Mind & Body

How To Get Over Someone You Never Actually Dated

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Hot take: that old adage about getting under someone new being the best way to get over someone is really true. It’s so much easier to just transfer your feelings to the next person, especially if your entire relationship was happening solely in your imagination. If it was that easy to fall in love intense-like with someone, the loss of your crush wouldn’t be hitting you hard enough to look for advice on the internet. We’ve all been there. Maybe an F.W.B. didn’t want to be M.O.R.E., you’ve finally realized that you and your best friend aren’t heading towards a Made Of Honor-type situation, or that guy you never actually got up the courage to talk to had the audacity to start dating someone else.

The loss of all that potential can be even harder on the heart than the end of some actual relationships. At least with “real” breakups, you know that your S/O was actually into you in the first place, and you have concrete proof that you weren’t meant to be together. Like, yeah, it still majorly sucks, but the feeling that you’ll literally *never* know if you and whoever you’re pining over would have been as perfect as you dreamed is a whole other ballgame.

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Sometimes, it seems like talking about something makes it real. If you never told your friends about this crush/hookup, once you get over them, your life will continue on forever like it literally never happened. The best thing about getting over someone you weren’t technically involved with is that it’s only a real as you make it. No one is going to expect you to talk about it, especially random acquaintances who live for gossip, and there’s probably less to say about it than you’d think. When you’re in the middle of a crush, it can be fun to dissect five-minute conversations for meaning, but when you’re on your way out of it and trying to explain your searing pain to someone else, you’ll realize that the whole story can be told pretty quickly. Instead of rehashing it over and over again, constantly reopening the wound because you desperately want to talk about what you’re thinking, just don’t. Don’t give these emotions the power of your words, and they will go away faster. The only thing that will fully obliterate them is time, but by keeping it a part of your daily life in conversation just keeps it alive for longer. For friends that you’ve been talking to about this person for a while, ask them to make a rule that you cannot mention your almost lover’s name. You can enforce this like a childhood swear jar and Venmo them 25 cents every time you slip up, or you can just give them permission to aggressively shut you down once you broach the subject. It keeps you accountable, and it lets your friends know that you’re serious about putting this person behind you.

You can even take this a step further and blatantly lie when asked about it. Fake it ’til you make it is a saying for a reason. If your instinct is to say you’re not over them, then say that you’re totally over them, even in your own head. Instead of indulging your feelings, actively try to implant new ones into your brain. It sounds crazy, but denial is the first stage of grief for a reason. Also, jokes aside, changing your internal narrative really can help. Forbes reported on a Yale study that showed a “productive story” (aka lying to yourself that you believe everything is going to be fine) actually yielded tangible results. “Small shifts in mindset can trigger a cascade of changes so profound that they test the limits of what seems possible,” Dr. Carol Dweck wrote. If it’s good enough for Dr. Carol, it’s good enough for us.

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Another downside of getting over someone you didn’t date? You only know their silver linings, so you’re mourning a version of a person you at least partially imagined in your head. Am I being Doug Middlebrook right now, or what? Anyway, either you only know them as a casual hook-up and can delude yourself into thinking they’d answer your texts faster if they were actually committed to you, they’re just a friend so you have no idea if they’re *actually* good in bed, or you barely know them and have created a new person entirely from scratch. Instead of fantasizing about your not-quite-ex and their magical ability to find the clitoris cite Ariana Grande factoids, use that mental real estate for someone equally as unattainable but more worth your time, like one of the Avengers’ actors. Literally, any of them, they’re all gorgeous. Read Chris Evans’s cover story for Men’s Health and instead of imagining yourself at a middle-tier fraternity formal, change the narrative. You’re at Chris Evans’s Massachusetts farm house and you own a dog together. He lets you drive the car Robert Downey Jr. gave him after Endgame. He never makes you go camping with him. A much more worthwhile fantasy, and when it doesn’t come true, you won’t feel like a million little knives are plunging into your chest.

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Like, this works for non-physical attributes too, of course. He always cracks his neck. She hasn’t actually committed to anyone since high school. He thinks it’s okay to use the r-word even though it’s 2019. People are all trash, and reminding yourself of all the ways your Significant Almost wasn’t really The One when you see them pop up on Snapchat can be great. If you and this person are still friends, though, this is probably not the best route to take. It’s best not to focus on your friends’ horrible traits if you’re intending on staying friends with them (although, please tell them to lay off the slurs, like seriously people) because it leads to you suddenly becoming a moody crazy person. Just because you’re heartsick doesn’t mean you have a license to treat people poorly, especially since going from wide-eyed adulation to snippiness will be a dead giveaway that you’re super into your friend and you’re not happy about it.

