“Just because you have a past with someone, doesn’t mean you should have a future with them.”
~ Robert Tew
Three thoughts of advice come to mind when thinking about “the one that got away”.
First is remembering the universe has your back! If they aren’t still around, it’s likely for a reason.
That reason may not be obvious right now, but have trust that it will all make sense at some point down the road. Sometimes it takes time and a gaining of perspective to understand why something happened.
Often the feeling of holding on is because we want to stay in a fantasy of how something was versus how it actually was.
Second, if you’re obsessing or thinking too much about an old flame, then you’re not living in the present moment.
You’re stuck in the past. You’re focusing on someone that isn’t currently loving you, supporting you, and lifting you up. Take this time to be present and focus on what you need right now to lift you up, to feel connected, and to care for yourself.
Lastly, when we are stuck in history, ruminating about a former lover, then we aren’t MAKING SPACE for that someone new!
Try and reframe your outlook and have a sense of knowing… that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Letting them be in the past is creating new space for that imperfectly perfect someone to come in to your life. At. The. Perfect. Time.
Trust your intuition. Trust the Universe has your back!
Joanna Hakimi, LMFT – www.mindfulsolutionsllc.com/joanna-hakimi
The unfortunate cost of opening our heart is the potential for heartbreak; yet we just can’t stop ourselves!
We have an evolutionary desire for social bonding. Attachment to a romantic partner is in our biochemical makeup, so it’s only natural to feel lost when someone we love leaves our life.
When we think of the one that got away we circle around many emotions that we just can’t seem to ‘get over’; sadness, despair, emptiness to name a few.
As you pour another glass of 2014 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvigon and watch Chocolat’ for the third time, because Johnny Depp, chocolate, and pairing a good bottle of wine are still less expensive than therapy; remember we can make room for these feeling until they eventually pass.
After all, it’s not your fault you are feeling this way blame Oxytocin.
Oxytocin, the ‘love hormone’ suppresses the stress hormone cortisol and heightens connection to others. To add salt to the wound, females usually have higher levels than men.
In a breakup, especially one where we remain emotionally attached but physically disconnected, we can have a dramatic drop in oxytocin. We can hit emotional ‘rock bottom’ hard.
We can help ourselves to heal this disconnection by first honoring our desire for connection.
- Connect to your emotions by writing a letter to him without giving it to him this will help you process your emotions.
- Connect to nature by taking a walk in outside and engage your senses: Name 5 things you see, smell, touch.
- Connect to your body by booking a therapeutic massage, reiki session, mindful mediation, or working out. These activities are known to increase endorphins, which are natural mood-boosters!
At a certain point pining for the one that got away becomes a sort of ‘brain-lock’ where we get stuck in the cycle of dancing with partners like ‘what-if’ and the ‘could’ve been’.
Give yourself permission to grieve the loss and challenge yourself to do some cognitive reframing.
Three important questions to ask yourself:
- Could how I feel be less about them and more about my fears? of the future (i.e. fear of the future or unknown, projecting loneliness, difficulty with rejection, or feeding the storyline that you are not ‘good enough’ etc.)?
- Are we holding on to an ideal that sets other relationships up to fail (i.e. only seeing the ‘good’, romanticizing love unrequited, unreal expectations of self or partners)?
- What have you learned about yourself though this experience (i.e. resiliency, values, needs/wants)?
We can’t change the past but we can shape how we feel moving forward.
How about radical acceptance?
Because it has the word ‘accept’ in it many times my clients will reject the term right off the bat. However, radical acceptance is about accepting life on life’s terms. If we resist the change around us, we remain a prisoner to it.
Radical acceptance does not mean we ‘like’ what has happened.
It means making room for those difficult feels with the understanding that things end and loss happens as a part of life; growth happens when we stop fighting against it.
You deserve a partnership built on mutual love, trust, and respect.
His absence is an opportunity to explore a path of self-discovery; whether he returns or not you will be better for investing in yourself.
Dana Hall, LCPC, MA, TF-CBT – www.danahalltherapy.com
This is a difficult thing to do and we have all been there.
Most of the time it is a case of us making them into something they are not. For instance, they ask you your opinions in the beginning and then they begin to tell you your opinion.
You keep looking for the person you fell in love with, when, actually seeing the person for who they are, is seeing them for the person that gives you your opinion. That is just a very basic example although we do it with people all the time.
The thing is, the more we are excited about a guy, the more we dismiss and only look at the good parts.
We all have good and bad. Seeing their bad does not make them or you a bad person, it just helps you assess the relationship more realistically as to how it would merge with your life.
Sometimes the “one that got away” is one that we made really bad choices and they did get away.
Feel that consequence but act on the experience. You see how whatever you did affected them, don’t make that same mistake in future relationships. Look forward, not back.
Sometimes you have a crush on someone that doesn’t feel the same way. It hurts, no doubt.
Allow yourself time to grieve the lost of what you wanted.
Do not spend time with this person since it will only lead to tortured feelings. Once you have gotten on to your next love, then seeing them is not so painful.
Anytime you invest yourself in someone and you become awakened by a reality you did not hope, wish or plan, you grieve. It is a loss of something/someone that will never happen, gone forever. It is a death of sorts and so, you grieve.
Let yourself grieve but do not allow yourself to stay there.
Returning to your friends, family and work as a single person is a now different role. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t “want” to do(not something that would harm you, just social activities to get you out of your head), but doing them is what can help get you out of the funk. So, try, even when you don’t want to do so.
Allow this role to grow and define you as you, and not an influence.
Then when you do find another, you will be stronger and more confident.
Evaluate the situation, grieve the loss, redefine you, grow and focus on the future. You got this!
Katherine Woodworth, LPC, CRC – www.fairwaycounseling.com
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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