There’s plenty of advice out there on how to get over a breakup, but what about those situations in which you have to let go of someone you were interested in and barely know? Maybe you developed feelings for someone who you chatted with online for a couple of weeks, but then it fizzled prior to the first date. Or you were really excited about someone who you went out with a handful of times but it never led to anything serious and your feelings weren’t reciprocated. Maybe this person caught your attention and you can’t stop your mind from thinking about what could have been. Regardless of the specifics, you may find yourself obsessing about this person and feeling stuck. Getting over someone you didn’t have the opportunity to date or someone you didn’t date for very long can still be a challenging and emotional journey.
Here are four tips for moving on and getting over someone you don’t know well, but feel intensely drawn to:
1. First and foremost, be compassionate with yourself as you process the rejection. What’s important here is allowing yourself to feel the pain of rejection without getting stuck or avoiding how you feel. Rejection stings. Loss hurts. Even though you might feel silly being so invested in someone you don’t know well, the truth is being rejected by someone you never met or barely know can also be upsetting, especially if you had high hopes. It’s natural to feel disappointed when something potentially exciting doesn’t work out. Give yourself permission to acknowledge your feelings without judgment. Judging yourself for feeling hurt will only make your pain linger. This will also take a toll on your confidence. If you are able to feel your emotions, they will pass sooner and you can move on and date with a clean slate.
2. Acknowledge how your feelings for this person are based mostly on fantasy. As mentioned above, you are allowed to feel upset about the relationship not taking off or missing an opportunity to get to know someone you believe could be your ideal person. However, it is important to note that the majority of your feelings toward this person and your ideas about them are coming from your own narrative. It’s likely you’re romanticizing what it would be like to date this person, making them more appealing than in reality. Our brains don’t do well with uncertainty, and we’re very good at theorizing, guessing and creating stories. So, many of your assumptions and fantasies are based on your mind due to gaps in concrete information. Give yourself a reality check and remind yourself you are allowed to feel let down, but much of your interest in this person may be fueled by your perception. In fact, this person may actually be closer to stranger status than friend status. Much of what you may be fantasizing about may not be accurate, so letting go of your thoughts and addressing how they impact your feelings, are crucial steps in moving on.
3. Understand focusing on a specific person will keep you closed to others and interfere with being present for other conversations and dates. Obsessing about one particular person is bound to leave you less receptive to other potential partners. You may be tempted to avoid dating altogether or feel generally unmotivated. If you do go on dates, you may be closed, distracted, uninterested or just going through the motions, not really giving your dates a fair opportunity to get to know you. You may compare every potential partner to the person you are trying to get over, causing you to be extra picky and hard on others. Having the awareness that all of the above outcomes may occur if you are stuck on one person is essential in taking the steps to move on and let go. This awareness will also help you catch yourself engaging in these habits.
4. Move toward acceptance, put yourself out there and don’t give up on your dating and relationship goals. Allow yourself to grieve, feel upset and unmotivated, and take a break from dating if you need time to heal and readjust your expectations. Have acceptance as your goal. Letting go of this person may feel like a temporary setback, but staying aligned with your goals and values will lead to confidence and intentional action.
Getting over someone you didn’t know well may not be the same level of heartbreak as the end of a long-term relationship, but it can still feel challenging. Responding to your thoughts and feelings in healthy ways, and giving yourself a reality check when you catch yourself in a fantasy world, will help ease your suffering and allow you to get back out there.