Instead, do the mature thing and go into this with a spirit of love and generosity by *internally* picking apart their messed up facial features. Even the hottest people in the world have them, and you’re more likely to think a 6 is a 9.5 when you think you’re soulmates. Chris Evans is my soulmate and the most attractive man in the world, but his beard completely eats his upper lip in a weird way that emphasizes his already-lacking upper lip situation. I overlook it because we are fated to be together, but it’s just further proof that everyone has something. If you really look at a picture of your own face for long enough, you realize that you’re a little cross-eyed, one side of your face is bigger than the other, and you might be getting premature wrinkles. It happens every time you’re on FaceTune for too long and is also the reason God invented FaceTune. Undo the mental-FaceTune of your Almost S/O, and you’ll realize their eyes are too close together, their eyebrows belong scurrying amongst other woodland creatures, and they’ve *never* done leg day. I can guarantee that last one if you’re into dudes because, for some reason, every man skips leg day.

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It’s easy to start bashing on yourself when something with potential doesn’t pan out. You wonder if they weren’t into you because of a cacophony of physical flaws that only you notice and immediately ask what you could have done better to get their attention. Think about the people you’ve rejected for a minute. Not the random nerds who creep on everyone or the terrifying guys that hang out in clubs, but actual people that you know and are friends with that you’ve either ignored completely or let down gently. There’s nothing inherently unattractive about 90% of these people. As we’ve already established, everyone has flaws that we blur out with FaceTune our emotions, and we still convince ourselves our crush could be the next Zac Efron (or at least the next Matt Healy… we’ve all got our types). The only difference between these scrubs and the guys and girls you’ve rejected is your perspective. You might love them as people but not love them as partners, and my tenuous grasp on science tells me that’s because of pheromones.

The Smithsonian cites a 2005 study that showed scent drew women to “a genetically compatible mate” despite lack of concrete evidence that a human sex pheromone exists, which is supported by a 2013 scholarly article that suggests pheromones could play a role in mate selection. The Smithsonian points out that pheromone studies are always made more complicated by factors like “other sensory inputs like sight and sound, past experiences, learning, [and] context,” which are honestly just five more things that *aren’t about you* that can influence someone’s decision not to fall in love with you. I have a friend who only dates blonde girls with bad noses, and every girl he crushes on is reliably another blonde who has likely at one point considered rhinoplasty. Weirdly enough, he didn’t even realize his blatant and enduring type until it was pointed out by someone else, and even that didn’t stop the parade of blondes with slightly-off noses. If you studied his dating history or his childhood, there’s probably something in his nurture that led to his dating niche. If someone outside of that niche fell for him, it wouldn’t be their fault that he’d probably never notice them. He’d just be too distracted by photos of Ashlee Simpson c. 2004.

TL;DR, stop ragging on yourself for someone else’s lack of interest. Crushes are truly random and reciprocation is left to fate, timing, and probably science.

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These “fixes” are all kind of like DayQuil. They’ll mask your symptoms and sometimes you might totally forget that you feel horrible, but the only thing to cure the most common cold of all (heartbreak, duh) is time. If romantic comedies have taught us anything, it’s that love is all about timing. Anna Faris and Chris Evans would literally have never gotten together in What’s Your Number? if they’d met before Anna decided she needed to keep her “number” down to remain a functioning member of society. (BS, btw.) Harry met Sally, and then they spent the better part of a decade *not* together because the timing just wasn’t right. This does not mean that you should hold out hope that the stars will align for you and your crush to get together. Ashley Iaconetti and Jared Haibon would have never ended up together if she hadn’t finally moved on with Kevin Wendt because, before then, she was (and we say this with love) bordering on creepy stalker clinger territory. The best thing that you can do for your crush is let it go, and we mean *really* let it go. No placeholders. No biding your time. Actually move on, to other people and adventures. If this wasn’t meant to be, then you’ll have saved yourself a lot of time and dignity, and if you’re one of the 0.1% that get to live out their rom-com fantasies, it’s probably because that time not thinking about your person allowed you both to grow and change in a way that made you actually compatible.

Use this heartbreak as a learning experience. When you’re ready, figure out what exactly drew you to this person while you’re cataloging their flaws so you know what to look for in the next one. See what opportunities that you could have seized and didn’t to prepare you for the great love that is coming and make you a stronger version of yourself. Nelson Mandela once said he either wins or he learns. Dude spent nearly three decades in jail for no good reason and still ended up with a W, so he knows what he’s talking about. You definitely didn’t win here, so take the opportunity to learn and grow. You’re amazing, and you’re going to be ready for something life-changing once you come out on the other side.

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