Stop Letting The One That Got Away Ruin Your Life


To quote the great philosopher, Kenny Chesney, “They’re not here, but they’re not gone.”

I was 16 when I met my soul mate and 17 when he left me. And I was well into my twenties when I let him and the idea of the “one that got away” die. He ruined every relationship I had after him without even trying. Sure, he definitely texted, and AOL Instant Messaged, and hit me up on Facebook. Liked pictures and tweeted me too. But lots of guys did all that. 100 likes and his was the only one I saw.

I gave him a power he didn’t ask for, a power he didn’t want. You see in my head, he was the one that got away. And every time he reached out to me, it was like he was coming back. Every lyric he posted, he had me in mind. Every song that came on the radio threatened to take me out of the present and put me right smack in the middle of my teenage tragedy.

I dated great guys, but I was always looking past their greatness to see if he noticed. Was he jealous? Would this be the final straw?

Those few years were a whirlwind, fueled my low self-esteem and misplaced adoration.

A non exhaustive list of things I did because of the one that got away: made out with girls, made out with boys, drank, went places I thought I might run into him, went to parties so I could post pictures of me out having a good time, exercised, dated idiots, ignored total dimes, drove by his house, obsessively watched movies like Serendipity, My Best Friend’s Wedding and the Before Sunrise trilogy. (BTW don’t even claim to have a long lost soul mate if you’re not familiar with that trilogy. You know zero about destiny and pining if you haven’t binge watched it and claimed Ethan Hawke as your celeb one that got away. Culture yourself, rent them now and pretend like you’ve always loved them.)

One way to know you’re in this type of situation is if you’re too embarrassed to list the things you’ve done. Your thirst level will reach EPIC proportions when dealing with the one that got away. Still not sure if you’re grappling with the “one that got away?” Another key identifier is to look for the person who keeps effing every relationship up. The person from the past that you’re willing to make drama in the present for is usually your ill-fated match.

Now that we’ve identified the person sabotaging your existence, let’s examine their absent soul mate qualifications. The one that got away…

Will come and go. Go being the operative word. The ex that pops in and out of your life isn’t reappearing because stars are periodically aligning. They’re coming and going (probably literally and sexually if you know what I’m sayin’) because you’re letting them. It’s not fate, you’re just a masochist with an open door policy.

People who pine for someone who got away are typically very fond of the phrase “timing is everything.” (Which is an excuse to blame the universe, instead of accepting something isn’t meant to be.)

Is great. Typically we don’t get overly attached to people that suck. Mine was everything I could’ve wanted. Funny, athletic, smart, and caring. He was also human. He had a lot of bad traits that I ignored (because who doesn’t). Once I decided he was the one for me, those conveniently got looked over. The one that got away is almost always a cross between Zac Efron and the Dalai Lama. I implore you to look past the volunteering and 6 pack, and find the flaws.

Broke up with you. I’ve never met a person who told me they ended their relationship with their soul mate. It’d be like me not finishing my French fries, or passing up free drugs: unlikely. Us humans are driven entirely by ego, and NOTHING is more devastating to our self-esteem than a person who tells you they’ve changed their mind about being with you. When someone knows you and then says, “Eh, no thanks” it has the power to unravel our logic, destroy what you know as fact, and ultimately leave you certain that this person was without a doubt the human you were supposed to spend the rest of your life with.

Once someone breaks up with you, it’s like they erased your memory and you can’t seem to recall all of the terrible things they did. You might have even been aware of how not cool they were and already realized that you had little in common.

Perhaps you had even been thinking about breaking up with them. But IF this person beats you to it, they essentially have doomed you to an eternity of unwarranted “What could have beens” and swooning.

Might genuinely care about you. It can be quite confusing, because so and so might hear a song on the radio and text you and be all “remember that time?!,” but if there’s one thing you take away from this article I want it to be this… the person that you’re supposed to be with isn’t texting you about songs they heard. THEY’RE WITH YOU. You’re listening to those songs together. The one that got away cares about you, but not enough.

Reemerges post break up. This person typically goes radio silent once they start dating someone, they also usually talk to you for the first few weeks or however long it takes for them to feel comfortable enough in their new relationship to let you go. And then? Dead air. Because they’re not gonna risk messing up their new situation with your tired broke down unexciting comfortable love. Bet your ass they’re gonna circle back for it when that new new doesn’t pan out. You are a lighthouse. They see you and they know they’re safe. And don’t get it twisted; they’re your port in the storm too. As long as they’re out there, you know you’ve got something to fall back on.

Is a good match. Maybe they’re not a deadbeat. Maybe you guys actually do make a good couple. You guys probably had a ton of fun together, laughed all the laughs. But you have to stop strolling down memory lane. Live in the now, it’s all you got.

Is a bad match. Time has a way of changing people, but you’re likely to cling to the original version of the one that got away. After we broke up, we continued to reconnect and there would be glaring inconsistencies between us in religion, politics, and hobbies. I preferred the simple 19 year old boy I fell in love with. It was hard to imagine settling down with the man that was before me, but I could easily see myself belly laughing in the black pick-up truck from that teenage summer. So that’s where I kept us, frozen in the past.

People change, allow them to. Their growth, whether it leads them away from you or not, will help reveal things about yourself. Confining someone to your image of them doesn’t keep them the same, it just makes reality harder to accept.

Holding on to my ex, kept me firmly rooted in the past. And while you’re fixated on what’s already happened, your life is passing you by. However cliché that might sound, it’s the truth. Don’t be so stubborn that you ignore other opportunities and whatever you do, don’t camouflage foolishness with romanticism.

If you still don’t believe me, I present you two options that are action based and don’t require you to be a passive victim of “destiny.”

  • Tell the one that got away. The time is now, not later.

One of my biggest regrets is not addressing this issue head on with my special lad, because he is a straight shooter, and instead of letting me down easy he would have said, “Chill Scar, chill. You’re cool. But you’re not my one and only.” I wanted to spend a few years making a fool of myself, so I stayed silent and kept my phone close.

  • Move on. Fully and fearlessly, and not with one eye on the past. If your beloved fate does its job, then you’ll be together. If you do finally cross paths again and the time is right, don’t you want to be the best version of yourself? Start making decisions today based on where you want to be in the future, don’t spend another day being half present. Follow your own path; don’t force your two to align.

If you hold on to the belief that someone got away, you give their memory power to punctuate your existence. They will continue to exert control over your life for as long as you let them. Let yourself move on. Or you could continue to read both of your horoscopes. None of my business.