The One That Got Away

The One That Got Away

The one that could have been, the one you never told how you feel, the one you let go that didn’t come back – or alternatively one you should have run away from. Why do some people play on our minds more than others? Is it just the romance of the ‘what if’, or is it a deep fear we’ve missed our one chance at love? We asked six people to share with us their stories of ‘the one that got away’.

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1.

Did you have a one that got away?

It wasn’t so much ‘the one that got away’ as ‘the one that could have been’. We met through a mutual friend in our first year of uni, both having moved to our new city to study. We got along reeeeallly well and loved hanging out, and it was only really over the past year in hindsight that I realised how much I had actually liked him. Things definitely could have happened if either one of us had the confidence to say something but neither of us ever did, and then I went home for the summer, came back for uni and he had a girlfriend. We were still friends, but I don’t think it could ever have gone back to what it was after that.

Why did you think they were the one? Do you still think that now?

I’m not sure I’d call him ‘the one’ but I think he could have been ‘a one’, which for me is significant considering I’m yet to find someone I like enough to try the whole relationship thang. But it took me a really long time to process that, which is probably why I think more about it now than I ever did when I came back and he had moved on.

In hindsight - would you do anything differently?

If I could go back, I’d want to give things a go. I would have been more willing to be vulnerable, and tell him what I was feeling (and hopefully I’d be better at actually figuring out my feelings in general) . But I was 18, I had literally NO experience with anything even closely resembling a relationship, was pretty crap at processing emotions in general, and neither of us ever said anything to the other. I guess that just shows that neither of us was ready. Maybe it taught me that finding a good thing is really special, and that finding a good thing with the right timing when you as people are both ready, is really really special.

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2.

Did you have a one that got away?

Maybe, just ya classic were-they-more-than-a-friend dilemma.

Why did you think they were the one?

I thought they might be the one, because honestly as cliche as it sounds, they felt like home. For as long as I can remember, whenever I spend time away I have this nagging desire to return home - but with them it seemed to dissipate. We could spend days and days together and I felt completely at peace. We could just drink coffee, read, talk, and it would be my favourite part of the day. I wanted to tell them when I found something interesting, I filled with pride at their wins, and on an off day when I was looking for something safe - their name is the one that came to mind. There was no second-guessing, no editing myself; they had been behind the wall and seen me at my worst - and until recently I realized that is something I let very few people do.

Do you think you over-romanticized it?

Well this is the dilemma! While all of the above does sound great, it’s not wildly romantic. It all felt easy and relaxed, and that confused me, because in the past my crushes and relationships had been marked by intensity and excitement. The absence of butterflies and instant attraction made me think that maybe I was just mistaking a great friendship for something else - in love with the idea of being in love with my best friend.

In hindsight - would you do anything differently?

There was a period of time where I felt like I wanted to say something. To make some big declaration, to ask them to throw their cards in and give this a go, why the f not! But I wasn’t sure, for the aforementioned reasons. Was it just a good friendship? What if they agreed to dive in - and then my fears were confirmed and I bolted? And most of all, if this was really something special, why had they never said or done anything about it? In the end, reason (or hesitancy) won, and I did nothing. I’ve dated other people, resolved that love has many faces, and maybe a wonderful friendship is all this should be. But in saying that, the idea of them seeing someone else does still tug at my wee heart, which makes me think maaaybe the door is slightly open, even now.

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3.

Did you have a one that got away?

I’m still in the process of figuring it out, he was my first love. We were together for 5 years but I always knew he was going to move overseas after uni. When the time came I had to decide whether I went with him or whether I stayed. That was a lot of pressure, but we knew that as much as we loved each other and as hard as it was going to be, we had to let each other go.

Why did you think they were the one? Do you still think that now?

I thought he could be the one as I couldn’t imagine meeting a more kind or more generous person who loved me as much as he did, and that without knowing it he was always challenging me to be a better person. I still think this and have definitely questioned a lot as to why I would let someone like that go. But I also feel that I could never have felt sure of him being the one if he was all I had known.
I have now reached a place where I believe that just as two people choose to ‘let’ each other go, they can also choose to be together - if we both feel one day that we are meant to be together then we can choose to make that happen, just as we chose to go our separate ways for the time being

In hindsight - what would you do anything differently?

