’ll never know, you’ll always wonder – and you’ll always miss her.