This is my third article in the series. The first one was very general. At that time, I did not know that the series would get popular and I will be asked to continue with it. The second article was on divorce. This article is about getting over a relationship that never quite existed (to the other person).
Times have changed. Relationships are no longer well defined. People have also become more willing to explore without any commitment (not judging). When exactly does a relationship starts?
When one person says I love you and the other one reciprocates?
Texting all day and talking through the night?
The moment a physical involvement begins?
I have had friends who have got to know a man through a matrimonial website, talked over the phone, met maybe a couple of times and got emotionally attached. One fine day, the person just leaves and they have no idea what they did wrong. In dating terms it is called “ghosting”. (I don’t think there is any term for it in Indian arranged marriage set-ups. I have written more on dating in this article).
Then there are women who get into a fling or a short-term relationship. Except that they did not know that it would be short term. They were probably looking for something serious. They just realized after getting dumped the other person was not serious.
The women in the above scenarios feel heart-broken and depressed. The man may not feel anything because he never made a commitment in the first place. Was it really a relationship? Who gets to decide that? But does it really matter? The fact is someone got hurt. When you feel hurt and sad, nothing else matters much.
Such non-relationships should be easy to get over, right? But trust me they are not. There are some unique aspects to it that are painful. If you tell someone about it, here is what you are told:
It was not even a relationship! Doesn’t count! Get over it!
How could you be so stupid to fall for it in the first place!
While you are already dealing with the loss of not having someone with you anymore (no matter how brief it was), you also have to deal with your feelings being invalidated, by the guy himself, and probably those around you.
At least when a person gets divorced, or breaks up from a long-term declared relationship, they get some empathy. You get none! You feel a certain sense of shame for being so non-existent. Your friends secretly think you are weak and stupid. The best they can say is ‘forget him, not worth it.’ You did not gain any long-term benefits of a relationship, yet you got a very real sense of pain and loss? Not fair!
Somehow Bollywood has always romanticized unrequited love.
“Ek tarfa pyar ki taqat hi kuch aur hoti hai … auron ke rishton ki tarah yeh do logon mein nahi bat’ti … sirf mera haq hai ispe” – Dialogue from Aye dil hai mushkil. There was a beautiful song in the movie, also the title track which was all about being in love with someone who does not reciprocate. There are millions of other examples.
Yesterday, I watched a video of Matthew Hussey that made me smile. A lot of us try to hold on to the idea of someone, after they have left. Something to fill the void.
But think about this. There is someone of the opposite gender who you may find interesting. But they seem too hung up on someone from their past. Would you want to date them? Even if you try you will feel frustrated. Do you really want to become that person?
There is nothing attractive about “unrequited love”! Human beings have the ability to adapt! You become unattractive the moment you show that you have no ability to move on and you are stuck in the past! Even if you meet any decent potential partners, they would not prefer to have anything long term with you.
You don’t have to be ashamed of anything. You tried. It did not work. People who try eventually succeed. If you are looking for a serious relationship, you will probably find it. You are closer to finding it that most people, as you are trying for it.
I remember a girl who kept saying that a guy she met once who had shown a lot of interest in her, and suddenly disappeared was “perfect” for her. She mourned for him for a long time. She said she would never find anyone that great again. It is natural to feel this way when one day someone dreamy walks into a life only to leave making us realise that the dream was not real. But here is the thing. Someone who is right for us is someone who wants to be with us, not someone who fits the checklist. He is a great guy, and he spent some great time with me does not equal to he wants to be with forever. Harsh, but true.
Being sad and bitter will only make your personality less appealing. Less appealing to someone who may actually want to be with you.
“You must make a decision that you are going to move on. It wont happen automatically. You will have to rise up and say, ‘I don’t care how hard this is, I don’t care how disappointed I am, I’m not going to let this get the best of me. I’m moving on with my life.”
― Joel Osteen, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential