At least three men from my past consider me the one who got away. Among them are my first boyfriend who went to prison when I was 18. Altogether, he served 12 years (I was devastated for at least two). There’s my recent ex (well, we broke up 4+ years ago) who calls every three months to ask if I’m married yet. And another one who told me he needed “space” after he got another woman pregnant. I let him go (and I was majorly depressed), but only found out about the baby via my sister once the child was born. Separately, the man I had children with is just off the table as a topic of discussion. I will say that he tried to make my life hell because of his bitterness. (Dude, get over it.)
And so on.
In stark contrast, I don’t have a “one who got away.” There isn’t one man from my past who I think I’d be better off with today – or that I feel I could have married and lived happily – or comfortably, ever after with.
My lessons? In love and in life? Invaluable. Do I know what it’s like to have a man love you so much that he would never leave? Yes. Is love enough? No. I keep reading that love is an action verb. Perhaps.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how we have to learn to love each partner based on their needs. Based on their experiences, past pains, hangups, scars and wounds – and what makes them happy. What brings out the best in them. The type of expressions that make them feel emotionally connected and appreciated.
And so, we create unique bonds based on actionable love, mutual respect, and the rest – starting with communication. Communication is the center.
I feel like I’ve gone off on a tangent.
Being stuck on any one who got away (or left, or got kicked out, fell out, bounced — whatever) – forever – is unhealthy, outside of extenuating circumstances of course. And even then, there’s a grief and healing process. The key is in knowing there’s a better match out there for you (if you haven’t yet found them).
None of my prior romantic relationships would be suitable for me at this stage. (Amen.) In each one, I yearned for something different – loyalty, companionship, communication, plain old compatibility, etc. I do embrace the possibilities with LB though; he’s the best one yet.
What are your feelings on the concept of “the one who got away?” Which party normally holds on to that prospect? The one who got dumped, or the one who did the dumping? Have you ever entered a new relationship knowing you were pining over someone else? What happened?
Categories: Advice, Personal Stories
I think either party can hold on to the prospect but I think (based on personal experiences and those of my friends) the dumper generally feels this the most. I think it’s because when you dump someone you’re saying “you’re great (or horrible) but there’s better out there for me”; so if you don’t find better, you start looking to your past and missing what you had. But obviously this can go both ways because being left by someone you thought was perfect also creates that longing to find something better.
I try not to pine over people when going into new relationships but it’s impossible not to compare partners especially if you had a long-term relationship with your ex. They become a part of your routine so finding someone new inherently means finding a new routine.
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Hmm. Interesting way to look at it as far as routines. Personal norms do shift to accommodate new relationships and then, I think people either revert back (to the disdain of their partner) or establish a new norm and routines together.
Re finding better, I’m lucky I feel like at each stage of my life, my partners contributed to my growth somehow. That includes my current partner. The best is yet to come.
Thanks for chiming in!
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I’ve never canvased and considered a previous occupant as “One Who Got Away”. As so far as reflecting, I probably thought of one, maybe two, with a quick fleeting moment. The thought may have been to the nature of “What would it be like to court her in this era of my life”. Beyond that, I don’t indulge. Whatever the reason for the demise in previous relationships, I leave it there. Even with the two past women that I was responsible for the break-up (infidelity and lack of seriousness), I don’t hold them in my mind as a good one that got away.
I do get concerned with Black men and women who hold on to past hopes in that manner. I think it may reflect a resistance in growth. Or its possible that there is a residual guilt from previous interactions with that person. I don’t know. It’s hard to say why a man would hold a woman in his heart in that way.
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I think residual guilt might be a factor. Also, some men, after abandoning a relationship or what they consider a “good woman” go on to date for many years and never find anyone else who matches up. Of course there are plenty of great men and women in the world, but in order to meet a quality person, you have to believe you can and stop pining over the past. Thanks for chiming in!