You know the signs of a relationship that’s dead in the water. They stop responding to your texts with the same excitement (or they stop completely), it becomes impossible to make plans or life just gets in the way. There are so many reasons a relationship can end before it even begins, and none of them make the mini-heartbreak any easier to get over.
Thankfully, the heartbreak doesn’t have to be permanent by any means. Plus, others have gone through this before you, and they’re here to help! Read on for ways to get over a relationship that never quite got started and for some collegiette advice for getting through the disappointment.
1. Take all the time you need
It’s easy to feel invalidated by a casual or brand new relationship. We all want to keep our cool in the early stages of a romance, and that often involves playing down our feelings. It’s also pretty much impossible not to think about where the potential significant other lands in your larger plans for life. “No matter how casual a relationship is, it’s hard not to think about a future with that person,” says Cristina, a senior at Marist College.
This doesn’t mean, though, that everything we feel isn’t legitimate. That said, it might take you a while to feel like your usual self after a brand new or getting-there relationship ends. There’s no one acceptable grieving period for every type of relationship or every length of relationship. Work through your emotions, take time for self care and do what you have to do on your own terms. After all, you are the one going through it!
Related: How to Get Closure After a Breakup
2. Don’t blame yourself
In any breakup scenario, it’s easy to develop a sort of complex about the “it’s not you, it’s me” reasoning. It has to be you, doesn’t it? Don’t let yourself get caught up in this kind of thinking. This reasoning isn’t always accurate, and it certainly isn’t good for your personal wellbeing in the wake of a breakup.
Blaming yourself for the ending of this kind of romance won’t get you anywhere. “There comes a point where you have tried everything you can and it still doesn’t work,” says Lauren*, a recent grad from Marymount University. “You have to know that things that happen like this are out of your control.”
Life happens, and you have to put yourself first when it does. “I am still holding on but it has come to the point where you need to do what is best for yourself and let go of something that no longer serves you,” Lauren says. There’s no reason to endure the pain of a relationship that isn’t working, and you also don’t need to have an excuse that makes sense to other people in order to justify its end.
3. Try to look at things objectively
There are plenty of circumstances that can lead to the early demise of a relationship. Rather than get caught up in the back and forth and the emotions of it all, it can be helpful to take a step back. Consider the realities that made it impossible for the relationship to go on. Maybe you had bad timing, like a casual summer hook-up that started to get serious, but you both had to return to school. Maybe one of you was fresh out of another relationship, and there was just no way you could get into something serious again.
You might also have been flat out incompatible in fundamental ways that didn’t make themselves evident at first. “I was in an amazing relationship with a guy who was my opposite in every way…we were so good together, but in the back of both of our minds, I think we knew it wouldn’t last,” says Cristina. “We couldn’t see a future where we were together…I just had to keep reminding myself that we wanted different things in life.” Sometimes it’s really that simple.
4. Avoid being sucked back in
Suddenly not having a person to go to for physical or emotional comfort is really jarring, and going cold turkey on this kind of intimacy and support won’t be easy. It will be for your benefit, though. If this means you have to block their number or be irrationally angry for a little while, that’s fine! “I’m taking it day by day and I’m focusing on myself, my friends, and my work,” says Catherine Lowe, a senior at Winthrop University. Whatever it takes to keep your head above water is what you have to do.
The reasons for the romance’s end are legitimate reasons, so you have to be kind of hard on yourself to make sure that you don’t let the other person get ahold of you. You also want to make sure it’s not you that ends up going back to them or trying to start things up again. “There’s probably a clear reason or collection of reasons as to why things ended, so reminding yourself of that will also remind you that the relationship’s not worth starting again,” says Megan Sawey, a senior at Temple University. Keep yourself busy and focus on what’s ahead of you.
It’s difficult to not lapse right back into something that was comfortable (even if not without its problems). “We got together several times after we broke up, which ended up being a mistake because in trying to end things civilly, we couldn’t stop having the same problems we always did,” says Cristina. It’s for your own good to keep the person out of your life, and it will make dealing with your emotions that much easier.
5. Remember this isn’t the only romance you’ll ever have
This can be the hardest part, but the old saying holds true—there are plenty of other fish in the sea! Wallowing has its merits and is a necessary part of the mourning of the end of a romance, but don’t let it turn you bitter. This was not the only romance you’ll ever experience in your life. It taught you about yourself and about what you’re looking for, which makes it a good thing, even if the feelings involved might be horrible.
If you’re the type of person who would benefit from a rebound, put on your best outfit and your biggest smile, get out there and get some! If you’re not, stick to your support circle of friends and family, and just don’t let yourself be alone and sad (at least not for too much time).
Don’t let what might have been keep you from enjoying the rest of your life, especially when it comes to romance. Endings are sad, painful and may even seem utterly pointless. You just have to do your best to remember that, in time, everything truly will be all right. For some immediate recovery, make yourself laugh, binge your favorite easygoing TV and talk things out with people who can give you support.
To give another cliché its due, your relationship with yourself is the most important one you can be in! Self-love is essential before, during and after a relationship. “We have to know our worth is greater than anyone’s uncertainty about us,” says Lauren. Remember that your happiness, even if it doesn’t seem like it’s in reach now, comes first!