I sat on the floor of my bedroom with my back against the dresser. His voice had a hint of hesitancy mixed with a serious tone. I knew this conversation wasn’t going to go well.
“I need to cancel our dinner plans tonight,” he said and then continued, “I don’t think we should date anymore. I can’t commit to something serious right now with work and everything.”
I hung up the phone and sat there, tears welling up in my eyes.
I felt heartbroken and foolish. Heartbroken because I dated this guy for two and a half months and really liked him. Foolish because I was upset over someone who was never my boyfriend. I felt like I shouldn’t be upset.
What I had with that guy was an almost relationship. Something a lot of people experience but isn’t talked about much. It’s when you date someone but never get to the point of being “serious” or where you “define the relationship.”
As a result of the ambiguity, it’s confusing how to feel when things end. You may think it’s silly to have feelings over something ending that never was. That’s how I felt the night my almost relationship ended.
But I realize now that an almost relationship is more than people make it out to be. I downplayed a situation that didn’t need to be. And I realized a few things I want you to know if you are in the situation I was that night.
Whatever the relationship looked like, it was something.
Think about it: you have all sorts of relationships in your life. You have a relationship with your boss, aunt, brother, and parents. Hell, you even have a relationship with the local barista you see every week.
A relationship is defined as “the way in which two or more people are connected.” It says nothing in there about the connection needing to be romantic. So I want you to consider something.
You and your almost relationship had a relationship, regardless of what they said or how long things lasted. Sure, it might not have been the same as a fully-committed long-term relationship, but it was still a relationship.
And because of that, it mattered.
It’s OK to feel upset like you would with a breakup.
Now that we’ve established what you had was a form of a relationship, I want you to know it’s OK to grieve it. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling sad just because they weren’t your partner; you feel something because what you had meant something.
Some people break up after years together and barely feel anything; longevity doesn’t matter when it comes to the emotions someone feels when a relationship ends. Everyone is different.
So during those times that you feel like you might cry but stop yourself because you feel silly, let the tears come out. You’re only human. You’re allowed to feel upset about a connection you had with someone that’s now gone.
You may never get closure.
The thing about almost relationships is that the other person might not feel the need to explain why they don’t want to date anymore since you weren’t their partner. They might cop-out of giving you any sort of closure.
And that’s going to sting. It’ll feel like you’re reading a book, and you turn the page to find the rest of the pages ripped out. You aren’t getting the ending you thought you would.
I don’t like the advice of “create your own closure.” But I want you to at least remind yourself that someone choosing not to be with you is reason enough not to be with them anymore. It’s a good enough explanation to move on to the peace of mind you deserve.
Your time spent together wasn’t meaningless.
There’s meaning in every interaction you have. Even if the other person tries to act like what happened between you two meant nothing, it did. People can deny what happened, but that doesn’t erase what happened.
It’s a beautiful thing to appreciate the connection you had with someone, even if it didn’t pan out the way you thought it would. You aren’t silly for feeling like it meant something; you’re in touch with your emotions.
While you’re at it, know this experience holds meaning in the form of teaching you what to avoid in the future. We date to decide what’s right and wrong for us. This almost relationship can teach you a lot about that.
You can’t make someone choose you.
Love is elusive. Someone either feels it, or they don’t. No matter how hard you want to fight to make someone choose you, it’s something that’s wholly out of your control.
I’ve been in this position where I thought I could change someone’s mind. But really, the only person’s mind I needed to change was my own. I deserved to find someone who wanted to run alongside me, not a person I needed to chase.
One day, you’ll find someone who makes you realize that things don’t need to be so hard. That you’re worthy of a full-fledged relationship with someone who wants it just as much as you do.
Give yourself a chance to move on and cut ties with them.
When my almost relationship and I ended, I stalked him on his social media for months after. I thought it would make me feel better like I could find some sort of answer mixed into his Instagram feed.
But all I found was that he got into a relationship with a woman shortly after us. Which meant his “I’m not looking for something serious” excuse wasn’t true. The real reason was that I simply wasn’t the right person for him.
I layered on unnecessary pain to a situation by going to the source of my sadness. It wasn’t until I deleted his number and stopped checking his social media that I gave myself a chance to move on properly.
As tempting as it might be to check in on them or even “stay friends,” give yourself time when you don’t have any contact with or see them. You’ll be better equipped to move forward if you aren’t constantly reminded of them.
We have to stop acting like almost relationships aren’t filled with meaning and pain from when they end. This stigma is only making it harder for people to process a relationship that is confusing enough as is.
If you’re coming out of an almost relationship, feel your emotions and take as much time as you need to grieve. What you had was something. And the end of anything in our lives is something we need time to come to terms with.