I was seeing someone some time ago. It wasn’t exclusive, we both were just taking things as they go, but my feelings were definitely involved and I saw this potentially going somewhere. They ended things with me quite suddenly with not much explanation. Now they’re in an exclusive relationship with one of my friends that they had had a thing with a bit before we started seeing each other. I don’t have feelings for them anymore and I’m genuinely happy they are together. But sometimes I can’t help but wonder if I was just a stop on the way and they never saw me as anyone important to them. I can’t help but take it personally that they were so ready to get fully involved with someone else while leaving me with a feeling that us seeing each other didn’t mean anything. I sometimes wish the two of them had gotten together straight away so I wouldn’t be involved at all and I wouldn’t have to feel like a second-best option or a stop along the way. I do know it’s probably nothing personal but the underlying feeling of hurt will always be there.
Something very common for all of us is that when we start seeing someone, we simultaneously see potential. There is nothing wrong with this, having and building expectations oftentimes in dating, is a good thing and completely natural. What coexists with these expectations is also our emotions which play in a completely different league. From your last sentence I can tell that you see both sides; the practical one where you are able to separate yourself from the situation and the messy one that unfortunately seems tied to your self-worth. I want you to know that it is okay to feel both these things, as frustrating as that probably is, because it just means you are processing.
A terrible thing is that our emotions are not rational. I think you know in your heart that this person wasn’t for you. Otherwise they would’ve met you where you were, would’ve not ended things with little to no closure. Really, looking back, you probably realise that they are not someone who could have reciprocated what you felt for them at the time. One-sided attraction is gut-wrenching but also easy to dwell in. The dwelling however, only hurts the dweller. It makes you constantly plan for things emotionally while physically you are stunted by the other person who simply does not have the capacity to be with you the way you want them to. And trust me when I say, their capacity to love you is no reflection of how lovable you are. It actually is a clear indication that the underlying feeling of hurt you’re experiencing, agonising as it is, could never be tied to your flaws.
What I can reassure you of is that their new relationship does not make your attachment to them any less special. You and I really can’t decide if they were more or less attached to you, it would only bring you more pain to ponder this.But no matter the level of attachment on their part, if it was special and exciting for you in that moment to be with them in whatever capacity, then their being in a committed relationship now could never change that. You were never wrong for catching feelings, you were just hopeful and human and you shouldn’t have to bury what you felt to move with this at all. At your best you were vulnerable and honest, which is something to only be proud of.
Bittersweet truth is; they fell in love with your friend. I understand you must feel obligated to feel happy. Your friend is in love and all that. If in moments, you find yourself upset and consequently feel any guilt, remember you are trying to navigate really confusing bonds that took place in different emotional time zones. If you haven’t already, I would recommend talking to your friend about what you’re feeling. Discussing future boundaries, any unease you feel and that you are happy for them but are also trying to give yourself closure.
Communication is the catalyst you need in this convoluted love equation to protect yourself. Their situation with your friend ending before they pursued you, never had an impact on how things ended with you. It is hard to separate these things given how crammed the social circles are, Edinburgh can be the tiniest city. But they met you at an entirely different time which changes circumstances. I sympathise with you entirely when you say you feel second-best, rejection is a brutal thing and I am sorry for the toll it took on your self-esteem. I hope as you’re trying to process this you also believe you deserve a love that without a shadow of a doubt makes you feel like the first choice. A love that is unafraid to converse with you and meets you where you are.
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