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?