Breakups can take a toll on our emotional wellbeing. This type of loss can leave a hole in our lives that will take time to heal. But there are also those experiencing this same loss, only with someone they were never actually romantically involved with. When we're trying to move on from a relationship that might have been, things can become complicated.
I Never Dated Them, so Why do I Feel This Way? Can You Be Heartbroken over an Unrealized Relationship?
As strange as it might sound, getting over someone you never dated, according to experts, can be just as hard as a breakup. You can experience similar feelings: grief, sadness, frustration, rejection, disappointment, and fear.
With someone you never actually dated, according to experts you may unintentionally put them on a pedestal and assume it would have been a wonderful match, when in reality it may not have been. The rejection or loss of a potentially real and meaningful relationship can be hard to handle, but just like with a traditional breakup, you can heal and find a healthy way to move forward. We'll talk more about how you can overcome these issues throughout the article.
How do You Get Over Someone You Never Dated?
What would lead to a situation where you experience the paradox of getting over someone you never dated? Maybe you fell for a friend who didn't have the same feelings. Maybe you grew feelings for a coworker who was unavailable, or maybe you never had the nerve to explore your feelings for someone and tell them how you felt.
No matter the situation, you have no way of knowing. This is something you will want to remind yourself as you move through the process of getting over this person-you do not know that it would have worked out or been a good fit for you despite how it feels. It will not help your healing process if you spend time continuing to fantasize.
That said, it is extremely important to acknowledge your feelings. Your family and friends might say, "why are you so sad? It's not like you were ever together." They may be well intentioned and trying to help, but this is not helpful. It will only make the recovery process longer and harder if you minimize your feelings. It is important you don't deny your feelings or tell yourself it doesn't matter because you were never "official." Pain is pain and it is not always logical. If you need to cry, cry. Give yourself permission to reach out to your support network and tell them what you need. Maybe you need to go out, have fun, and start to move forward from the relationship you realized you will never have by focusing on the future. Or maybe you need to grieve and talk about what you feel you are missing.
Journaling is a great coping skill if you do not feel like talking. You can write about your feelings and thoughts. Anytime you are able to get thoughts and feelings out of your head and onto paper, you will make progress with healing. Be kind to yourself as you heal and do not set a timeline for when you need to be "over it." Allow yourself to feel. It is important that you do positive things that make you feel good. It can be a good idea to seek new hobbies and activities for self-growth and improvement. You can use this time to work on being the best version of yourself.
If this person is a friend who doesn't have the same romantic feelings for you, have an honest conversation with that friend and determine whether or not you can continue the friendship. It might be too painful for you to do so, or you might want to take a break while you heal. The other person might feel too uncomfortable as well. While a conversation of this nature might feel awkward, try to not be embarrassed. It could help salvage your friendship so that you do not lose a friend. Be proud of yourself for allowing yourself to be vulnerable with your feelings.
Another option is to sit with your feelings for a period of time and see if they fade. For example, if you develop an infatuation with a co-worker who is married or is unavailable, pause to examine what is going on in your life. Maybe you feel lonely and are ready to start a relationship and see this person as someone who would be a solution to your loneliness or desire for a relationship. Perhaps if you give yourself permission to be honest with yourself and figure out what is at the root of the feelings, you can focus on meeting new people and dating, rather than let the feelings for this co-worker grow and grow.
Counseling can be helpful in this process, as well as leaning on the support of your friends. You also want to check in with yourself and make sure you are not feeling so down that you are unable to enjoy life and meet your regular obligations.
What to Do if This Happens Often
While it is not abnormal to fall for someone who doesn't return your feelings or someone you never dated, according to experts, it might be helpful to examine why if you find yourself in this situation often. Are you afraid of rejection, so you find yourself fantasizing about people you know you will never date? Do you not think you are good enough for someone you are interested in, so you avoid putting yourself out there? Is dating overwhelming for you? There are many reasons that could lead to this happening often, and giving yourself permission to talk to a therapist can help you find the answers. It could also just be that you are ready to start a relationship and find yourself noticing any possibilities. If this is the case, you can talk with your counselor about healthy ways to meet people.
How to Cope with the Pain of Rejection for Someone You Never Dated
Although it will take time to heal, there are helpful coping mechanisms that will allow you to handle the pain that comes with rejection. Here are some of the most helpful strategies that you can employ at home.
Stay Busy and Work Towards What You Want
Avoidance is not helpful in terms of healing but doing your best to keep your mind off of the situation can lessen your pain and help you move on. One great way to do this is to stay busy and focus on other parts of your life you want to advance. You will mostly get so wrapped up that you will easily forget about your crush.
Connect with Friends and Loved Ones
Although you cannot have the person you may have wanted, you have people in your life who make you happy in a different capacity. Make a point to schedule more outings with friends and family to keep your mind off of your rejection.
Give Yourself Permission to Get Back Out There
Don't let the pain of rejection prevent you from going after what you want. Give yourself permission to meet the many people out there who will connect with you and love you equally. If you really want to have that type of connection, get back on that horse and try again. (Just make sure you're emotionally ready for it!)
Mending the Wounds of Getting Over Someone You Never Dated with BetterHelp
Your feelings are just as real and as valid as someone who is going through a breakup after a relationship. Don't let anyone minimize your feelings and need for support. It is important to understand why this has happened and the best way to heal. It is an important time to take care of yourself and allow yourself the space to heal and move forward. Communicating with a therapist such as those found at BetterHelp can be beneficial.
BetterHelp is an online counseling platform dedicated to providing people like you with access to certified therapists from the comfort of your own home and on your own time! You can get started immediately anywhere you have an internet connection, and there are a variety of ways you can communicate with your therapist: live chat, messages, video sessions, and phone calls. Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar issues.
"In one session Douglas has helped me realize and find a way to break a pattern that I've been having for the last few weeks and probably lifelong. This is going to help me improve my relationships and my life will be more fulfilling. I'm glad I got to talk to Douglas, I can sense he is a great professional."
"Erin is AMAZING. I've been having a lot of relationship related anxiety issues and she has been what I needed to FINALLY break through my own negative thoughts. She is worth every penny spent and I couldn't recommend her more. She's fantastic."
While falling in love with someone you can't have can be difficult, you can still get over it as you would with any legitimate breakup. Take time for yourself, get the necessary help and support, and get out there so that you can meet someone who will reciprocate your affections. With the right tools, a fulfilling relationship is possible. Take the first step.