The One That Got Away

My friend Skittles is in his thirties and looking forward to settling down and starting a family. He is good looking, successful, spiritual, charming, intelligent, funny…he has a lot going for him. Yet in spite of the legion of girls tugging on his heartstrings, he is having a hard time committing to anyone.  After listening to his tales of woe, it soon became apparent why.  Like many people I know he suffers from what I call the-one-that-got-away syndrome.

A few years ago he met the girl of his dreams. She was everything he wanted in a woman and they dated for a year. As with every relationship, they had trying times and for reasons I cannot disclose, they split up. It’s been two years since the relationship ended and he has spent every minute since, wishing he could turn back the hands of time. Unfortunately for him, the girl in question is now engaged and getting married at the end of this year. He is happy for her and has reconciled himself to the reality that there’s no going back for them. The problem though is that she has become the standard by which he judges every girl he meets. It’s not something he does consciously or wants to do but it is what it is. I have nothing against having standards and preferences but when those standards are inextricably linked to another human being, it’s a recipe for disaster. No two people are exactly alike, not even Siamese twins. To expect another human being to replicate his ex-girlfriends idiosyncrasies is irrational…and he knows it. He is addicted to his memories of her and those memories have been altered by time.  When they were together, they had some important irreconcilable differences that brought the relationship to its knees yet his memories of those trials have become romantic, the hurt and the pain washed away with the tide of time.

He recently met a girl he really likes and the reason he called me was to tell me about her. His latest love interest couldn’t be better suited to him if he created her himself.  He sang her praises and highlighted all the reasons why he believes she might be the one but when I asked what he’s waiting for he couldn’t give me an answer that made any sense. Exasperated, I asked him what more he was looking for and he responded, “It’s just not the same with her.”

I didn’t know what to say to him because everything I had to say, he knows already. I feel especially sorry for him because I’ve been there before.  It took a while but I laid the ghost of the-one-that-got-away to rest for my own sanity. It’s amazing how much perspective you gain when your head and heart finally exit dreamland. There are always reasons why relationships don’t work out and instead of living in regret and building castles in the sky, it’s a lot more useful to make a note of the things that went wrong and learn from them so that you don’t make the same mistakes when the next person comes into your life. No two people are the same and it’s important that you appreciate a person for who they are and embrace them as such. Placing an ex on a pedestal may well be a sign that there are still emotional ties you need to severe before you get into a new relationship.

He wanted my advice and I gave it to him. I told him that until he is ready to let go of his past and embrace his future, he should do his new love interest (and himself ) a favour and stay away from her. No will ever measure up to his illusion of perfection and till he is ready to shatter the dream, he needs to stay single. Ultimately, he will do whatever he chooses to and I can only hope things work out for him but he asked for my opinion and I gave it.

What do you guys think? Is he still pining for his ex or is the new girl just not the one?




  1. Really interesting piece ….hmm I dont think he’s necessarily pining for his ex but rather unable to emotionally detach himself from the illusion of what he believes’ could have been’. The new girl could be the one or maybe not who knows, but like you rightly pointed out to him till he’s prepared to let go of the past ( who is getting married….I believe you said) and embrace the future ( whoever she may be) he shouldnt get too attached to the new girl…. But please also tell him that he shouldnt take too long in figuring it all out as the years do roll by oh so quickly and before he’ll be able to bat an eyelid he could be heading towards his mid 30’s if not later. I must add though that I’ve come across quite a few guys in their 30’s and even early 40’s who are still waiting for God to drop this perfect woman from the skies forgetting they themselves are WIP’s(works-in-progress).


  2. sigh*
    …been there, done that, got the t shirt and the hat…

    The funny thing though is when you really let go, you realize that “the one that got away” was not really that great, otherwise you wouldn’t have let them get away… ya dig?

    The thing about getting older is that you associate everything to everything else. He will always compare – and that’s normal…but…Encourage him to enjoy the beauty and newness of the new relationship. “Different” (or “Not the same”) does not always equal “worse.”


  3. Waila, why u putting me on blast, thot I told u this in confidence! hmmph…

    LOL jokes…on a serious note, sounds all too familiar. All I can say is thank God for Jesus…it’s really the best thing ever to get over something you thought you’d never be able to get over 😉


  4. I reckon until his ex finally gets married he won’t completely let go….somewhere in his sub-conscious perhaps there’s a tiny window of hope that she might change her mind and they’ll get back together and so forth….the door is still open and until it’s completely shut with the key thrown out in to the sea of forgetfulness, lover boy ain’ moving on.xx


  5. @Mr B: LMAO. he wanted to be put on blast to get other people’s opinions. This is a social experiment of sorts.
    IyasoStuff and Mr B have just further cemented my theory that most people have a one-that-got-away.
    He’s read all your comments and Kwartema, he is having palpitations at the thought f being 40 and single! Lol.


  6. I agree with Bee above.. Unfortunately for your friend Skittles,, as long as he continues to dwell on the past and his ideal young lady, he would be unable to embrace the promise and beauty that lies ahead of him.

    Fact is this girl has obviously moved on and is about to say ‘I do’ in a few months.. And fact is he is sadly not yet over her…

    The power she (+ what happened in the past) has over him is the ability to control his emotions and obviously the course of his future. He allows her and the past to indirectly determine his relationship decisions.. If she came back now, would he still go with her? Is his life at a standstill, waiting for her to sign the dotted lines so that it can confirm that she is a no go area?

    He needs to make up his mind and accept it that she is gone and a part of his past. It’s not easy by any means but he needs to consciously work at it.
    Does he still keep in touch with her? Communicate with her? Facebook/bb her? He needs total closure.. I would advise that he has a ‘no communication’ policy until he feels he is ready to do so with a settled heart (Best after her wedding + his wedding for good measure).. It’s not all your exes that you remain friends with. Love/care about her from afar…

    You mentioned that He is spiritual, one of the best and most effective ways to get over a broken relationship is to hand over your heart to God. Let Skittles pray sincerely and diligently about it and ask God to help him deal with the emotional implications of the break-up and give him the grace to be able to get over it and love someone else. Sounds idealistic, but it does work. God made emotions, He gave them to us, He can help to handle them – the Potter knows how to handle His clay!

    Finally, I would encourage him to explore this new relationship if she really is a great girl.. He doesn’t need to rush into it, be friends first; don’t rush things but let him let her know that he is interested in the possibility of something more. Nevertheless, he shouldn’t stall for too long, good girls don’t come that easy, and they usually know when they are filling in for someone else or just second best :-).. Let him be reminded in the words of Boys II Men ‘Don’t let real love pass you by’.

    I do hope it goes well.. xx


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