The mutual decision we made to let each other go was one of the hardest things I have ever done but I wouldn’t do it differently. I feel lucky to have loved and have been loved by him and while I may wonder whether he was the one that got away, I think if we hadn’t let each other go I would have wondered what other experiences i could be missing
 

What did it teach you about relationships and love?

This experience taught me that relationships and love are the best things in life and we should be grateful for them and cherish them as at the end of the day they are what matter the most above all else. It also taught me that as scary and painful as it can be to lose someone, you will be ok and that experience will teach you so much about yourself. This experience also taught me that some of the greatest loves in your life are your friends - don’t ever let any of them be the ones that got away!

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4.

Did you have a one that got away?

Yes, there’s one I’m glad got away. We were always struggling to get the power from each other, when one person was keen, the other withdrew.

Why did you think they were the one?

He was the first guy I’d ever really liked and I romanticised him into what I thought was my ideal, despite many, many red flags. I had idealised notions of soul mates which I thought meant that all the bullshit would be worth it in the end because love would change him as a person eventually etc. But it also made me believe that it would not be true to myself to let it go. But we just basically manipulated each other for many years trying to get what we wanted. Always feeling like we were assessing each other against some invisible measuring stick and falling short. It felt amazing to get his approval but soul destroying to face his apathy (which was often).

What did it teach you?

Despite the thrill of being kept on your toes by someone that makes you feel terrible about yourself, the time came to lay down my idealised notions and move on- and I discovered the humbling truth that I made him feel shitty about himself too (I thought I was helping him become a better person). Now that my soul mate notions are truly dead, I’m now very happy with someone very different and we both really appreciate each other for who we are. It’s fun, and great! I feel myself blossom with him.

5.

Did you have a one that got away?

The only person I have properly loved ‘got away’ last year - they let me go. He was my first proper boyfriend, so naturally I very quickly became blinded by infatuation, coming to the conclusion that he was ‘the one’. In hindsight, although I still feel strongly about him, I don’t think he was, at least I hope so. Our lives are so different and it’s hard to imagine being together now.

What did it teach you about relationships and love?

My experience with him taught me to slow down and not rush a relationship, and to be very cautious of someone’s intentions and motives. I learned I’m a very sensitive person who gives a lot of myself away to a person I care about very easily, and so I need to protect myself better.

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6.

Did you have a one that got away?

Yes, I was completely besotted with him from day one. He was gorgeous, extremely creative and talented in design and I spent the majority of my time with him.  It was classic teen-angst - a beautiful, pure relationship of camaraderie blended with infatuation and lust. But he slept with the other girl in our trio group, ruining her self-confidence, as well as the dynamic of the group, and quite frankly, I wasn't a fan. So I let both of them go. Eventually he and I patched our friendship up, and we were closer than ever a couple of years after the drama that I completely opted out of. But, being an incredibly selfish person, he didn't have the decency to tell me why he disconnected himself from me from all forms of social media and other methods of contact. He went M.I.A. on the one person he spent most of his time with.

Do you regret it?

Nope. I learned a lot about myself and how sacrificial I can be in the name of love. To this day, I'm still pretty shocked about how I didn't have even a pash with my all-time crush. But as you can deduce, it  would've ruined the friendship and I wouldn't have been able to spend 4 years by his side. He's still a very special person to me and I probably won't forget our time together. But no matter how much people say that they've changed, an intrinsically selfish person will never be able to be empathize.

Do you think you over-romanticized it?

I don't think I over-romanticized it at all! I loved someone and cared excessively for that person. However, knowing that he is a cheater and also unable to care for anyone else but his own needs, I couldn't let myself try anything further than friendship. I knew that if I did, I'd be left with a shattered heart. So yes, he did get away, but I've since found my one - so I'm all good!

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