Why Ending An “Almost Relationship” Hurts So Much
A lot of us have found ourselves in a position where we began dating someone with hopeful intentions; then, things stalled. Maybe for weeks, perhaps months. And while our situation looked, felt, and sounded like a relationship, it wasn’t. It was what a lot of people call an “almost relationship.”
If your heart is hurting because of the end of an almost relationship, chances are, you never intended to be in one. I'd guess that one person was hesitant to make things serious, while the other stood back, too scared to speak up.
I know because I’ve been there. I dated a guy for several months — watched the sparks fly, and our connection deepen. I met his friends, and he met mine. Yet we never talked about defining the relationship, even though I secretly wanted him to be my boyfriend. I stood by while I let him dictate where things went, which eventually led to him texting me less often after I implied I wanted more. He was kind enough to at least give me a call to say we were done, but the pain of him ending things hurt, even though we never had a label.
It’s not fun to be in a position where you want more, but are unsure of the other person’s feelings. Expressing your desire to be in a relationship is scary; you have to be vulnerable and possibly face rejection. That’s why a lot of people simply stand back while they let the relationship play out on its own terms. It’s why things remained an “almost,” rather than ending sooner.
Why, then, does this kind of breakup hurt as much as a real one? Why is it that sometimes, it feels like it hurts even more? Well, there are a few reasons.
Your feelings were real
The length of a relationship doesn’t determine the legitimacy of your feelings, nor does the status of the relationship. Part of why an almost relationship hurts so much is that we feel silly for having those intense feelings in the first place. We fall into thinking that since the relationship was never “official,” the emotions we’re feeling aren’t justified.
But that’s simply not the case. No matter the length or depth of a relationship, you can still have real feelings for another person. You may have even loved them. And this kind of mourning is hard because it’s something that isn’t talked about. A break up comes with a manual. The end of an almost relationship comes with confusion.
Things were unclear
In an almost relationship, you feel like you’re always on the verge of something more. You imagine that one day your almost-partner will kiss you and suddenly want to be in a serious relationship. You’re strung along through the blurry in-between that is neither a defined relationship nor a casual fling.
Being in an unclear relationship with another person can evoke a lot of very real feelings. As humans, we thrive off understanding what is going on, even more so if we want a serious relationship with the individual we're seeing. Most times, there’s no closure to be had with the end of an almost relationship, because the other person feels there’s no need to explain the end of something that never was.
Rejection hurts, no matter the form
Having feelings for another person is a vulnerable state to be in. Having those feelings rejected? That’s a whole other kind of unbearable pain.
When any sort of attraction towards another person occurs, your body experiences a chemical reaction. Abruptly being rejected by that same person makes the reaction even more intense. All of a sudden, you may feel like you want them even more. It doesn’t matter what the relationship looked like, losing someone you had a connection with is like trying to work through addiction.
You compromised your needs
If you’re grieving an almost relationship, chances are you wanted things to be more than they were. You never wanted to be in that unclear gray area; you knew how you felt about the other person.
But your attraction to them kept you in an undefined relationship, even when you weren’t okay with it. You always hoped for something more and didn’t want to give up on the potential. Now that things are over, you feel betrayed — not only by them, but by yourself. You allowed someone else to dictate the terms of a relationship you were never okay with. You stayed with someone who didn’t treat you the way you want to be treated.
You feel like there’s hope
Since the status of your almost-relationship was never clear, but always continued like something could happen in the future, you still feel like there’s hope they’ll see the light. You are sad, upset, and maybe even mad, but that doesn’t change the little feeling inside you that they may still come around.
And how can you move through the pain of a relationship ending — even an “almost” one — if you hold out hope that the person will return? The answer is: you can’t. The only solution to this is to ask yourself why it is you hope they return. Why do you want someone who never wanted you in the same way? You need to dig deep and be honest with yourself about what you deserve; because the fact is, you deserve more than a relationship that’s “almost.”