“Just because you have a past with someone, doesn’t mean you should have a future with them.”
~ Robert Tew
A Three-prong Approach
Framework for the Past
“The one who got away” is a paradigm that exists out of a mentality associated with the past. One important gift our past gives is guidance for the future.
Think about the purpose the relationship served in your life.
- Did it give you clarity about who you are or what you truly want in a relationship?
- What are the lessons afforded to you as part of your experience?
- Did it teach you about love, relational skills, communication skills, self-assertiveness, appreciation, commitment, or self-love?
Even though your former partner may seem like the “one” who got away, some people find that they get one step closer to finding their ideal partner with each relationship they become involved. Through the process, they learn more about themselves and what they need and want out of a relationship.
It’s wise not to stay too long in thinking about lessons from the past. As you focus too much on past thinking, you risk developing a sense of regret, which may hold you back from seeing the opportunities of the present.
A good framework to combat rumination of the past is the ironic acknowledgement that the future is uncertain.
You can’t be certain that the old relationship with the “one” who got away would have turned out as you expected. You won’t know if the positive aspects you identified in your former partner or former relationship will remain intact many years down the road.
People change, relationships change. Sometimes it’s the very changes that dissolve a relationship. There is no prediction to what the future holds. Often times people marry their dream partner, only to find themselves at odds with one another years later.
Framework for the Present
Have faith. There is more than one person on the planet that could be your soulmate. Trust that you are lovable and that you will find someone who loves you and sees you for all the wonderful qualities that you possess.
Understand that although it’s painful to think that you might’ve let the “one” slip away, he/she slipped away for a reason.
Every relationship that we encounter at any given time is intended for us for a purpose.
Sometimes the gift of a relationship is not apparent until time passes and the initial heartache subsides. Then you’ll realize that the heartache of a lost relationship was actually a gift in disguise.
A quote from Deepak Chopra states:
“Whatever relationship you have attracted in your life at this moment, are precisely the ones you need in your life at this moment. There is a hidden meaning behind all events, and this hidden meaning is serving your own evolution.”
Framework for the Future
Understand that a good relationship that’s sustainable across time and circumstance requires hard work. Willing partners committed to working on the relationship over time will reap the benefits of a deeply fulfilling connection to their partner, evolving their relationship into something more beautiful than what they started.
This understanding brings hope that even if your current or next partner seems not to compare to the endearing qualities of the “one” that got away, commitment to working on the relationship itself may actually exceed your expectations and initial comparison. Love is created over time.
Julie Chin, LMFT – www.themindfullife.net
A good way to look at this is that if you had something good once before, you can have it again.
It is all a matter of attitude. Work on yourself and think about the kind of person you want to attract.
- What were the things about him that you really liked and that you would look for in someone new?
- What were the things that didn’t work in the relationship and how can you avoid repeating the same patterns?
- What is it about him that makes you think he is the one that got away? What happened?
- Was it the timing of the relationship?
- Maybe you didn’t want the same things or have congruent goals at the time you were together.
- Was it too soon to settle down?
If this is the case, then honor your decision and the way you felt at the time.
Don’t second guess yourself. You made the decision to move on from that relationship for a reason. We often gloss over things from a past relationship because we don’t feel hopeful about a future one.
If you are in a good place, you will attract people that are in a good place. Grieve what you feel that you have lost with the one that got away; wish him well and believe with confidence that someone better will absolutely come your way.
Take inventory every six months or so and check in with yourself. Ask yourself how you are feeling and if you are satisfied with where you are in life. Do you like your job? Are you fulfilled as a person? Remember that a relationship should complement you and add value to your life. It should not be the one thing that will make or break your happiness.
Be mindful not accommodate him by changing your needs and what you are doing in your life. For example, don’t quit college because he wants you to have a baby despite that you are not ready. Some things are easier to compromise than others. Do not compromise so much that you lose yourself and change your trajectory to please him or others. Don’t regret putting your needs first.
Be positive and stay engaged with positive people.
Don’t be overly critical of someone new because he is not exactly like the one that got away. Visualize yourself meeting someone who is your match and is as great if not better than the one that got away. Even if a date doesn’t work out, check your attitude.
If your feeling negative about yourself, others can sense it. If you are negative, that is the type of person you will more likely attract. Therefore it is important to stay positive and work on your self-esteem. The more you radiate with happiness and good energy, the more likely you are to attract the same kind of people.
Be open to meeting new people with different interests than yours.
Don’t be attached to the outcome and learn to go with the flow. Don’t look for “that” relationship (like the one that got away) in every guy you meet. Be easy and relaxed, yet ready to have new experiences and to create new memories. You can glance back once in a while at the memory of the one that got away, but don’t linger too long or you will forget to look forward and possibly miss a great opportunity. Stay in the present and enjoy the moment.
Ileana Hinojosa, MLA, LMFT – www.themindfullife.net
The only time I personally ever characterized a failed relationship as “the one that got away” was with I man I met in graduate school.
He didn’t leave me; I left him. He was a great guy, but not cool enough for me at that immature time in my life. Looking back, which I did a lot, I thought about how stupid I was to not be able to appreciate his many great qualities. He really had a lot of them.
I think about the one who got away as an exercise in looking backwards.
You can’t really know that he was the one that got away until he’s gone. Then you can look back at what happened, probably with regret as I did.
I beat myself up about this relationship for a while. But then I realized that I couldn’t be any more mature than I was. I think it’s mostly true that we all do the best that we can in life. Looking back, that might not look very good, but if you knew then what you know now, you would have made different choices.
That “failed” relationship is part of what has contributed to who I am today.
Because I regretted my decision so much, I really thought about it and tried to learn from it. You only get so many great guy opportunities in life and I didn’t want to blow it again!
Nobody “gets away”
Either the relationship didn’t have enough juice to sustain itself, they leave you or you leave them. I think getting over it is a process of grieving if it was a big loss and then examining it to learn something from it.
All of our relationships have the potential to teach us something about ourselves.
Even if you look back and decide that the guy was a big loser, you can try to figure out why you chose him in the first place. You can look at what part you played in both the creation of the relationship and its demise. This isn’t about beating yourself up (you did the best you could); it’s about learning enough to not repeat the same mistakes. It’s about learning to make better choices and learning how to better manage yourself in the next relationship.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
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